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Updates from Jude

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

4 December 2020

posted 3 Dec 2020, 15:43 by Carolyn Brett

About 6 years ago I embarked on study in Positive Psychology through the Wholebeing Institute in the States. Long story shorter, this involved 2 Residentials based at Geelong Grammar School in Geelong, Australia. During this time, I became interested in language.... in the words we use, how we listen and interpret meaning and decided to focus the final part of my study on just that and what it may mean for me in my role at this School.

Key aspects can be seen in this visual representation. Layered behind this you may be able to see concepts such as whanaungatanga and manaakitanga, research... theories.... and basically the science behind it all. (These may be hard to spot in a picture so small in this Newsletter.) You can witness the use of the stars, meaning our school, Whētukairangi/Stargazers, and also many of my go to phrases "Words create Worlds" being a favourite.

Fast forward. I then made the link with Positive Psychology + Education = Positive Education and began to lead the way with building teacher knowledge in order to deliver a Positive Education/Wellbeing programme to our children. 

Good things take time and embedding Positive Education and Encouraging a Community to Flourish  is a great example of just this. We are not there yet by any means but it has been rewarding to see ourselves in an International Publication and a newly published book on Whole School Wellbeing through The NZ Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience, especially over the course of this 'different' type of year.

It is also music to my ears when a teacher told me last week that, when she met with a newer family to the school for a Progress Meeting, the parents expressed their amazement with how the language and the concepts of Positive Education have already impacted on the 'give it a go and use grit attitude' of their child. Loved it!

Similarly, our Character Strengths are a common language right across our heavens of Autahi, Tautoru and Māhutonga Matariki. I am enjoying the way the teachers often use these strengths for helping children learn about ways to manage themselves that bit better. For example, children may find themselves doing a little bit of extra learning in a small 'judgment' group or maybe a 'teamwork group', possibly a 'fairness group' on occasion. You know...... for that little bit of extra support that is sometimes required!

In a school year, there are very familiar patterns. It is in these last few weeks that wheels often need some extra oil! Our words to children, especially our Year 6 Leavers, include such things as 'a big finish' or 'finishing well' ........... so far so good!

Actually, on a personal note, I too am trying hard. I don't want to end up in any of my staff''s 'kindness group'! 

27 November 2020

posted 3 Dec 2020, 15:40 by Carolyn Brett

We are part of a group of schools called a Kāhui Ako. Our Eastern Wellington Kāhui includes Roseneath, Hataitai, Kilbirnie, Wellington East, Rongotai, Lyall Bay, Miramar Central, Miramar North, Miramar Christian, Seatoun, EBIS and Kahurangi.

Last week our very own Suzanne Kershaw led a session with colleagues from these schools on her personal / professional journey and the school's journey in Te Aō Māori.  It was incredibly powerful and so well received by the attendees. As I sat there and listened I was so proud of her and her enormous capacity for; learning, hard work and the generosity she has for others. I also sat there and thought about how privileged I am / we are to have an entire staff that will give things a go, work together in true collaboration, to aspire to creating not any old school, but a unique and special place to be.

I don't take it for granted. This culture we have here enables us to keep moving forwards. You may be familiar with the term "Culture eats strategy for breakfast", I like to adopt an 'and mentality here'. Culture and Strategy. You need the group to know where they are heading and if they are making progress to the 'there' or really nothing would be achieved except 'a nice time' 

Continuing to strengthen The Home School Partnership is part of the Strategy in 2021. We need to keep the triangle of child/parent/s/teacher/s solid - a shape we all need to keep finding ways to improve. 

If you are reading this Newsletter, we/you/us are some of the way there.....!

20 November 2020

posted 19 Nov 2020, 14:18 by Carolyn Brett

Recently, we have redeveloped our Strategic Plan. After months of thought, staff and Board conversation.... we think we have nailed it! It's uplifting to have this new focus and energy in this interesting year and we look forward to starting to embed the work in 2021. The front piece is a visual which I have hand drawn with a sharpie pen. I will keep it under cover until it's had a rework from someone more talented than myself! (The intent is great though!) In the meantime, before it is let into the light, I thought I would share the new front piece on the website as it has been tweaked to better align with the new 3 year plan. Please find it below:

Nau mai haere mai, a big welcome to Worser Bay School - Te Kura o Whetūkairangi

Our school has sat proudly on the Miramar Peninsula on what was once Whetūkairangi pā since 1897. Whetūkairangi, meaning ‘stargazers’ or those who consume the stars’, provides us with the context for our big overall purpose, “To achieve excellence in learning”, which is our overarching goal, the brightest star!

