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Updates from Jude

Also see the Positive Education page - one of Jude's passions!

15 June 18

posted 14 Jun 2018, 13:42 by Stephanie Williams   [ updated 14 Jun 2018, 13:48 ]

Each year we set annual achievement targets based on our student achievement data. This previously was against the National Standards and is now against Curriculum Levels.

We have a range of targets that cover reading, writing, maths and both stretch/ excellence targets and those more focused on raising achievement for our children who aren’t achieving at expected levels for their age.

Within these annual targets teachers are engaged in what are called ‘cycles of inquiry’. This means that they all have identified groups of students within these big targets that they design for, track progress and delve into what’s working and what else they may require. It’s pretty much a scientific approach, but involving both the heart and mind as relationships are key.

A few weeks ago the staff celebrated what progress we had made against the targets in 3 months, this included ‘the summer effect’ which is known as the summer holiday ‘dip’.

You can be rest assured tight, very tight processes are in place and the teaching team know these individuals and groups of children very well.

The word ‘design’ is an exciting one as teaching really is a dynamic, creative process- based on research. And…….we have never known so much about how children learn. What we need to keep in mind is what progress looks like…..and how it will look different for different people. The famous quote “Children are like popcorn, they pop at different times...some pop early, some pop late” I have used many times. I first heard this when I heard Professor Zhao speak at a Conference many years ago. He says a lot of great ‘stuff’ in fact! Try http://zhaolearning.com/ - if you want to delve more deeply.

Whilst many things have changed in the world of teaching and learning and become more complex in many ways it’s also exciting times. It is going to be very interesting to see what comes out of the Government’s 3 year Education Work Programme. The aim is to

develop an education system that meets the needs of the 21st century from early learning through tertiary and beyond”.

The work programme includes:

·         the NCEA review

·         a review of Tomorrow’s Schools

·         developing a future-focused Education Workforce Strategy

·         a continuous focus on raising achievement for Māori and Pasifika learners

·         development of a strategic pathway for Māori-medium education

·         an action plan for learning support

·         an early learning strategic plan

·         a comprehensive review of school property

·         a programme of change for vocational education

·         a full review of the Performance Based Research Fund

·         better support for the research aspirations of our tertiary sector

One of our parents was fortunate to attend the Education Summit in Christchurch recently. It certainly sounded like an uplifting and powerful event. If you are interested in keeping up to date with changes in education check out the Ministry of Education’s link.


8 June 2018

posted 7 Jun 2018, 18:08 by Carolyn Brett

I came across an interesting article recently about what’s going on in your child’s brain when you read them a story. There are so many options these days too - whether this storytelling is with physical books, audio books, online books….. and on we go!

A recently published study by Dr John Hutton at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital discusses an apparent ‘Goldilocks effect’. Some types of storytelling may be too cold, some too hot and some - actually just right! In this study, the 27 children underwent brain scanning whilst the different types of stories were shared. The MRI scanned for activation within certain brain networks and the connectivity between the networks. Although this is one study and a class size of children, I do think it’s interesting to see what the researchers found:

Audio only - too cold
Animation - too hot
Illustration - Just right!

The children’s understanding was ‘scaffolded’ by having the images as clues. 

There is also the emotional bonding that happens when you are reading a book, especially a picture book with young and not so young children. We have a great range of what is known as ‘sophisticated' picture books for older children available in our Library too.

If you can’t find the time to read with your child/ren as often as you would like and if you are relying on electronic devices for young children, this research suggests moving toward a more minimal version of a narrated, illustrated ebook as opposed to audio only or animation. So, a small study - but interesting food for thought all the same!

This week some of you will have attended the Progress Meeting with your child’s base group teacher. At this meeting, you will have been asked to provide some feedback as to how the 4 different sessions (1 Goal Setting and 1 Student Led Conference, 1 Interim Progress Meeting and 1 Final Progress Meeting + ongoing Seesaw) over the year give you a good well rounded picture of whole child progress and achievement and if there is anything else you would like us to consider. We will collate this information and feed it back into our review cycle. 

