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Updates from Jude

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

17 November 2017

posted 16 Nov 2017, 17:42 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 16 Nov 2017, 17:57 ]

Well, the Fair of Legends is behind us, and legendary it totally was. 

The atmosphere was tremendous and to observe the community pulling together so tightly to do the best job possible is difficult to put into words that give it justice.

At our staff meeting on Monday, we had a bit of a chat about what a great day the Fair was and also how when we arrived at school the next day it was impossible to believe there had been all of those people inside and out, with bulging bags and smiling faces present. The rooms were 'normal', the grounds spotless and I even noticed that the Fair Signs were down as soon as it was a done deal. Remarkable work on all fronts! Talk about great role modelling for our tamariki!

I know the team will have already started thinking about the successes and having brainwaves for the future (not too many this week maybe!). Similarly, in terms of learning, we always need to keep looking down the track and keep things relevant and aspirational. A few months back we checked in with whānau, staff and children as to what you absolutely loved about the school and wanted to keep, and also areas for improvement. You have seen the outcome of this in the form of the 'Word Clouds'.

From here, we could see that some of this was put in the bigger 'strategic direction pot' and other items will be featuring in the 2018 Annual Plan. We have our vision, our values, our principles and have now redeveloped our Strategic Goals too! This can all be found in our Curriculum Document, including the current Strategic Goals.

If we think of a New Entrant starting in Autahi today........ what big picture goals will support them to leave in Year 6 as connected, curious and confident thinkers?

Draft Strategic Goals 2018-24

We are committed to:
  1. Educating for the future
  2. Providing rich and powerful learning opportunities
  3. Connecting learners
Underneath these, fit various layers, illustrations and diagrams still in early formations, still incomplete.

What do you think of these for big picture goals? Can you see your child/ren reflected in these? Any thoughts please get in touch before December is upon us.

Hope to see you tonight at the Board 'Thanks to the Community' for all the support over 2017:

The Chocolate Fish, Shelly Bay
Friday 17 November,  5pm - 6.30pm

This is a 'family friendly' event. The Board will supply platters for adults. Drinks for adults and drinks/food for children can be purchased by parents.
The forecast is looking good! Plenty of room for children to play, parents to mingle and a great opportunity for us to thank you for your energy!

10 November 2017

posted 9 Nov 2017, 16:07 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 9 Nov 2017, 16:57 ]

A note of gratitude on behalf of the staff @ WBS:

Dear parent volunteers

This weekend we have our Fair of Legends - that's the one 12 November 11-2, rain or shine! I very much recognise the many hours of thinking, discussing, planning, deliberating and just plain hard physical work that goes into this 'biggest fundraising event' in the life of the school. 

Many of you are also engaged in monthly pizza making, weekly sausage sizzling - donning the apron wind, rain, sun or out in the freezing cold. There are our discos - what a hit they have been this year! On the dancing, fun and frolic front, the Ceilidh must be highlighted - the great thing here is the crew this also attracts from wider than 'just us'.

We had some new initiatives this year too - the eco soaps and the very cool hoodies. Our incredibly high percentage of families who pay voluntary contributions (this actually combines to over half our fundraising budget !), plus those who provide generous extra 'donations'........... for the benefit of all.

The gift of time is precious. 

The helping in the classrooms and EOTC events, the sports managers and coaches, the parents keen to help out with our environmental focus, our languages and fab events like 'Grow your Mind Day' and 'Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence' - keen to be in the mentor seat.

The enthusiasm to find out more about teaching and learning - the massive turn out to our Wellbeing workshop, learning treasure hunts, reporting, SLCs........... mini workshops, celebrations.

The time you take to let us know how things are going for your child, to work with teachers to do the best by the children, the thought and care you put into families in the community in times of need, the general 'mucking in'.

Our Parent Net reps, our people people, our networkers, our Board Members, our get our tools out and 'fix its', our designers, our printers, our doers.....our bakers.....our 'silent partners' who just actually go and do things....... silently!

