Friday, 2 March 2018

1. Principal's News Week 5 - Term 1 2018

Student Engagement
Our main goal for our students is our vision:

Reach for the Stars as Lifelong Learners in the Catholic Faith

And what that looks like in learning is:

Every child engaged and empowered in deep learning for success.

We can measure engagement and its a good way of  keeping track of how we're going.  At the end of 2016 and again at the end of 2017 we used New Zealand Council for Educational Research surveys to analyse the level and type of student engagement at St Joseph's.

We are pleased to report that that was a significant increase in the following areas from 2016 to 2017:
  • being proud to be at the school, 
  • respect for other students, 
  • respect for space and property,
  • feeling safe, 
  • making progress in learning, 
  • participating in learning, 
  • interest in learning and feeling that schoolwork has relevance to things they do outside of school.  
One concerning aspect raised in the survey was that groups of children who reported finding it difficult to concentrate were the same group who played more than the average amount of "video games." We've noticed that too - just something to be aware of.

Swimming Sports
A big thank you to Mrs Brien who has put in hours of extra work this week organising the swimming sports. Today was amazing - well planned, smoothly executed and the children were awesome - they had fun and were respectful and resilient right through. We're particularly impressed by the children who took a step further and swam out of their comfort zones. Well done everyone.

Go Mrs Jones-Hogan
Sara Jones-Hogan, our year 7 teacher is presently coming 22nd in the Alps to Ocean ultra marathon (out of 352 runners) and 7th female. Check out the Otago Daily Times article and also their Facebook page for the marathon.

Sara finishing yesterday's 86km run (from Alps to Ocean Facebook Page)
The runners come in some time between 11am and 1pm on Saturday morning at Friendly Bay.  We encourage students and their families to turn up to welcome Sara.

Fundraising for Tonga

Thank you to our year 8s who have planned and organised our response to the damage Cyclone Gita did in Tonga.  We are making this our Lenten focus.  In Lent we have a time of waiting and preparing for Easter where we fast (give something up), give alms (give help to others), and make the extra commitment to pray more.  We are remembering the road Jesus took to Jerusalem as he knowingly walked towards his death which would save us all.

For our almsgiving the year 8s have organised a gold coin donation mufti day for yesterday and they are making goodies to sell on Friday after school.

With the mufti day and stalls, the Yr 8's have raised $660 which is a fantastic effort and Fr Wayne has generously offered to match this amount.  Thank you to all who helped with this fundraiser, especially Mrs Dooley for overseeing it.

Goal setting interviews
Thank you to the many families who have contributed their thoughts to help us set goals with your children.  This year we are making a cumulative report form.  The beginning of this is the goals they have set for reading, writing, maths, and a key competency.  These will be updated every term and we will also add in assessment for the other curriculum areas; - RE, PE, The Arts, Social Sciences and Science.  The children will of course cover lots more learning goals as the year progresses and the ones they record will be ways of showing you some examples of their learning progress.

Device-Use at St Joseph's
At the end of 2016 we had a lot of really useful input from our families that helped us set our direction for St Joseph's for the next three years.  We've stuck to that input and have made a lot of progress towards our three year goals during 2017.  One of the things we discussed at that time was devices.  Like the other things we agreed, we are sticking to it:

  • Devices are for ADDING to learning - we try not to use them just to replace a pen and paper but to add value to learning. We value pen and paper and want our children to be versatile
  • We aim at structured learning and calm classrooms where appropriate (but can't always be calm if we're learning dance or haka for instance).
  • We value respect - manners, standing back for adults, no backchat etc.
  • No devices before school, or without adult supervision and permission.
  • Handheld devices or phones stay in bags.
  • Headphones may be used for activities given by the teacher - e.g. listening to read aloud books, or other learning support reasons - not for listening to music.

Staff Development
Last week was a huge week for staff development.  Four teachers and a teacher aide attended a day's training in Dunedin on phonics.  Our introduction of a phonics program in 2017 helped our juniors to accelerate their reading progress and we are committed to continuing this explicit teaching of basic reading and writing skills.

All of our teacher aides, Sara Jones-Hogan our Special Education Needs Coordinator and Leanne Brookes our Junior School Leader, also attended training in Ashburton in systems for helping struggling young readers and providing direct interventions for year 2 & 3 readers who are not making expected progress.

At the same time last week, spread over four days, our Whitestone Kahui Ako (Community of Learning) schools were all involved in substantial professional development in research-based, evidence-informed practice.   Each of our teachers attended a facilitated session to share and develop best practice with teachers from other schools including St Kevin's.

We are really looking forward to implementing all this new learning into programs which help our students reach for the stars.

Remember to enter for the Whitestone Wipeout April 7th 2018 - and check out the Home and School Annual Report on this blog.

God bless and Aroha
Lorraine Frances-Rees

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