Staff change in Te Ohanga (New Entrant team)
With an increasing roll Team Te Ohanga has started this term with a fourth teacher. Chanelle Wootton, who was meant to be returning to the Te Ohanga team, has requested extended leave due to personal family circumstances. This has been granted and therefore Ian McCabe has stepped in to fill the ensuing vacancy in Team Te Ohanga for the rest of this year. We welcome Ian to into this teaching roll and look forward to working alongside him.
The Waipahihi Learning Journey...
Displayed below, and coming home today in hard copy, is an overview of how our Seesaw Reporting process is being rolled out to you. The key dates to note are:
Thursday 28 July - Seesaw information booklet sent home
The mid year Learning Conferences run over multiple days from Monday 8 August to Friday 19 August.
Please take the time to browse over the information coming home today (and linked below) and we'll see you next week at one of the parent sessions.
Our developing School Vision
Below is our developing vision from our initial consultation and development with staff, board, FOS and Whanau Hui. The foundation of our vision is centred around our Kaitiaki (guardian) 'Tia' who stands at the front entrance to our school with the 'Diploma of Life' in his hand (for more about the story of Tia click here). Tia stands as a reminder to us all that we are all working together, whether we're a student learner or a teaching team supporting the learning, in this journey of "Learning for Life". Together this is represented by the statement "Working Together as One - Mahi Tahi Tatou".
Our why (the centre) is supported by the key principles of our practice - the how this looks in our school, and then by the outer circle, what these principles look like in practice across our teaching teams.
Early next term I'll be sharing and discussing this overview of our vision with those same groups (staff, board, FOS and Whanau Hui) again and will also have some opportunity during the 'parent - teacher' learning conference sessions in Weeks 3 & 4 for you catch up with me about this development. It's exciting to breath some new life into the vision of our school as it centres and drives everything we do. I look forward to catching up with you at one of those opportunities early in the new term.
Our Reporting Philosophy
Our Reporting to parents practice that is going to be showcased around your child's Seesaw learning journey is based on the philosophy of acknowledging the learning process that develops across the full six year journey of primary school. Every child progresses and achieves in a different way - unique to who they are! We use assessment strategies as a tool to support our understanding of everyday learning observations and conversations, not as the key indicator. We want to share with you your child's real life authentic learning examples, based on developing the Key Competencies (Managing Self, Relating to Others, Participating and Contributing, Thinking, Using Language, Symbols and Texts)
These rich, key competency based, journal entries will be shared with you via your child's seesaw account. All supporting comments in any journal entry will provide the learning context that the skills being displayed represent and will give you an understanding of what their progress and achievement, relevant to your child as an individual, looks like against national expectations.
I look forward to sharing the beginning of this 'Seesaw' journey with you in Week 2 of Term 3 and to its rollout being supported by our Learning conference sessions in Weeks 3&4.
Education Resourcing Review
Last week I attended the first Ministry of Education session on the proposed directions for change around the way our education system is funded. At the moment our school is funded the following way:
Anyway we're at the start of (apparently) a process that they want to have developed and refined before the next census in 2020 (which is when they recalculate the deciles again). Have a browse of the seven proposed directions for change but take note that these are being proposed with no funding increase, that is the size of the funding pie does not change! Note number seven and ask yourself where the money is going to come from for the increased private school funding?
Over the next term this is another thing that I'll aim to discuss with the different groups across our school so when the real consultation with the Ministry begins I can truely represent the feeling of our community.
Have a great term break!
Sharing our children's learning journey
Last week I shared some of the many ways we try to communicate with you around school life. Another important element of communication that is targeted specifically to you and your child/ren are our 'formal' reporting points at the mid and end of year around their learning journey progress and achievement. This year the way we want to do this is through a medium that helps bring alive the reality of your child/ren's learning across the curriculum. We want to share with you real authentic examples, based on developing the Key Competencies (Managing Self, Relating to Others, Participating and Contributing, Thinking, Using Language, Symbols and Texts) of how your child's learning is happening and in ways that could answer the following questions:
The way we are going to do this is not through a written report, or through a bit of paper that ticks a National Standard box. This year, our school will be using Seesaw, a secure online learning journal where students can create and upload examples that document their learning, in real time. Your child will add things like photos, videos, worksheets, drawings and voice recordings to their Seesaw journal. It can demonstrate in real time learning that can't be summed up on a piece of paper, or given real context by ticking a box. These rich, key competency based, journal entries will be shared with you via your child's seesaw account.