I certainly feel, and I also know this is echoed from the staff, grateful to work in and be part of a community who understands the importance of contributing and why, in a school 'like ours', we can't move forward without this energy and drive from our parent volunteers.

So, in anticipation of a massive weekend ahead, please know that the WBS staff thank you all for all that you will do this weekend and have done all year in all the rich and varied hues.

We look forward to working alongside you this Sunday and the Board looks forward to inviting you to celebrate and thank you:

The Chocolate Fish, Shelly Bay
Friday 17 November,  5pm - 6.30pm

W hāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei
Aim for the highest cloud so that if you miss it you will hit a lofty mountain


What 25 Experts Say About – Empathy, Social Emotional Learning, Mindfulness

I am familiar with the work of a few of these speakers, who are all very highly regarded - you may want to check this out!

3 November 2017

posted 2 Nov 2017, 18:16 by Carolyn Brett

When you have been 'in the business' as long as I have, you do manage to collect a large number of friends who are also in the same field and, like many professions, teachers do tend to talk teaching ALOT. This is possibly due to the fact that many of us don't really view it as a job, more that it is who we are - as it is difficult to have an on and off button. We are constantly searching for better ways of doing things, new ideas and building knowledge. (So I'm sure my partner wished he was wearing headphones when he spent Labour Weekend with 2 teacher friends and myself!)

One of these friends had just returned from a study trip to Scandinavia to look into the Forest Schools Concept. Wow - her photos and stories were just incredible. What a two year old can do when they are given the licence, it was very exciting and I am keen to try and get her down to share her experiences and knowledge with our staff in some way next year. We are situated in such a fantastic spot for starters!

Back from the weekend, hooking into the news I came across this article about Green School in Bali.

I know some of you have also read it, as you have mentioned it to me - but it's worth a read if you haven't. So many of these ideas were aligned with my friend's Scandinavian experiences and also resonate with many things we are just scratching the surface.

We have recently become an Enviroschool! We are doing so much in this space already, it made wonderful sense to network and learn with others and see where we can move to!  I know the teachers and, no doubt, students are keen to also work more closely with a group of interested parents with progressing this work - so if you are keen, please let John or Scott know ASAP. Follow the link to find out more.

The Fair of Legends is almost upon us. The signs look amazing out there and the Fair Team and helpers have been heads down for quite some time planning and sorting and thinking ....... to make this happen!  Let's join together as a community and get 'stuck in' to making it a great day for the benefit of our WBS children!

27 October 2017

posted 26 Oct 2017, 16:49 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 26 Oct 2017, 16:56 ]

A great deal can be packed into 4 days - I have witnessed this very closely this week! Like I mentioned last week, it's also a short term and also an interesting time for Education Policy ahead.

Much is uncertain but much also remains constant. What we know about learning, what we know about child development, what we know about school culture and what we know about what makes a good school doesn't change.

We are excitedly in the throes of 2018 planning. Nearing the end of the third term of each year my focus certainly moves well into the following year. The teachers have already been delving into the 'hard data', accompanied by plenty of narrative and observation to get their heads around curriculum design for 2018. 

At this school, we place a big value transition from ECE to school, via our highly regarded Rising 5s programme. We also put a lot of energy and thought into transition across the school. Now, similar to a rural school - this really only happens twice in our children's primary school lifetime - we know them well! In saying that, we have a change of dynamic each year, so we need to fit programmes to needs, not the other way around. This is why teaching is such a creative profession!

This year we are keen to have parents along to one of our transition sessions. It's not just children that might be moving into a new space after all. This will give you an opportunity to connect with other parents and teachers in the new spaces too - well before 2018. It'll be on a Friday morning - late November / early December. Date to be confirmed in next week's Newsletter.

