Steering Clear of P.L.O.M. Town
As I sit down to write this Messenger article, I have much to think about and many reflections regarding our world and our current situation. Like most, my family are mostly working and learning from home. There is growing frustration regarding many aspects of our lives – events and rites of passage we have missed – birthdays, weddings, major life milestones and a funeral. I am also currently managing a household of passionate Melbourne supporters who are devastated that they cannot attend football games during this, their year of success.
Happy Father's Day to all the Woodleigh Dads and Special Dudes out there! Please accept this Dad joke as a token of our respect and esteem. Special thanks to Minimbah Year 4 student Jack W for the expert timing and delivery.
It would be easy to let our minor, first-world problems dominate our mindset and develop a sense of helplessness and negativity. As a colleague of mine would say, it would be easy to develop a PLOM (Poor Little Old Me) complex for ourselves.
I have spent time reflecting on my leadership and relationships with others and called upon my mindful leadership training to reinforce my strategies and form a positive mindset about the life we are currently experiencing. This training has taught me how to use mindfulness techniques to be aware of my thoughts and feelings and understand how external events can impact the way I feel.
The three pillars of Mindfulness, Selflessness and Compassion are very simple to understand and easy to bring into every aspect of our lives. Practising ten minutes of mindfulness each morning provides an opportunity to check in with my feelings and thoughts and reminds me to be present in the moment and present for others. Carving out this little piece of time each morning creates a massive difference in my day.
I was in a Zoom lesson recently, and it occurred to me that in every class I have attended lately, there is always at least one student who is actively engaged, positive, full of fun and happy to be learning. I often find myself wondering, 'What is their home life like?" And, "How is it that they can always retain their positivity?" In most cases, it comes from the mindset of their homes and their families.
These students and their families are experiencing the same difficulties as the rest of us; however, they view their world with hope and optimism and take care of their wellbeing whenever possible. They often describe a great walk or bike ride they had taken or talk about completing a tricky puzzle or sharing an amazing meal they had cooked for their family. They are immersed in an environment that embraces hope and positivity, and they look for opportunities to enjoy life, no matter what the circumstances are.
With that attitude in mind, when I read these words from Author and Mental Health Advocate, Jill Stark, I felt they were worth sharing. They capture the feeling that many Melburnians are currently dealing with, but zoom out to bring a perspective of Mindfulness, Selflessness and Compassion to Melbourne's current situation and our pathway out of lockdown.
"I know it feels like groundhog day, but we're not where we were a year ago. We have a vaccine now. It's our pathway out of this. Every day that passes gets us closer to an easier way of living.
The sacrifices we made weren't for nothing. We saved countless lives, protected the most vulnerable, and stopped our hospitals from being overwhelmed. That matters. Your efforts matter. Be proud.
If you're finding it hard to see light at the end of the tunnel, I get it. We've been doing this a long time. But don't let your tired brain trick you into believing things won't change. They already are.
After a slow start, our vaccination rates are increasing rapidly and are now, per capita, higher than the rates the UK and US achieved at their peak.
And that's before we see a huge boost to supply in coming weeks. There's every reason to believe we'll quickly reach 80 per cent of over 12s fully vaccinated, and will probably smash through that target.
And when we do, life is going to look very different.
This suffering is real, and it's hard, but it's finite. We can survive anything if we know it will one day end. That day is closer than it currently feels.
We will get to the other side. And when we get to wrap our arms around the people we love, how sweet that moment will be. I can't wait."
While endless press conferences and news bulletins spruik doom and gloom, I choose to be grateful for my life, my family, for the wonderful school that I am privileged to lead and for the amazing place that we call home – the Mornington Peninsula. The people I spend Zoom time with every day, the classes that I attend, and the optimism of our community inspire me to seek out and enjoy the many positive aspects of our lives and the many positive relationships that surround me daily.
When our situation feels desperate, that’s the time for us to change our perspective, to zoom out and refocus. Times are certainly challenging right now, but we are closer to the end of this than it feels.
During the implementation of our Continuous Learning Plan (CLP), the school uses surveys to check in with students, staff, and parents about the experience of learning from home. Pulse surveys are commonly used in a range of organisational, community and business contexts as a way of monitoring participation and engagement in specific programs, projects and services. Given our ongoing need to respond to the current health crisis, the school uses the surveys to effectively and efficiently gather a full range of perspectives and insights into the operation and impact of the CLP over time. The data and feedback we receive from the surveys help inform the development and fine-tuning of the CLP and our approaches to teaching and learning online.
