Thursday 27 November 2014

1. Principal News - Week, Term 4

Teaching and Learning Classes for 2015
Those of you who were able to attend our family learning huis will know that we have been sharing the way that we are engaging our children in deep learning for success. We have just finished gathering our assessments for our children and their excellent results reflect our focus on engagement in learning. Adaptations to classroom environments and digital resources are tools that are being used innovatively and effectively to support the outstanding quality of teaching that we provide at St Joseph's.
I wish to reiterate this. It is the way the teachers are utilising these resources that makes the difference.  We have spent the last 5 years focusing on effective teaching skills in relation to engaging every student in their learning. Our research and practice has led us to a collaborative teaching model supported by technology. This means that teachers and classes will no longer be operating individually in single celled classrooms. Teachers will be planning together, sharing this planning with you and the children online and teaching together. Your children will have the benefit of learning from 2 to 4 highly skilled teachers all working together to provide the optimal learning environments for your child across the school. I have been a teacher for almost 35 years and truly believe that learning has never been as engaging or productive for the children as it is now. 
We are pleased to be supported by your overwhelmingly positive response to our teaching and learning practices in our recent survey. We encourage you to continue to ask questions, attend our learning huis and embrace and engage with learning to find out how you can continue to support your child. We invite you to learn with your children as we come together for more of these opportunities in 2015.
In 2015 the children will be based in home rooms with their home teacher and will also benefit from learning from multiple teachers across a learning hub of rooms. These will be:
Kauri NE - Mrs Brookes & Kawakawa Yr 1/2  - Miss Clouston (in the existing Kauri & Kawakawa classes). The existing Rimu classroom will become an extra junior classroom when needed.

Rimu Yr 2 - Mrs Burke & Tawa Yr 3 - Miss Huls (in the existing Koru and Library spaces)

Totara Yr 4 - Mrs Dooley & Pohutukawa Yr 5 - Mr Cartlidge (in the existing Pohutukawa & Kahikatea classes)

Kahikatea Yr 6 - Miss Tangney, Manuka Yr 7 - Mrs Frances-Rees & Matai Yr 8 - Mr Moore 
(the whole top floor - 4 rooms of the upstairs learning space with Kahikatea based in the existing Kowhai classroom). This provides a better transition for our Year 6's into our Intermediate Department and helps to prepare them for learning, leadership and independence in Year 7 & 8.

Next year's Year 8's will use their experience from growing their independent learning skills in 2014 and act as learning mentors for the new Year 7's and 6's.  This will give the Year 6's three years of intense support and growth as they transition towards becoming  learning mentors in their own right in preparation for St Kevin's. Our staff will be continuing to develop the learning relationships begun this year with our St Kevin's teaching colleagues, with further meetings being arranged for 2015. Ultimately we believe our children will leave us in Year 8, fully prepared to succeed in Year 9 and beyond.

In order to create these new learning environments, the library will be relocated to the existing Tawa class in the junior school. The Koru community & staff room will be relocated to the existing Totara classroom beside the office. 

If you have any questions about this information, then I encourage you to ask me to answer them for you. I would be delighted to help you understand and learn more about how we truly engage our children in deep learning for success at St Joseph's and remain committed to our Catholic faith.

Family Learning hui 2014
Multicutural Day
Monday was a very special day. Thanks so much to Jan Plieger for coordinating the day and to all of the parents who contributed with activities, food and performances. Miss Huls took some stunning photos that captured the day very well. You can see them on our school Facebook page and further down in this blog. We are fortunate that our Pasifika  and Filipino communities have taken the initiative to run their own after school cultural clubs. There is certainly room for anyone passionate about the Kiwi culture to step forward and do the same. Please let me know if you are keen.

Pasifika Presentation
Last Friday, our Board Chairperson, Tua  Misiloi and I were privileged to be invited to present to a Pasifika Advisory Group and guests on behalf of our Oamaru cluster of schools. We were proud to represent the good work that all of our staff do in ensuring that every learner engages in their learning. You can read more by going to this link here.

Tua and I at University of Canterbury
Thank you email
Our children have continued to receive cards and letters of thanks for the cards that they made for visitors to Oamaru recently. Here is the latest email:
The Executive of Energy Trusts of NZ would like to thank all the pupils of St Joseph’s School for the absolutely lovely cards of welcome to all the delegates to our conference we held in Oamaru recently.
It was a lovely gesture on the part of the pupils and all of us really enjoyed reading your cards of welcome and your wonderful colourful drawings. It was a lovely surprise.
We all especially enjoyed seeing the penguins come in from the bay and to shelter for the night. There were so many of them and great to be able to see their real blue colours.
Thanks again for making our stay in Oamaru so enjoyable.
With Kind regards
from the Energy Trusts of NZ Executive Team.

Parent Survey
We received 63 responses to our recent survey. This has provided us with some valuable feedback to inform our future planning. The board will be looking at the responses and comments at our final board meeting on Tuesday. I will display the graphs from the online survey on the planning wall outside the office and publish the board feedback to the survey responses next week. Thanks to all of you who took the time to participate in the survey.

Reconciliation and Advent
Fr Wayne has invited all of us to attend reconciliation after Mass this weekend as we prepare for Christmas. We pray for all of the children preparing to make their First Reconciliation on Sunday as part of their commitment to our Catholic Faith. You can read more about the season of Advent in the Special Character blog post from Mrs Frances-Rees below.

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