I really want to congratulate and acknowledge our children and staff. The soccer coaches working with us for the next 7 weeks had their first session last week. They couldn't speak highly enough of both the smaller and the bigger people at our place! These coaches were absolutely impressed. It's always nice to hear, but especially heartwarming when the feedback is so unsolicited and from people engaged in many schools. Ka mau te wehi!

So, at the moment, I can see that the adults in our community have a lot going on - whether it's teachers, support staff, fundraisers - especially the FAIR TEAM, helpers........ all for the benefit of our children. Pop the build up to Christmas frenzy and holidays, combined with work expectations and deadlines - on top it can all get a bit crazy. Let's remember to look for the best in others, to spot their strengths and let them know. 

I came across this great example of strengths spotting in an Australian High School - I urge you to take a look.

20 October 2017

posted 19 Oct 2017, 18:08 by Carolyn Brett

Nau mai Haere mai - welcome back to the last term of the year. 

I love that Dr Seuss line "How did it get so late so fast?!" I'm also wondering how we will manage all we have in store for the term in these nine and half weeks and come out at the end smiling - but, rest assured, we will - with your help!!

Rallying troops for a slice of Fair Action is a big priority at this time of the year, each and every year. For those of you newer to the school, to gain a full and quick understanding of why a school like ours relies so heavily on community fundraising, I urge you to check out this link on our website

Please also remember to diary the Board of Trustees "Thanks to all parent helpers for 2017" in all the many different forms and varied hues..., hot on the heels of the Fair, you are invited to:

The Chocolate Fish, Shelly Bay
Friday 17 November,  5pm - 6.30pm

It's also a lovely way to make some new connections too. 

The recent 1980s Disco made a record profit in all the WBS Disco years I have known - $1452.46. I think it's just got to have something to do with the videos and music, the outfits and, oh, the memories! Tino pai rawa!

While the diaries are out, please circle Thursday 14 December, 5.30pm to 7.00pm for the WRAP. This is a time the whole community gets together to farewell our Year 6 Graduates and have a bit of a sing along with a dash of Christmas Cheer. The Year 6 Dinner and Year 6 Parent Farewell is scheduled for Tuesday 12 December, 6.00pm to 7.30pm.

This term is also heavy on the reporting on student achievement side (please remember Autahi is a little different in terms of schedule), it's big on the getting out and about and learning outside of the 4 walls, it's expansive on seeking support from you, yes, it's going to be full of opportunity.

“We have to go from what is essentially an industrial model of education, a manufacturing model, which is based on linearity and conformity and batching people. We have to move to a model that is based more on principles of agriculture. We have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process; it's an organic process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.” 
― Ken Robinson

Let's be energetic and work together to keep building on what we have, let's be the best 'farmers' we can be in this last term of 2017.

29 September 2017

posted 28 Sep 2017, 14:15 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 28 Sep 2017, 14:17 ]

Welcome to the holiday break! 

I'm sure when we come back we will have an energetic spring in our step as we look forward to so much during the final 'summer term' (with healthy doses of optimism and hope!) Thinking summery thoughts, please remember check out our Sun Protection Policy and ensure your child/ren has the best chance of keeping safe in the sun.

Our children, teachers and parents have been out and about making connections all over the place - whether it's for learning, fundraising or simply building relationships. In terms of learning - venturing outside of the classroom walls and school perimeter is expected, both in terms of the New Zealand Curriculum and also our local place based curriculum. When we look at our Year 6 leavers' profile of a "connected, curious and confident thinker", this idea of 'venturing out' is essential. 

These days we also have the support of technology to connect to the world and when you dip in and out of the very lively Blogs, this is evident and opens up so many opportunities, but our children also need human, real, face to face interaction and connection to build so many skills for their future. Sitting alone in front of a screen with headphones on and a bowl of chips won't cut it. 