If you are going for a jig at the Ceilidh this weekend, have fun and you will be guaranteed a warm glow on the inside and the out! Thank you so much to the organising team who are keen for our parent community and friends to have some fun and fun-d-raise at the same time!

31 May 2018

posted 29 May 2018, 19:39 by Carolyn Brett

We often hear about how technology is taking over the world and many jobs have been, or are at risk of being, automated in the future. This is true when we look at the evidence even over our lifetime. Whilst technology can support so much learning and advancement, it's the human skills that machines will never have that are more important than ever.

In this short 11 minute documentary, 'An Adaptable Mind' describes what it takes to make the world a better place. The list of vital skills for our modern world contains five qualities that - you guessed it - machines can never have:
  1. Curiosity
  2. Creativity – in the sense of liberating human energy
  3. Initiative
  4. Multi-disciplinary thinking – not multi-tasking but multi-asking
  5. Empathy
I recommend a viewing, it's really beautifully created. 

When we reflect on the Character Strengths Whānau Day last Friday, I witnessed many of these skills for the 'modern world' in action. Schools, as both academic and social organisations, have a big job to do in helping parents out in their quest to develop great citizens of the future. I can't stress the importance of this 'whole person' learning enough. 

It doesn't stop with children!

I have been so heartened by the feedback from many of you that the work we are doing is impacting on you personally as well. For me, it's not just about the little darlings (as much as they would like it to be!), it's about being part of a flourishing community, where we all help each other out.

For the parents, grandparents and friends who were helping out and who joined us in the staffroom last Friday for morning tea (and the 10 minute quiz... 8/10 at a push!) ...that just felt great. There really was this sense of being in it together - making the most of the human qualities that makes this school community such a privilege to lead and belong to.

PS. How much screen time do your children really need this very long weekend? I'll be limiting mine!

25 May 2018

posted 24 May 2018, 19:50 by Carolyn Brett

Today we had our Positive Education Character Strengths Day. Character Strengths are a foundation of our wellbeing programme and they don't stop there! You will often hear them referred to when we are talking about 'academic learning' and also social learning, being part of a team, on the Miniball court, working with buddies, building resilience when things don't go your way...... the list is endless! 

You will hear them referred to in many written reports about progress and achievement, on Seesaw, on Blogs and in Newsletter pieces, in Assembly and Student Led Conferences. Soon all children will have created an "I am Powerful Plan". This plan will be what the child, teachers and, also hopefully, yourselves can refer to when they need some help to get over a hump. The more small humps they can learn to get over at primary, the better prepared they will be to get over the bigger humps, twists and turns (and wonders!) that life brings.
How wonderful it has also been to have some of you also opt to take the Character Strengths Online Assessment. How exciting it is when you talk to me about how you are deliberately using your strengths in the workplace or even leading sessions with teams around their character strengths.

For the past couple of years I have been asking potential employees to complete these assessments and come to interviews ready to discuss - always really interesting! As a staff, we refer to our strengths a lot and plan for ways to utilise them. Likewise, Board members strengths are recognised and referred to.

Go on - if you haven't given it a shot yet, you may be more curious now. This is the only free psychometrically valid, online test measuring the 24 Character Strengths https://www.viacharacter.org/Survey/Account/Register.

Please find a snapshot, taken from Ryan Niemiec's new book, quoted as the GO-TO book for building character, about why these signature strengths are important.

"The case can quickly be made for the significance of signature strengths from not only the science that has emerged over the last couple of decades but also from the perspective of the problem of chronic disengagement across organisations, relationships, and individuals.

Disengagement of individuals - A lack of flourishing
Less than 25% of the US population is flourishing and similar results found in New Zealand (Hone, Jarden, Duncan and Schofield, 2015)
This means people aren't functioning at a high level of wellbeing socially or psychologically
Support for strengths
Studies found that people who use their strengths a lot are over 18 more times likely to flourish than those who do not. 
Each of the core elements of flourishing - positive emotions, engagement, meaning, positive relationships and achievement (Seligman, 2011) are significantly linked to character strengths.