We are not just ‘any old school’. We have many unique qualities that guide the way when your whānau joins us.  “Encouraging a community to flourish” is what we live, learn and teach here. Our strong, embedded Positive Education/ Wellbeing philosophy is internationally acknowledged and provides a very strong foundation from which all members of the community can gain so much from - children, staff, parents and wider whānau. 

This strengths based approach is very much aligned with our collaborative model of teaching and learning. This isn’t anything new and has been embraced at Worser Bay for over 40 years. Research indicates that there are recognised learning gains for learners and also many professional benefits for teachers. When teachers share responsibility for learning, children have improved access to their diverse strengths. Here, they benefit every day from the talents of the team of teachers who support them. No teacher is an island and can do it all!

Collaborative team teaching, strengthens student learning as teachers get creative, learn from each other more readily and take greater collective responsibility for all students. There is a certain energy that is created, and when you are here you can certainly feel it!  We totally celebrate the balance and quality that team teaching provides and we all reap the rewards!.

Dedication to a strong foundation in Reading, Writing and Maths, high standards and plenty of ‘grit’ is a key for unlocking our rich and varied curriculum. Our children have fun in their learning and experience a vast array of opportunities. This doesn’t happen by chance - our staff are a passionate and clever bunch!

Located where we are, on one of the most outstanding natural school sites in Aotearoa/New Zealand, our curriculum takes heed of place, culture and people. The short walk down the hill to the beach or up the road to the bush provides an authentic context for great learning, and on bad weather days our outdoor classroom really comes into its own.   (It’s new and exciting plus our new school buildings will be ready at the start of 2021.)

The cultural significance of our site combined with our strong focus on Te Ao Māori has supported us to bring the concept of ‘Mana’ to the forefront. We uphold the mana, the building up of all learners (big, small, young, older) in our community. All are accepted and respected for who they are and what they bring.  And our community is diverse - with 26 cultures and families with many different strengths and life experiences. 

Our school is vibrant and dynamic. Big enough to offer a lot, small enough to ensure all children are well known, well taught and have a strong sense of place and belonging, of feeling safe and cared for whilst being supported and expected to achieve their excellence in learning.

We look forward to you belonging to our school community.

13 November 2020

posted 12 Nov 2020, 18:07 by Carolyn Brett

If you think your social life is lacking lustre we can add some shine with the array of opportunities between now and the end of the school year!

Last week’s Newsletter included a visual calendar of what’s on... we will keep this a feature for the remainder of the term, as we know how full on it gets, and hope that our multiple messaging helps. We do ask you to meet us half way as well and take charge of transferring the dates to your own memory joggers.

Starting with this evening, we have the annual ritual of the School Community get together at the Chocolate Fish in Shelly Bay. It’s easy. Children play, are fed and watered via parents and there is plenty of mixing and mingling and maybe you may meet someone new. The Board of Trustees provides nibbles and you buy drinks.

This year, we are trying something new with the after school Stay and Play on Tuesday 8 December. In combination with teachers chatting with you about key aspects of the new space’s programme (for children moving areas), children play and there is food for sale as part of our fundraising machinery. Feel free to bring your own refreshments.... something will go well with Nachos! If it’s a winning formula, this too may become a Worser Bay School ritual.

The other whole school event is fondly known as ‘The Wrap’. This is more on the fun and frivolity side of things. Children MC, each class does a bit of an item, there are a couple of speeches and some community sing alongs. Get here early that evening as seats, on the ground, are often hard to come by.

Year 6 events are always a time to celebrate our children moving onto Intermediate.

The Year 6 Dinner and Parent Drinks are for the Year 6s and their parents and staff only. Please book childcare for younger siblings as it’s the Year 6’s special time.

Likewise, the Poroaki will be held the following morning. Year 6s will all give their thoughts on their time at primary, there are a couple more speeches from staff and all Year 6 parents/whānau attend. It’s always a bit of a emotional time (I find!)