As was mentioned in Board Shorts last week, we had a motivating Board and Staff Strategic Planning session a couple of weeks ago and will be doing more sharing soon. A number of teachers gave short presentations as part of this. John provided a thought provoking piece about "What should/could Schooling, Teaching and most importantly Learning look like in the rapidly changing world? Rethinking what is taught, how it is taught, and how learning is assessed". There were many links to the purpose of schooling, the work of great thinkers in this field and it really helped us think big picture and well ahead. As John mentioned, these are really exciting times to be an educator - we have never known so much! Whether it's about the nature of learning, plasticity of the brain, emotions... it can be difficult to keep up and make sure we are current, without jumping on the next bandwagon or catching onto a fad, as there are plenty!

As part of the presentation, John outlined the 7 Principles of Learning by the wonderful Sir Ken Robinson. These capture a lot of what we are talking about daily in a few simple bullet points:

We look forward to continuing to give our children a great array of learning opportunities next term and also know we can't do it without our parent community. Let's keep working in partnership to keep moving the school forward with energy and passion and knowing that we will be doing our best for our children starting in Autahi to leave for Intermediate with so many tools in the toolkit, ready to embrace a different wider world to the one we, 'the adults', entered into. 

See you with your sunhats in Term 4.

22 September 2017

posted 21 Sep 2017, 18:02 by Carolyn Brett

Yesterday was International Gratitude Day. So, it's very timely to send gratitude to all of our parent volunteers hard at work raising funds, pulling people together and hopefully managing to find some space to also enjoy contributing. I read something just this morning which is poignant. It was the description of giving being a selfish act - which may seem strange at first. But the thinking was that you gain so much more, as an individual, when you give. A bit of food for thought for a Friday! 

We have a few weeks of next term before Sunday 12 November is upon us and the WBS Fair of Legends reigns supreme! Hot on the heels of this major community effort, the Board invites all whanau who have supported the school in the way that best works for them to come along to:

The Chocolate Fish, Shelly Bay
Friday 17 November,  5pm - 6.30pm

This has been a great way to mix and mingle and celebrate together over the last couple of years. We can't guarantee the same beats or visuals like the stand out 80's Disco last Friday, but the atmosphere 'down by the sea' and the fact that children are easily occupied while you can have a well earned refreshment, makes it a great venue in itself!

On Wednesday we celebrated Character Day. The whole school worked in whanau groups of mixed ages and some of their learning around character strengths was shared in Assembly this morning. Remember to check out our Positive Education tab on the website to refresh what, why and how!

Additionally at this time of term, one week to go, reporting... sleepovers... holidays looming... work piling up... to do list lengthening... it is the time to be more deliberate than ever. "How will I use my top strengths in new ways today?

You may then find that the final week of term travels on calmer waters!

15 September 2017

posted 14 Sep 2017, 19:55 by Carolyn Brett

Lately, I have been reflecting on the depth of conversations I have with the teachers about student learning and the way in which we go about inquiring into practice - what's working for whom and how do we know? There are a lot of questions, there is an evidence base and research required and there is the expectation that 'we think like scientists' (even though we work in a people and relationship based industry).

When the teaching staff completed the VIA Character Survey - it is not surprising that we are heavy on the love and kindness strengths! It's hard to work with small people en masse if you don't have a decent dose of both, I guess!

Perseverence and Judgement needs to be brought to the forefront when teachers are going through their inquiry cycles. These are known as 'teaching as inquiry cycles' or TAI in our world of acronyms. At the moment, we have had a heavy focus on maths. Teachers all are undertaking an individual TAI into their maths practice. Over the last 2 weeks they have been observing each other and coaching on next steps and sharing their findings from their inquiry to date with the whole staff. This also links into appraisal processes. 

Underlying our teacher inquiries, we have a focus on girls' achievement in maths and movement from at to above..... through a variety of means!

We have some great new thinking in the maths world which is starting to have an impact on our programmes. You may be interested in reading this article What is Mathematical Beauty? It's excited us!