Disengagement of individuals - A general unawareness of strengths
Survey research has shown that 2/3 of people are unaware of their strengths. (Linley, 2008)
Support for strengths
A representative sample of New Zealand workers found that those who were highly aware of their strengths were nine times more likely to be flourishing than those who were unaware (Hone et. al, 2015)
Character strengths have been connected to engagement in numerous studies.

Similar patterns in personal relationships and disengagement of employees.

Signature strengths are emerging across domains as not only as an important source of engagement but also as a central pathway...." 

Today you witnessed strengths in action! What fab support from our parent crew - thank you! It was a fine display of the 'village' in action.

18 May 2018

posted 17 May 2018, 18:07 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 17 May 2018, 18:08 ]

The traditional African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”, has been widely quoted. This concept of the “village” and all of the interconnected pieces, partnerships and supports is essential if we want our children to have an opportunity to build the competencies to make "I am powerful" a reality. 

I was reminded of this very thing last week when I received an email from a parent who has a child now at secondary school. 

".......Just a quick word to say a big ‘thank you’ as always to the Worser Bay Team.

We had X’s Parent teacher Interviews last night and every teacher was thrilled with her. Why? They assess the students using the SOLO taxonomy. X is scoring 7s and 8s because, thanks to her Worser Bay Experience, she knows how to transfer and apply knowledge. She can problem solve and think around ideas. We are so proud.

It is what Worser Bay does so well – create critical thinkers. Thank you!"

I thought this is a good example of how many learner outcomes may not be realised until later in schooling and life. It  also prompted me to reflect on the many people and all of the different skills and strengths supporting lovely student X to get themselves to this great place! 

I was reminded of this again last week when I overheard a teacher talk about the 'village approach required to support students with behavioural/learning challenges'. Again, when I see the complex process of pulling a written progress report together. You will receive a double-sided written report at your upcoming meetings. It seems straightforward. Simple even, maybe? What has led up to this has been a complex task involving the child, Base Group Teacher, Team Teachers, Team Leaders, Assessment Coordinator and Support Staff.... and me!  

In my previous workplace, as in many of yours, I am imagining the well utilised term of 'breaking down the silos' is probably still bandied about. 

For WBS to have a true village approach, it means that the interconnected pieces, partnerships and supports must be highly functioning. By the time you leave that Progress Meeting, you can be assured that at least 9 WBS villagers have been part of the process! There aren't any silos here.
On Wednesday, it was the first International Day of Education Support Staff Personnel and the theme ....... Making it possible.
So, in terms of 'we are powerful', I would like us to give gratitude to our Support Staff, Cloe, Christine, Carolyn and Steph - they are committed to 'making it possible'.
Please find an opportunity to show manaakitanga next time you see them or dial the school's number!

11 May 2018

posted 10 May 2018, 19:32 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 10 May 2018, 19:33 ]

The opportunity to engage in the conversation about the future of education was highlighted in last week's Newsletter and you can find the information in there again this week. 

Over the last few years, the debate around scrapping the school decile system for something that is more equitable and fair has been a hot topic. The discussion continues, but, without the aid of a small (or large) miracle, I can't see the amount of funding a school like ours receives changing anytime soon.

This means we rely so heavily on our community to support our income, through Voluntary Contributions (we have had an amazing 84% response) and various fundraising ventures. 

Complimenting our weekly income from Sausage Sizzles and monthly Pizzas, we have our other events. Just this week we have the first children's Disco of the year. A few weeks later, on 9 June, it's the Ceilidh, a bit of a social knees up for parents, friends and neighbours, and highly rated by the community as well worth booking a babysitter for!

Last week, the first Fair Meeting for the year was convened. The School Fair - mark the calendar now - it's on Sunday 11 November - is our biggest fundraising event and recognised across Wellington as one of the 'must go to' Fairs! The site itself lends itself beautifully, the theme is always interesting and it's one of those times where almost all families in the school 'muck in' in some way. So our appreciation to all of the new parents who came along to this first meeting and are keen to get involved. For those of you who would like to be more involved but couldn't make it, your Parent Net rep will be the person to chat to in the first instance.