Seesaw has the ability to have you sign up for a Seesaw Parent account to be notified when your child adds new content and have access to their journal. It is set up as an app on your phone and only lets you see learning entries that are posted by your child or shared with a group that your child is in - just like at school. When your child adds new work, you will receive a notification to see, hear and respond to your child’s learning item. You only have access to the work that is shared with you and all of the content is stored securely within the Waipahihi School Seesaw structure. It is not able to be shared onto an outside social media timeline. Your access to this will be set to go and shared with you early next term. These will then be used as the foundation of our learning conference opportunities that you will be able to book in across Weeks 3 & 4 of Term 3.
We are looking forward to your child using Seesaw to document and share their learning this year and to develop this process with you!
Community Connection with School
This week I want to briefly highlight the varied approaches that our school uses to connect with our parent community and what we are working at to improve these lines of communication. This is an ongoing process and something that we take seriously. Please browse the list below and let me know if you have any ideas to improve some of the systems we have.
Some ongoing examples are:
Some meeting examples are:
It's all about culture...
One of the highlights from the conference last week was the consistent theme about the importance of developing a shared understanding and ownership of the learning culture that makes our place unique. There is no other school that has the people in it that we do. Our children, our teachers, our whānau all combine together to create the learning culture is embodied everyday in what we do together at this thing called school.
So much of what we do is trying hard to engage, enrich, challenge and respect each and every learner and family - and yet we are human - and so some of that effort and intent from all of us (whether teacher or parent or child) can be misrepresented and misinterpreted. The very nature of life complicates this as the traditional (what we know or remember school to be) interacts and collides with the now (what we want or inspire to create or be as school). The picture below examples this in a school culture sense:
The tug of war that goes on within a vibrant school community and learning culture environment is nicely exampled by the tug of war! For all of us who face change and challenge in our everyday life the atmosphere and intent of school is working together with you to develop the knowledge and skills necessary for our children to not only cope, but to thrive and adapt in the age we live in and the future we face.
My job as Principal is not only to manage the day to day running of the school but to lead the development of a vibrant teaching and learning culture that is based on an enriching, engaging wide curriculum that encourages our tamariki to be resilient, respectful, courageous and creative in ways that compliment the uniqueness that is their own. (Needless to say I think that I came back from conference inspired...)
Keep an eye out for the separate email coming home to you where I would love your feedback on the developing learning vision that we have been co-constructing over the past six months with our staff and our different parent groups. With your support we can continue to grow this together!
Learning Environment Conference - Initial reflection...
For the last three days I have been fortunate enough to be able to attend the Learning Environment Conference in Melbourne. This event was unique as it specifically aimed at bringing architects, designers and educationalists (all of whom have a different perspective) together to consider this thing we call school and how the design and space we have interacts and influences both 'school' and the 'learning' that is happens within that environment.
Our school is not brand new and it was designed and built in an era when the thinking about classroom space and learning was quite simply about a room - period. There was not much (if any) thought given to acoustics, lighting, insulation and the overall link between the purpose and the specific design and use of space. All schools sixty years ago were one of three or four simple designs, no matter where they were being built. They also did not consider how they would grow if and when that happened. One of the key messages over the three days from speakers and site visits to school was that whether you are a new or an existing school we have to consider the development of the space we have and be specific about how we plan to develop and use the space, both now and in the future.
Planned development (and re-development) is key. This year in July we begin a new capital works budget period (Ministry of Education fund capital works projects on two five yearly cycles which form the 10 year Property Plan). This gives us a chance to develop a master plan that reflects our intent to connect our changing practice with ongoing property and building changes and innovation. The visible culture of learning at our school can be enhanced by planned and connected property development. This is also important as our town continues to grow over the coming years and Waipahihi School sitting at the end of town which has the space and residential zoning for growth.
One of the key contacts made while on this conference was with one of the key Ministry officials who is the key 'point man' for all the regional property facilitators and who is an old boy of our school! This contact is in our town at the end of the month and he's keen to come and have a look around 'our place' and talk about where we're at. While we are not earmarked for a massive injection of new building, developing key contacts like this, planning strategically for the years ahead and being adaptable to changes around us will stand us in good stead when the time comes!
Tuesday night documentary link
If you didn't get a chance to watch this on Tuesday night then please take the time to click on the picture above and watch it on TV3Now (online). What ever we perceive school and learning to be it is important to take the time to consider the context that has framed this thing called school and learning and have some discussion around something that has a huge part to play in all our lives!
Monday reflection: Our School and our Learning
On Monday night we had a great crowd of (approximately) 80 parents come along to our school hall to hear about what is changing with learning at our school. I began the evening by asking everyone to consider two questions:
With these two questions in mind I introduced the scene of what our place is about before everyone headed off to the different team information. A quick summary is below:
Our children need to know that success is not easy - but requires grit, perseverance and effort! As a team our staff stood as a group - then moved into teaching teams - then into the collaborative teaching teams - then into the different curriculum teams. This was done to demonstrate that the expectation we have for our children to collaborate and innovate together in their learning is the same expectation we have of ourselves as teachers in the way we collaborate together to make our learning programmes relevant, engaging and innovative for our children!
