Nga mihi nui ki a koutou
A very warm welcome to our new students Mollie Gleaves, Rohan Lijo, Adam Alasad, Liam Du Toit, Maddy Wheeler, Josh Binny, Ella Younger, Arielle Duytshoff and Kimberly Dobbie. Winter is upon us and learning is ramping up at St Mary’s with all of our teams focused on some great learning inquiries. It is a good time of year to check in on your children as learners with the aim of gaining an understanding of where they are presently at in their learning journey. It is important that you make contact with your child’s teacher should you have any questions or queries related to their learning.
Reports will be circulated later this term and as the first stakeholder in their learning students will have a significant role in evaluating their learning. This is a further step toward enhanced student agency (students in control of their own learning pathway) at our school and though it will mean progress is communicated in a slightly different way it is still related to learning progress. Again if you have any questions regarding progress please let your child’s teacher know.
PTA Quiz Night
On behalf of our school community my thanks to all who supported our annual Quiz Night again run by our tireless PTA and in particular Michelle Pine who headed the Quiz Committee. It was great to see the number of parents participating in the fun and digging deep to support our PTA and our school. I am sure you will all join me in congratulating our PTA on running another magnificent event.
New Build Progress - Creating Conditions for Powerful Learning
As a community we are sharing in the excitement of seeing our new learning environment nearing completion, anticipated to occur within the next 4 weeks. It has been great watching the experts bring our design to life within the heart of our school. However, it is the potential for educational outcomes from within this design that I would invite parents to explore as our objective as a school is to create conditions for powerful learning.
To further explore this concept it may be helpful to compare our time at school (as students). You may recall as I do an underlying narrative similar to this; a story that many of us bought into in order to achieve the best we could within our respective schools. It may have gone similar to this.
“If you wanted to learn something, like quadratic equations or French, then you needed to be in the right spot at the right time (your desk), with this teacher (the expert), with these kids (your class) who you had to learn the same things as at the same time. And … at the end, when the expert had shared their knowledge, then your success would be measured by their test”.
Are you able to make connections with this? Did it work for you? Did it work for everyone? Learning today asks the question “How can we create conditions for powerful learning?” Answers include concepts such as the following:
- Make environments safe and secure
- Grow personal connections
- Make learning fun
- Make learning real and relevant to life
- It should be future focused
- It should be positive and include opportunities for social interaction
- Adapt learning so it is personalised and so that students can demonstrate their passions
- There needs to opportunities for autonomy and self agency.
- Don’t constrain it to a time
If these are indeed conditions for powerful learning and these are the conditions we need to create to support our learners, then it makes sense that the way we design learning and the environment we design to support learning has to evolve.
At St Mary’s sitting in desks and waiting to be told what to do is no longer the norm. Where previously students were told to be quiet while they worked independently is now a collaborative space where learning related dialogue is encouraged. Where there were worksheets to fill time for those who finished their work early, now there areare open ended learning opportunities where children can continue to build their understanding, and there are teachers continuing to feed rather than determine the journey.
Before School Procedures and Punctuality
Thank you to all who have been making an effort with ensuring children are at school on time. It definitely makes a difference when a child is set up and ready to learn at the start of the day. Equally in our colder months it is not ideal to have children waiting in the cold for classrooms to open. All classrooms will be open and supervised from 8.30am which means children who arrive before this will need to wait in an outside area. Ideally any time from 8.15 - 8.45 is a good time to get to school.
Nga mihi nui ki a koutou
Greetings to you all and hello autumn! A special welcome to our new families and new children, Jyron Felix, Rodi Parshikov, Silvia Cha, Ethan Peters, Vienna Vale, Rusila Moqe, Vin Villegas, Sophie Schiphorst and Felix Shin.
Over the last couple of weeks we have had the opportunity to participate in a number of events as a school. Ones that we should be extremely thankful for. Of course top of the list is our fantastic PTA who, despite having to wait for the weather, ran another amazing outdoor adventure day. Our school grounds were buzzing with parents and excitement as all children got the opportunity to test themselves on the well laid out course.
On behalf of our school community I would particularly like to thank Mel Gash for her wonderful organisation of this event. I would also like to thank the organisation of our PTA on, and leading up to the day. Thanks also to the many parent volunteers who assisted in a variety of ways.
I would like to put a plug in for our PTA, they consistently raise a significant amount of money that goes directly towards the benefit of our students. The next meeting for this year is on April 11 at 7pm and it would be great to see a few new faces among the mix.
The Launch of The Parish of St Thomas Aquinas
It was great to see such a large number of our community at the Mass launching our new combined Parish earlier this month. The capacity of the Aquinas College Gymnasium was of course tested but in doing so was a great sign of community. Many I have spoken to were extremely impressed with the homily given by Bishop Stephen Lowe as a part of celebrations. It was a great recount of the history of our church in Tauranga spoken through the spiritual domain and with reference to our local area. Bishop Stephen has therefore indicated that he will provide a copy of it for people in the near future.
As we continue our journey towards the development of our learning environments as student centered enablers of learning I would like to continue to present parents with relevant information. Therefore, I have again included a couple of links that may help widen your knowledge in regard to the rationale behind changes to education both globally and within New Zealand.
Tony Grey: www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6xrTxx8hek
Ken Robinsons: https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms
Mark Osbourne: http://edtalks.org/#/video/considering-modern-learning-environments
Of concern has been the number of children put at risk as a result of driver behaviour around our school grounds. While our building project is continuing there is a restriction of access between room 10 and room 9. This has meant an increase in foot traffic down our driveway. This in turn means that we must all respect that no parent cars are to enter or exit our school driveway at all times.
The safety or our students is paramount. We therefore request that all parents take due care and diligence in respect to driving and parking around our school. The best place during summer months to drop off and collect children is our Harvey Street boundary. If this is not possible please remember that no child should be left to cross roads by themselves after being dropped at school.
Before School Procedures and Punctuality
There has been a growing number of children arriving late to school recently which is not ideal for learning. Hopefully with some more light in the mornings post an end to daylight savings routines will be easier to manage. On the other end of the spectrum there are often children who are dropped off before 8am or sometimes earlier. Our before school procedures state that all classrooms will be open and supervised from 8.30am which means children who arrive before this will need to wait in an outside area. During summer months this is not so much of an issue but as the winter months arrive it is not ideal. Ideally any time from 8.15 - 8.45 is a good time to get to school.
Work continues on our current building project and I am sure you will, like me, be following progress. The new block will house our year 2 students and will in the future provide a continued pathway of innovation through our junior school teams.
Present predictions for the completion of this project are for late June, early July, which will mean open for business at the beginning of term 3.
A reminder of some health and safety practices that we have been required to implement. These include controlled entry of all construction related vehicles and specific site access requirements. Please ensure when you are here out of hours with your children you are aware of any work that is in progress.
Last week, I accompanied a group of leaders from within our school to the most recent ‘newly built’ school in our wider area. Endeavour school in Hamilton. Of great interest was how teachers focused on providing deeper learning experiences enabled by the environment.
Contact with our Community
In order to remain in contact with our school community it is vital that we have up to date contact details for all parents and caregivers. If your details have changed, paticularly phone numbers and email addresses, or you think you are not receiving information either from our office or your child’s teacher please let our office know.
Nga mihi nui