Parent Net - Jackie in Mahutonga/Matariki, Sonja in Tautoru and Tiso in Autahi are the names and faces at the end of the Parent Net emails and people on the ground helping connect and coordinate. They form another mighty important part of the community jigsaw when it comes to bringing people together for supporting teaching/learning and also rallying support for our fundraising ventures. 

The Board of Trustees, yet another group of dedicated parents within the school, have some great information on the website that provides more context for our fundraising requirements. http://www.worserbay.school.nz/be-involved

So, hope you have your  on for the Emoji disco tonight! Thanks to our Disco Organiser Extraordinaire and merry band of helpers. I'm sure the children will love it, and I hope they thank you!

4 May 2018

posted 3 May 2018, 19:24 by Carolyn Brett

Here we are - a whole wide landscape ahead of us and many routes and landmarks already well known, but, like any bucolic scene,...... we leave room for some flexibility, especially as we are dealing with animate objects! That's what makes life exciting!

Over the break, I finally finished a book "m Braining - using your multiple brains to do Cool Stuff" by Grant Soosalu and Marvin Oka. It's one of those books that will require a fair bit of picking up and rereading as I'm not sure my brain(s) was/were always doing cool stuff over this period! Based on neuroscience principles, the book provided understanding of ...... "the scientific basis of gut intuitions, heart-felt emotions and head based creative powers". Have a read, if you are interested in finding out more.

Amongst all the information you will read in the Newsletter, on the Blog, via teacher email, Seesaw and face to face this term, you will witness a common theme around learning about the brain, the thinking brain, the feeling brain and how we deal with emotions. We all have to deal with emotions getting in the way at times, as adults, more importantly we have an important job to do in supporting our children to understand themselves a little better - how they deal with "stuff" being key. 

So, from the very first Assembly, next week, expect to start hearing a whole lot more about positive; emotions, relationships, accomplishment, purpose and health - all of the domains of our positive education model - underpinned by the deliberate use of character strengths - in the aim of creating resilient, flourishing individuals! So, keep a look out online and come along to the regular Assemblies, if you are keen to understand more. There is also the Positive Education Day coming up soon.... which, based on the couple we had last year will be good fun and insightful. That's - Positive Education (Pos Ed) Whānau Day - Friday 25 May.

Next week there will be plenty of scope for positive health with the cross country and swimming, positive relationships, health and emotion and more with the disco, Tautoru's Botanical Gardens trip will also align with many of these domains and for some it may kick start some positive purpose for some of our budding environmentalists

All of this on top of the 3 Rs and all the learning areas and competencies in our broad New Zealand Curriculum. So much to do and a whole 9 weeks to do it!

After all, to draw on ancient wisdom, "Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all", Aristotle.

13 April 2018

posted 12 Apr 2018, 18:02 by Carolyn Brett

This term has seen more longer weekends and longer sunnier warmer days than many before! This has allowed the Inquiry around the Guardians of the Forest to take full advantage of the beautiful natural environment and remove the confines of the classroom walls for learning. When we look at our Strategic Goal of 'connecting learners', it's not just the children we are talking about here - it's also the 'bigger' people - us - the staff and parents. Teachers have been engaged in full on Professional Learning since the Teacher Only Days before the children came back this year. The main focus has been the teaching of writing (as we really aim to make shifts this year). Formative assessment practices (that's the ongoing minute by minute, day by day judgments that inform planning) and ongoing learning around Positive Education.

If it's what teachers do minute by minute that has a significant impact on achievement and schools base their existence on achievement, in the widest sense, then it's essential that we place a good deal of energy, time and resources into teacher practice. Much of our learning has involved a heavy research base, observation, coaching,  presenting, inquiring,...... roll on 3.15pm the 'other side' of being a teacher starts. Some of our teachers have benefitted from attending Conferences outside of our fair city, from connecting with other schools either online or face to face, having colleagues visit........ it's dynamic, the expectations are big, only those who are committed and passionate about what they do have the drive to keep on learning like our teachers do.

