KindnessAfter the events in Christchurch last term we set our children the task of being kind. We reinforced that individual acts of kindness can change the world. That’s not just a soft response. People get through our world and do awful things because the little acts or the little talks of unkindness go unnoticed or unremarked. Our children took it on board. We celebrated their commitment to kindness in the Botanical Gardens last week. The children loved it.
The Whole Child
Sometimes people get caught up in whether a child is where they “should” be or whether they are “ahead,” or “behind.” Whereas the biggest determinants of future success are the key competencies (managing self, relating to others, participating and contributing, language symbols and texts, and thinking). Research has shown that a child who may not be reading at age 6 but has a positive attitude to learning and good key competencies will do better in terms of qualifications and income in the long run than a child who can read but has a poor attitude to learning. Those are the main outcomes measured by research and I’m not saying they are indicators of happiness or success. However when we get concerned about how a child is performing at school its often because we’re worried about their future in terms of qualification, job prospects and income.
I can’t say this strongly enough: The thing that matters the most is the child’s attitude and their skills. There are plenty of children who vastly exceed their peers in some curriculum areas but don’t have the skills to bring it all together and succeed in the way that is needed by our world. There are also plenty of children who can’t make the grade on the teachers’ writing rubric but have the skills to change the world.
Last term Mrs Herbst, Mrs Winders and myself did two days training with a teacher from High Tech High in San Diego. His school was started by the owner of the company that makes the components that go in ALL the smartphones. As a leading edge Silicon Valley leader he felt he was poorly served by the school system who were not giving him graduates with the skills he needed. The interaction we engaged in over those two days underlined again the absolute necessity to build the whole person.
Our staff are working hard on developing authentic curriculum. That means real problems with real world connections which give children the opportunity to learn the curriculum in a context. The determinants of how well children do with this relates to success after school and these are skills like critical thinking, creativity and collaboration.
A Heart Warmer
I have just done professional observations in all of our classrooms and although we know that some of our children have literacy learning difficulties (sometimes called dyslexia- and sometimes its that, and sometimes its something else and we can’t diagnose) every single child in the school is engaged in writing and developing all of their writing skills.
We pay very special attention at St Joseph’s to children who are struggling in any area and I speak from experience – our struggling writers are outstanding in that they don’t let their difficulties get in the way of a good story. Well done to our teachers and their supportive parents! We judge writing on many aspects which I have described above and so children can succeed as writers even if they have immense troubles with spelling or grammar – and the main thing is they know it! But so often in our world these children close down and stop writing. There’s lots about St Joseph’s that makes my heart sing, one of those things is our children who struggle in one area or another still lace up their boots and do well. Our children are amazing – every single one of them.
This Friday – Union Meeting
We would really like you to pick your children up at 12.30 pm if you can. Our teachers will take the children out into the playground at 12.30 to eat their lunch (juniors in junior playground and seniors in senior playground). If you come to take your child after 12.40 pm please sign them out at the office.
Children cannot walk/bike home alone until 3.00 pm if that’s what they normally do.
If you come after 12.40 pm and take your child home and we don’t know, we have to chase you up to find out what’s happened. Please be aware that in the outrageous circumstance that a child had ended up somewhere where they are in danger, we would be putting that child at further risk by trying to find out where your child was if you hadn’t told us. Let’s not go there. That goes for morning absences too - please ring us and let us know the reason if your child is absent. That way if someone has genuinely got lost on the way to school we can get onto it quickly.
I must underline that our first concern is the wellbeing and education of your children. Although we are taking action to improve our circumstances, we are not doing this lightly.
God Bless and Aroha