This may be something some of you who are not parents of Year 6s are keen to be part of too, so if you would like to attend, please let Steph know as we will need to have numbers for small chair seating! We are aiming to hold this in our outdoor classroom for the first time..... this indeed may be the beginnings of yet another ritual. (Some predictability is useful in this world, I think!)

Then there are parent/teacher Progress Meetings, Beach Weeks, Trips, Clothing Sales,.....Working Bee..... it’s all on!

Do up your seatbelt..... and enjoy!

6 November 2020

posted 5 Nov 2020, 18:11 by Carolyn Brett

Recently on RNZ, Psychologist, Sarb Johal, discussed a session on parenting, children and self control. It resonated as I often return to thinking about self control as it is recognised as possibly the most dominant factor in adult wellbeing.

"Self control measures a child's ability to stop acting on an immediate impulse. Levels of self-control in childhood have been found to be predictors of future education, health and financial wellbeing." 

Certainly the fantastic largest longitudinal study "Growing Up in New Zealand" shows some very interesting findings. In the study, 60% of children usually had good levels of self control, 40% lower levels some of the time and about 1% found it very difficult to stop. This isn't fixed and can very much be context dependent.

There were some general themes around those children who had fewer rules around screen time and parents who had a more permissive style. It seems the middle ground is preferable... not overly authoritarian, not permissive, but in the middle position, 'authoritative' and knowing when to pick the battles wins out. 

Additionally, children who are read to or told stories and who are coached through difficult situations definitely seem to have a head start. You can read the full report here. The 20 minute radio Interview is here.

It’s obviously been a bit of a thing of mine. I can still recall being fascinated by Walter Mischel's 'marshmallow test' many years ago at University. I've always wondered whether I would have gone for the one marshmallow now.... or wait and have two. Although the way in which I tended to hoard my Easter Eggs for weeks may be a bit of a giveaway on that front!

Of course, as educators we witness the children's  self -control prowess on a daily basis. We seek to learn about  different tools and strategies to support them to further develop these skills as I know you will too. As it's such a 'big deal' in wellbeing terms, it would be good if we could align our methodologies and thinking. This is something you may like to discuss with your child's Base Group teacher if it's 'a thing' at home at the Progress Meetings. They are coming up soon - book your meeting now!

30 October 2020

posted 29 Oct 2020, 18:18 by Carolyn Brett

It tends to speed up even more around this time and I know we have this 'thing' here that we rev up, none of that wind down thing until the last day of term! We need to ride the energy wave!

So, with that in mind, you will see there is a lot of building progress being made and we are right on target (even cheekily possibly.... maybe... a bit ahead!) 

The new 'outdoor classroom' will very soon be completed. It's quite incredible what a magnet wet concrete is for small hands (even with a fence around it, always a tiny gap!). With the rubber floor, made from recycled tyres, and the clear 'tent' sides - that wind up/down and can be secured.... you can imagine the multitude of possibilities. Environmental learning for instance - out there in nature and getting involved in the water cycle with the help of our new water tanks, a break out space, yoga, dance, drama, dance, music....... we also see it as a form of amphitheatre, looking down onto the 'stage' with seating around it. Meetings, get togethers, community events...... shade for playtimes, great at the Fair, no loss of space, top views..... it's going to be so well loved!

It's funny how areas get names "middle court", "bottom court", "back court", "big kids playground", "little kids playground", "top grass" ..... and soon we will have another cool area outside the back of "New Autahi". We are envisaging that this will be a great secure space for outdoor gardens and learning for our little people. I'm feeling another Working Bee coming on!

Of course, we have a community Working Bee very soon as well - Sunday 1 November at 9.30am. It's important to keep the rest of our school moving in terms of grounds looking good, whilst we have the build underway and a lot of the school under scaffold.... soon, now... very soon, we will be done!

But not really, as there is the reroof and the redesign of a community living room-esque 'library' under discussion, which is so exciting and we will seek your input here. (This is the soon to be 'old' admin area.) 

Less exciting in parts, but ever so needed, we then will be able access some funds from a different Ministry of Education property pot to support us to update the junior toilets, finally. So, although the main project will be complete, there is more, smaller in scope, to come.