It's also our parents and wider whānau, who are in this connecting learners goal - there is no escape! We have plenty of  learning opportunities in these Newsletters, Parent Connection Points, Seesaw, Blogs, Parent Workshops, Meet the Board sessions, Goal Setting and Reporting sessions, Student Led Conferences, Rising 5s..... ParentNet Catch Ups..... Assemblies, Volunteering on trips or in the classroom, Pōwhiri... a wide variety of ways to suit different needs and work commitments. You can even learn plenty helping out with sossies or pizzas!

Next term, look out for at least one Positive Education Whānau Day, Matariki Celebrations, Progress Meetings........ as we build up to a legendary Arts Celebration in Term 3 this year. In the meantime, in appreciation of all of your support and care this term, and we look forward to keeping our connecting learners goal healthy, well rested and fed in Term 2.

6 April 2018

posted 5 Apr 2018, 19:32 by Carolyn Brett

In 2017, our children came to school from 27 different early childhood learning centres or home care arrangements. That's some number when we think about the range of experiences our children arrive with. Some have been in more free play environments, others very structured, others with experiences facilitated by parents, in home nannies, a little bit of everything....... the combinations are endless. 

Resourcing the Rising 5s, the Transition to School programme has been strongly supported by the Board and gone from strength to strength over many years. When we add up and see the number 27, it reinforces the need for this programme more than ever. The opportunity for parents to get to know more about the learning priorities and expectations of our school is promoted by holding 'Parent Connection Points' at Rising 5s as well, a chance for some Q and A without the children, a rare moment!

Autahi, our New Entrant space, is on a slightly different reporting cycle than the rest of the school. You will get plenty of information from the teachers about this. Gillian Cowie will be joined by a second teacher, Carl Pynenburg, from Term 2. Carl has already been working extensively across the school and will be a familiar face to many already. Nau mai, Haere mai, Carl!

For parents in Tautoru and Māhutonga/Matariki, you can expect Progress Meetings next term around Week 7. Look out for exact timings in the Newsletter as you will need to book online. These written and verbal reporting sessions with your child's base group teacher are without the children. Behind the scenes there will have been a hive of activity as sometimes a number of different teachers are involved in the writing of one report, so plenty of rich chat happens along the way. This is the beauty of an environment like ours - teachers will see and hear things differently. Working collaboratively they form a 'whole' view and test each other's thinking. 

The first part of the written report, the top box, holds the gold. This is where teachers will be specifically discussing the learner attributes, character strengths and competencies. This is where you should be able to feel more of the 'essence' of your child. Progress against the curriculum expectations in Reading, Writing and Maths to date will also be shared. 

A huge thanks to our camp teachers and parents. A very smooth operation and a great opportunity for children to give things a go and overcome challenges. The outdoors certainly is a terrific context for building resilience and pushing through...... It's not a new message, but you may be interested in this recent article about Early Childhood Educators and Researchers discussing this.

29 March 2018

posted 27 Mar 2018, 19:01 by Carolyn Brett

Last week I was asked to visit a base group at a particular time..... I knew something was up!

As well as a very large group hug, I was presented with a book of thanks to the staff. Each child had contributed a page as a 'random act of kindness'. Here's a snippet from the crew:

".....arranging fun and happy things....."
"I realise you use all your effort teaching us in an interesting way..."
"We will support you...... you have made us full of fun and joy..."
"Thank you for giving people rewards for being themselves"
"Thank you for all the plasters and advice"
"....for being a  good person..."
"...everyone being so friendly and kind to the environment and other people"
"....we know it's hard work...."

We so appreciated the effort and also the thoughtfulness. There is depth and understanding of what we aim for. 

Additionally, we received an email from a parent this week whose whānau are leaving Wellington ....

... we are going to miss Worser Bay School terribly. We enjoyed an incredible connection with the school community and will never forget the wonderful opportunities the children have had to grow, develop, learn and thrive under your care. 

What an amazing journey it has been .....- I really believe the kids have developed a great love of learning  ........seriously positive learning mojo.... healthy dose of Worser Bay style ako....!

So for us, as a staff...... it's one of those magical moments when we see all the 'stuff' behind the scenes celebrated like this.

You have to be real, it's not all rainbows and glitter - now that's where the word resilience comes in, I'll leave that for another time!

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