Expectations are certainly different from 1987 when I started my career and was pretty much left to my own devices..... for years, in fact!

Speaking of the '80s, see you rocking down in Miramar tonight! That's also excited us! Thanks to the Disco King and the crew for what will be another evening of great fun for our tamariki (and many parents!)

8 September 2017

posted 7 Sep 2017, 18:42 by Carolyn Brett

Our Year 6 Leavers' Profile:

Our Year Six students leave Worser Bay School connected, curious and confident thinkers.

When our children arrive in Autahi, they have come from a range of Early Childhood experiences. Over the next 6 years we will work with you to give them a vast array of opportunities to support them to leave in Year 6 as connected, curious and confident thinkers.

Over the years, some of us who have been in this profession for a long time come across adults who we have taught who are doing some incredible things. Sometimes we may not have recognised this potential when they were at primary school, sometimes we are surprised, always we are proud.

Something I have been working with the teachers on is 'to think like scientists' - observe, listen, gather information carefully, search for the 'seed of greatness' in every individual. Then we must nurture that seed to enable growth.

I come back to metaphor of the sailing boat again and again - from Robert Biswas-Diener's work.

Visualise a small sailing bobbing around in Worser Bay.
This boat has a small hole in it - if we don't 'plug the hole', it is likely to sink.
However - it has a terrific sail billowing in the breeze.
The strengths are in this sail and provide the direction.

We have to pay attention to both.

(If you are interested in finding out more about Robert's work - plenty of his TED TALKS are here.)

Student Led Conferences are coming up for most children soon. Let's all observe and listen 'like scientists' as they discuss their achievements. Let's search for the 'seeds of greatness' so that we optimise the opportunity to leave at the end of Year 6 a connected, curious and confident thinker.

1 September 2017

posted 31 Aug 2017, 20:14 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 5 Sep 2017, 17:41 ]

Last Tuesday all of our teaching staff around half of our parent community and even some of our 'yet to officially start' parents had a great night out!

The Wellbeing Workshop lived up to its title in so many ways. Your feedback continues to come rolling in and I'm pleased it wasn't just me who was all hyped up about it!

For those of you who couldn't make it this week, I am going to do a quick summary of what was covered and also very soon we will have a dedicated 'Positive Education' section on the website that we will keep adding to..... so you can get up to / keep up to speed. Plus the Class Blogs always have plenty of 'Pos Ed' news.

The rundown:

Music - to evoke positive emotion
Breathing - to promote positive health
Mixing and Mingling BINGO activity - to encourage positive relationships
A little experiment to highlight 'the Power of the Question' and how questions can determine the reality.

About 5 years ago I asked the question "How can we build greater resilience in our children?". This created my reality in terms of intensive study for 2 years in Positive Psychology and, later, what this means in a school setting, Positive Education. "The science of wellbeing combined with best practice teaching" - I stress the word SCIENCE. 

I shared an excerpt from the Prime Ministers Chief Science Adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman's very recent discussion paper concerning youth suicide, a sobering read. I highlighted his concern that children are too protected from 'emotional stress and aren't prepared for the risks and rigours of adolescence'. I highlighted the piece about changing context of a young person on Page 1.

This is not a choice, an addition or a nice to. Primary Schools (and ECEs) must get on board!

For the last 18 months or so, I have been leading the teachers in the learning, encouraging the living part...  (I mentioned, it's actually work!) and they have been engaged in the teaching - now it's the embedding firmly within the culture of our community. 

We know from your feedback that you are on board, it isn't a hard sell - that many of you are working on aspects already. This focus at WBS on the Whole Child is very alive and well.......... well! It is important for us to be continuing to ask the right questions, be deliberate about the language we use...... learn from what works in our quest for our children to become resilient teens and, one day, adults.