The different teaching teams then took groups of parents back to their own space and shared 'the coal face' experience. Thanks to all our parents who came out for that evening. We look forward to seeing you at the next evening we hold.
School and Home - next weeks sharing opportunities
Next week we have two opportunities to share and talk with you.
The first is on Monday 23 May @ 5.30pm and is a chance to hear an update on what is happening with the structure of teaching and learning across our school.
This will start with an introduction and overview from me around the re-developing learning vision of our school, the overarching aims and initiatives that our school is developing and how our teaching teams are adapting and developing their practice to support and example them. The clips shared in last weeks post are a good example of how some of the thinking around the structure of what learning looks like, compared to 'our day', has changed. The different teaching teams will then break away into different spots around the school to talk to you.
There is a bbq on (free) and care provided for your children in the staffroom (movie time!). We look forward to seeing you there.
The second opportunity for contact is on Thursday night (May 26 again at 5.30) and is our Whānau Hui. This is a more informal gathering and is open to ALL parents, grandparents, caregivers of Waipahihi children to come along and share ideas, find out what's going on in our community, and meet other parents/grandparents who want to make a difference.
Come along and bring a plate for shared kai!
The Surprising Truth About Learning in Schools
As part of the lead in to our Parent Information evening that we are holding in a couple of weeks time I have posted this TEDx talk for you to watch and consider. In it Will Richardson (a leading thinker and writer about the intersection of social online learning networks and education) takes his knowledge of how to help kids develop into powerful learners and looks at how school has tried, and how it needs to reconsider, how to make that happen.
It's a great watch and is quite confronting in the way that he explains how we (as parents) know a system and structure of school that is not appropriate for the time we live in and the world that our children will end up 'working' in. The vast amount of knowledge, the ease of access to that knowledge with digital tools means that we have to balance the learning of knowledge with the ability to know how to apply and use that knowledge - ie to think!
As a school we are working together and developing learning programmes that challenge our children to manage themselves; to participate and contribute in the learning programme, to relate to others in both learning and social situations and to develop their thinking. A curriculum and learning programme centred on the key competencies, with a foundation of enriching learning contexts, is what brings reading, writing and maths to life.
Parent Information Evening - Monday May 23 @ 5.30pm
On Monday May 23 @ 5.30pm we're offering a parent evening for you to come and hear about the developments in our teaching and learning programmes. This includes the continued development of our collaborative teaching teams and the digital tools that are being integrated back into the learning programmes over Term 2. The evening will start off in the hall all together for an introduction and then we'll break into the different teams across the school where they'll share what each team (and the teaching teams within that) are up to. Bring your kids so you can both go to a different session as we'll have something organised for them.
We aim over time to give continued opportunities for you to stay connected with the developments of our teaching teams.
Developing Self-Directed Learning Fundamentals
Below is a short two and a half minute clip that gives a good example of the fundamentals that support the development of self-directed learning within the context of the different age and stage of our learners. Have a look and think about what this might look like for your child.
Dr. Peter Gray is an evolutionary psychologist that studies how people learn.
Teaching team and learning programme development
One of our major initiatives this year is developing the depth and understanding of teachers collaborating around our children's learning. Part of this means we have to consider whether the way we do the things we do is because they’re better for kids or because they are easier for us as teachers and what we 'expect' as parents?
Our teaching team is continually challenging their practices and beliefs about what is appropriate for teaching our children in 2016 and the tools and skills we are using to equip and enable our children to be ready for life and work in this 21st Century. Below are some pictures of how are learning spaces are changing to further support this change of philosophy.
Connecting with whanau - parent evening May 23
On Monday May 23 @ 5.30pm we're offering a parent evening for your to come and hear about the developments in our teaching and learning programmes. It's an important part of our development that we take multiple opportunities over time to share with you our school journey and the belief that underpins why we do what we do. This includes the continued development of our collaborative teaching teams and the digital tools that are being integrated back into the learning programmes over Term 2.
The evening will start off in the hall all together for an introduction from me (Tim) and then we'll break into the different teams across the school where they'll share what each team (and the teaching teams within that) are up to. While I realise that many of us have children across different teams what you will hear in one team setting will have some overarching belief connections with the others. Bring your kids so you can both go to a different session as we'll have something organised for them. We aim over time to give continued opportunities for you to stay connected with the developments of our teaching teams.
Waipahihi School App for Apple and Android phones
We now have a school app! We're aiming to make connection between home and school as easy and seamless as possible. The App lets you:
To download and get into it the App Store Direct Links -