Our school is unique, it's special  in heart and place. Finally, we will have the outside more where it needs to be!

Then we will have more plans......... I know!

16 October 2020

posted 15 Oct 2020, 16:30 by Carolyn Brett

"It's a we thing!"

Over the break, I rediscovered this article in a SET/Teaching/Learning research magazine. The initial blurb in this reading caught my attention:

"Increasingly teachers are expected to collaborate because of recognised learning gains for diverse students and a variety of professional benefits. Policy directives globally and in New Zealand support collaborative teaching in flexible learning environments." The article (Keehan and Forbes) went on to suggest the keys to successful collaborative teaching, so I thought it very timely as we look to plan for 2021 to get inside this work again.

Some of the key messages I took:
  • When teachers share responsibility for student learning, students have improved access to their diverse strengths
  • Hargreaves 30 plus year study on collaboration in school concludes that student learning improves when teachers circulate their knowledge and take more risks with creative teaching, along with collective responsibility for all students' success
  • More collaborative schools tend to have higher student achievement.... and partnerships with parents
  • Removing isolation boosts morale for teachers
  • Synergy occurs when teachers working together can create a learning environment that a solo teacher cannot generate
  • Teachers expect to develop and help others to develop
  • Differences can be complementary and lead to balance
...and more.

All of this made sense to me... tick, tick, tick. How fortunate we are at Worser Bay to have no other option but to work extremely collaboratively in a school that was designed just for that. It isn't lip service. It's not straightforward either. 

Teachers can't hide away or take 'control'. Everything is communicated, discussed, shared, debated, critiqued. There isn't room for much autonomy. It's like other workplaces - adults need to work with adults, listen to adults, communicate with adults, negotiate with and so on.... This isn't always the case in schools, so our teachers require a particular mindset and toolbox of skills.

For this to work really well, our teachers need to talk openly work together on problems, take turns leading, share and help, follow through, be kind and forgiving, share problems and successes, make time to communicate.... Whilst celebrated in many work environments, these attributes are painted in neon in a collaborative teaching philosophy based school.

So, my thoughts right now as we rev straight back into things is for the staff as a whole, all that they do.... and especially this week, the teachers, who keep so diligently working on honing their practice so that your/our children/yourselves may reap the rewards of collaborative teaching. 

25 September 2020

posted 24 Sept 2020, 16:54 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 24 Sept 2020, 22:08 ]

We are now at the end of Term 3 with plenty on the plan ticked off and more to be achieved over the final Term of 2020. Term 4 tends to be even more 'full' than the other three, so please take note of the multitude of dates and actions that will come your way early next term as we enter the final fling!

In Term 4, a Summer term, please remember your children need to bring a sunhat to school daily - even if it's raining as we never know what changes in the course of a day. You can check out the Sun Smart Policy here:

On that note, we have a new shade sail for the sandpit being installed and, of course, we are hoping our outdoor classroom will be ready for the arrival back to school. The Character Strength of 'Hope' cannot be underestimated! We always count on lots of opportunities for Education Outside of the Classroom (EOTC) in the final term along with a final push with the 'basics' against our annual Reading, Writing and Maths targets. We were determined not to take the accelerator off in this tipsy topsy year, we haven't and the mahi is paying off, thanks to you too for the engagement in your child's learning and progress. "It takes a village......"

A parent Working Bee, Children's Disco, End of Year Progress Discussion with your child's Base Group teacher, End of Year, Year 6 Leavers events and the 2020 School Community 'Wrap' will all be a go (Everything crossed for Level 1 to stay with us). At this time, our heads are very much in 2021 mode as we look to transition for children moving spaces, designing of learning programmes, building of annual plans and target setting...... even down to good ol' stationery lists and how many sharpies are really required!!

We talk about the absolute value we place on our whole child philosophy - academic AND physical AND social AND emotional....... wellbeing in order for our children to have a chance to not just get by - but to live a flourishing life in the future. 

That's my desire for the staff over this break. The requirement to take heed of their whole person too and take the steps needed to be their best 'person' too.

We need to practice what we 'teach'. Please see our Positive Education/Wellbeing model below.