After all - one of my well worn quotes:

"The words you speak become the house you live in" (Hafiz)

We shared some of the work we have been doing with the children in the form of a movie:

We also introduced some live children! Janne, Elliott, Yoshi and Hadley gave first hand accounts of growth mindsets in Maths and also Kaizen goal setting (small incremental, manageable steps).

The teaching staff ran a series of hands on activities that introduced parents to our model of Positive Education which comes from Geelong Grammar School. We know this is heavily researched and based on science - not a grab bag of "do these 5 things and you will be amazing and all of your problems will disappear!" 

Once again, I stress the word Science

We were also very fortunate to have 2 of our parent community supporting our work in this field:

Natalie Hogg:

When I was at school in Ireland a “whole child" education was one that incorporated music, sport AND academics. The development of resilience and psychological wellness was certainly not part of the fabric of the education system. Now I work as a Clinical Psychologist in health and sport environments. I often see clients with immense talent and ability who have yet to realise their potential due to this lack of psychological resilience and wellness.

At the same time, I have watched my twin five year olds embark on their first year at Worser Bay School with both excitement and trepidation. I have a firm belief that my role with them is as much about developing their ability to be connected, to find ways to cope with challenges, and to find ways to achieve their goals, as it is about reading, writing and arithmetic!

It is so easy to become overwhelmed by parenting advice flying at us from all angles. The all-knowing Google will always produce some blog to support any and every parenting approach we care to search for. So how do we choose which line to take? Well, the research into psychological wellbeing strongly supports mindfulness approaches, growth mindset philosophies and the development of psychological flexibility. What is so important about the positive education approaches that have been introduced at Worser Bay School is that they are grounded in this evidence.

What a great opportunity we have to provide our children with consistent approaches across the school and home environments. Thank you to Jude and all of the teachers for the wellbeing session. It was wonderful to be introduced to very practical and fun strategies which we can easily use to support our children through their early lives and beyond.

Nathan Price:
  • The area of mental wellbeing had gained significant momentum over the last 5 – 10 years and the same is true in an elite and professional sporting environment. In professional rugby one of the concepts we refer to is mental fitness – we want our players to be mentally as well as physically fit, so we ensure we work on areas such as resilience, adaptability, grit, as well as building some of the protective factors that we can call on during times of high stress or pressure.

  • Some of the techniques our professional players use are:

    • Mindfulness: Our All Blacks and other professional Rugby players get taught mindfulness. This is a great way to calm the brain stem, reduce stress and re-focus, there are great apps available for this.
    • Gratitude: Being grateful is a great way to change the way you think – teaching your brain to scan for the positives instead of the negatives has a huge impact on your mood. Some of our players use a gratitude journal which we have made available, where for 21 days they write down 3 things they are grateful for. This is great for resilience and positive thinking as well as your mental health. There is evidence of this happening at Worser Bay through the gratitude trees.
    • Learning to fail: Success is a lousy teacher. By learning to fail, and accepting that, we build resilience and learn alternative ways of completing tasks. It is important that we as parents are OK with our kids failing and making mistakes. Quote from Michael Jordan "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
    • Problem solving: We teach our players how to solve their own problems, sometimes we live in a very structured life, so to empower people to solve their own problems is great for resilience, adaptability and self-esteem.

  • The Government has recently allocated 100 million to mental wellbeing initiative including wellbeing programmes in schools

  • I also briefly touched on the importance of parents looking after their own wellbeing which included, making time for the things you enjoy, spending time on important relationships, giving back/community service, laughing/humour, having meaning and purpose, exercise and gratitude.

  • The Board believes that Worser Bay are ahead of the curve in terms of the focus they place on our children’s wellbeing – which was certainly on show last week and we are 100 percent supportive of the focus on the whole child.

Additionally, the Board introduced our SchoolDocs - online policy tool. You can find out all about that here.

As I said, we will have more material under a dedicated page ready to roll soon. Thank you for being so engaged and keen to learn together.

In appreciation to the teachers who really did a tremendous job with all those rotations well into the night!

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