Our start of year connection and education change:
The last couple of weeks have been hugely important. Giving staff the chance to begin to share our thinking around why we do what we do meant that you were able to share, question and discuss with them what this meant for their child. It all helped strengthen that understanding and relationship between us that is so important for learning success.
Below is a 'TED Talk' by Sir Ken Robinson who is a very respected educationalist and an individual who travels the world talking about the need for our education system (and the politics that surround it) to change with the times and be fit for purpose for our children and the changes they face in this century. Take the time to watch it and be inspired. It's a great encouragement with what we as a school are talking about and working at doing with our teaching and learning. Sir Ken Robinson outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish — and how current education culture works against them. In a funny, stirring talk he tells us how to get out of the educational "death valley" we now face, and how to nurture our youngest generations with a climate of possibility.
Last week at the first Board meeting of the year some of the decision highlights included:
Last year your end of year portfolio was not updated with specific examples of work. Instead of committing significant teacher and class time to this task I asked the teachers to instead focus on their teaching and learning programmes and in summarising the work exampled from their daily work in your child's end of year report. As a school we are serious about providing a vibrant, engaging and enriching learning environment for each and every child and their individual needs. Our start of year process has all been about re-engaging with you about your child and their learning needs.
By law all schools must report to parents in plain language and in writing at least twice a year on students' progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards. Going forward Waipahihi School will develop a written report that is concise and easily understood, outline a child's progress and achievement, and be free from educational jargon. Benefits of this include:
Individual assessment snapshots, displayed and viewed out of the big picture, do not give due consideration to the wider learning contexts that examples your child as a learner. They provide a very nice learning artefact, but it is our children's everyday work and how they interact with others, that really examples the effort, attitude, progress and achievement of them as a learner. That's what we want to summarise for you and talk to you about.
Upcoming Staff Professional Learning Days
There are two scheduled for staff over the next couple of months. One is in term time and is booked for the Thursday before Easter - Thursday March 24. The other is booked for the last Friday of the term break - Friday 29 April. A staff professional learning day during the term time is not an option we take lightly as we understand the logistics of organising family and work can be difficult. Thank you for your support and understanding of this day.
The first day focuses on the relationship between teacher practice and professional practice and the interactions that go with that - all based on our code of ethics as teachers. This will then lead into the reflection tool we will be using this year as part of our staff appraisal process.
The second day in the term break is a first aid refresher course for all staff who hold a current first aid certificate. Keeping these up to date is an important part of our duty of care and health and safety procedures.
It has been really good to hear the positive feedback from both parents and teachers around our start of year process. The whole point over the last two weeks has been to to give both you (as the parent/s) and your teacher the opportunity to develop that connection around your child that is so important to continued learning success. You and your child are at the heart of what we do. If we don't develop that key understanding of your child and the relationship with you then we won't have your trust in how we are working to provoke, deepen and connect learning in our school.
Below is an example from one of the middle school presentations that gives some example of how we as a school are starting to challenge some of our practices and beliefs around how we do this thing we call school!
One of the challenges of our job is to help our children develop that 'learning grit' that is necessary for success in life - no matter what vocation our children follow! The following illustration is a great example for each of our children need learning set at that 'plus one' of where they're at. If it's too easy to be successful then they'll never learn how to develop those essential skills for keeping on going when the going gets tough!
A key part of the start of year process in the big picture of our schools continued development is to reflect on the 2015 annual plan and its associated action plans, review what we achieved and set where we want to go for 2016 and beyond.
The strategic aims for 2016 planning are:
The key initiatives that are detailed from them in specific actions are focussed around:
They are aspirational initiatives and will require effort and input from all of us. They give us the opportunity to build on the strengths of our school and to be challenged to take our individual practices and beliefs around teaching and learning as a community to the next level together.
Keep an eye out for a news update next week on how these initiatives are taking shape.
Weekly news and views from the Principal...