18 September 2020

posted 17 Sept 2020, 21:05 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 17 Sept 2020, 21:10 ]

On Monday, we welcomed new children/whānau to the school at the mihi whakatau. Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui. Be brave, be brave, be steadfast - and what a great way to start Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. Māori Language Week. There has been a lot of great learning out there!
Some of you experienced the children running Positive Education workshops on Optimism a couple of weeks ago at the SLCs. I'm sure some of them were engaging those Character Strengths of Leadership, Bravery, Zest, Teamwork... possibly some hope... and more!
The shared language of Character Strengths is a valued feature of our school and, when I talk with teaching staff who are newer to the school, this is something they often talk about - the embedded nature of strengths. 'Strengths spotting' in others, understanding our strengths make us unique from others but together we can achieve great things!
When staff join our school they all undertake the VIA Character Strengths survey and also Strengths Profile (CAPP, UK) which provides some insight into performance, use and energy levels around pieces of work. Awareness of how often we use our 'top' strengths and setting out to deliberately plan for engaging them is one factor in increasing resilience. As a staff, we need to do the learn and live aspects - before we can successfully teach and eventually embed this science with the children in the aim of providing them with tools to take on their life's journey.
"Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence" is one of the Character Strengths I have deliberately been trying to focus on in the last couple of weeks, taking a moment to actually notice the things around me. How fortunate we are to live and work in such a beautiful, ever changing environment - totally enveloped in nature!
This Character Strength positively correlates with 'openness to experience, altruism, devotion to others/larger community and capacity for change'. Sounds pretty good to me, so I'm certainly going to try and keep being appreciative of what's around us!
Remember the beautiful illustrations our children and community developed a couple of years ago?

This is how they all fit together:

For more information on Character Strengths, watch the following video - A Universal Language that Describes What’s Best in Us by Ryan Niemiec.

11 September 2020

posted 10 Sept 2020, 19:35 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 15 Oct 2020, 17:50 ]

A couple of weeks ago, I looked up the synonyms for the word I could use to best describe this year. I came up with quite a list of synonyms relating to unusual (eccentric, freakish, idiosyncratic, nonconformist, unconventional, unorthodox, extraordinary, preternatural, rare, deviant, uncommon, uncustomary, unwanted, odd, peculiar, strange...)

So, in one of these years in the life of a school, like in your homes and workplaces, things have been turned a little bit sideways! In the main, our tamariki and staff have marched forwards and ridden over the speed humps as smoothly as they could.... and I thought the massive building project would be the main distraction. How very wrong I was, but in a way it (the building project) has seemed more like a gentle breeze rather than a howling southerly.

What it has meant, however, is our usual fundraising efforts, which we so heavily rely on for resourcing - staff and stuff - has had to be cancelled as in Disco number 1, food for Arts Celebration, and due to the uncertainty and not being able to have many people on site due to no driveway (Health and Safety) and who knows regarding Alert Levels... has meant that our fabulous School Fair has had to be altered in this deviant year. 

Not all is lost, the phoenix will rise and something inventive is being cooked up in the fundraising oven to help with the blip this will cause the school, and no doubt many others.....

Come March 2021, we will be celebrating the opening of a wonderful 'new' school. This serves as a wonderful opportunity to wrap something festive and fun (draising-ish) around this much anticipated moment in the life of Te Kura o Whetūkairangi and bring the community together in a new year. Yay - so a new addition here! Then the 'normal' Fair come November 2021. Again. 

Also, we have a lot of smaller things going on. Rust doesn't sleep! You would've see in the last Newsletter that we have made $5150 so far from:
  • Sausage Sizzle
  • Pizzas
  • Pilates
  • Hoodies
  • Deli Items (ongoing until none left - and very delicious)
  • Munch
Soon we have:
  • Knack Market - Saturday 19 September
  • Quiz Night - Thursday 24 September
  • Double Vision - Brew for Good (date to come soon)
  • Disco number 2 (Friday 30 October)
.......and there may be room for a little bit more!

It's a bit tough, yes, but with creativity, energy, goodwill, strong networks and just plain old good ideas, I feel confident that we can do it. 

Thanks for your mahi and looking forward to new challenges and perspectives. We need to aim to not just bounce back but get even stronger

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