Unfortunately, the recent spike in the spread of COVID19 in Victoria has meant that we have needed to extend our time in remote learning. For this reason, the school will continue its use of pulse surveys this term, checking in with our students, teachers and parents about their experience of the CLP in the week ahead. The surveys will be short in length, easy to complete, and focused on a range of important topics relevant to our current context, with a particular interest in student learning, wellbeing, and engagement. We were delighted with the survey completion rates last year and kindly ask parents to continue to engage with the survey series this time around, so we can work in partnership to sustain and improve our support for student learning. Survey links for parents will be sent out as part of the correspondence from the Principal, so please look out for upcoming opportunities to engage with us.
Dr Richard Owens
Director of Learning, Strategy and Innovation
Bestselling author and psychologist Angela Duckworth is the world's leading expert on grit—the coveted quality that's a better indicator of success than talent or even IQ as we continue to grapple with the challenges of living in a pandemic. We can all benefit from practising being "gritty"; by looking for opportunities to learn and grow, to help us cope, practice gratitude, cultivate a growth mindset and acknowledge that we can do hard things!
What Is Grit and Why Does it Matter?
Grit is a distinct combination of passion, resilience, determination, and focus that allows a person to maintain the discipline and optimism to persevere in their goals even in the face of discomfort, setbacks, and a lack of visible progress.
Grit means maintaining the hope and vision to change even under the most challenging circumstances.
How can we foster GRIT?
As parents, carers and educators, it is up to us to instil the confidence and optimism in our young people that will allow them to push through the low moments of COVID 19.
Kids are not able to just spontaneously grow up to be "gritty" people without being supported in that.
Here are few ideas gleaned from the "grit" experts about being intentional in our quest to build grit.
#1 Find A Passion (Or At Least An Engaging Activity)
One of the characteristics of "gritty" people is that they are "especially motivated to seek happiness through focused engagement and a sense of meaning or purpose", says Duckworth, so letting a child find their passion is necessary.
"I don't think people can become truly gritty and great at things they don't love, so when we try to develop grit in kids, we also need to find and help them cultivate their passions."
Pursuing a particular interest of their choosing can help young people identify a passion and understand that practise, hard work and perseverance are the surest way to achieve.
#2 Recognize That Frustration, Confusion and Practice Are Par for the Course
In a 2013 TED Talk, Duckworth said it is the "best idea" she has heard about how to increase grit in children is to teach what Stanford professor and author of the highly acclaimed book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success , Carol Dweck, calls a "growth mindset."
Dweck has found that people with "growth mindsets" are more resilient and tend to push through struggle because they believe that hard work is part of the process, and they understand that failure is not a permanent condition. Those with "fixed mindsets", on the other hand, believe that success stems from innate talent and tend to give up easily—why work hard at something if you don't think you can change anything?
#3 Take Risks
Grit demands risk-taking. Successful people are willing to step out of their comfort zones and risk failure to learn something new or pursue a long-term goal. And while, by definition, a risk may fail, successful adults don't give up.
Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed , says,
"Lots of parents don't want to talk about their failures in front of their kids, but that's denying kids the potentially powerful experience of seeing their parents bounce back."
#4 Teach that failure is not the end
To teach children to be resilient, we need to show them real examples of how failures and setbacks can lead to success—by talking about them regularly, sharing our own experiences, and most importantly, allowing them to fail.
In his New York Times article "The Secret to Success is Failure," Paul Tough says,
"It is a central paradox of contemporary parenting, in fact: we have an acute, almost biological impulse to provide for our children, to give them everything they want and need, to protect them from dangers and discomforts both large and small. And yet we all know — on some level, at least — that what kids need more than anything is a little hardship: some challenge, some deprivation that they can overcome, even if just to prove to themselves that they can."
Duckworth suggests that taking the lead from "gritty" people can help us reframe our adversity and lead to what she refers to as an "optimistic, resilient way." We can achieve this by focusing on the things we can change, the items in our life we do have control over, and that it's in our best interest to spend most of our time on those things as we continue to weather this storm. Because of, and despite this, young people need to be seen & valued for their efforts. To continue to show up and do their best on any given day.
As parents, we mustn't let our protective instincts rob our children of first-hand experiences of learning to navigate challenges for themselves. We all want to see them succeed, but as they search to find their footing in their pathways to success, it is essential to show them that setbacks and failure are part of that process, not an endpoint, but a necessary crossing on the road to achievement. If we don't let them see us fail or experience a failure themselves, in the safety of our presence, they may not have the stamina to overcome life's challenges when they are on their own and know that it's okay to ask for help and where to find it.
We have all experienced the hardship of the pandemic collectively, which has made it possible to acknowledge that we are all doing things hard everyday single day. This was true before COVID and will be true after Life is hard, but we can do hard things by being "gritty"!
Director of Counselling
Acknowledgements, further reading & resources:
Links to (non- Woodleigh) Webinars for Parents:
'Young people, alcohol and other drugs 2021: What do parents need to know?'
It will examine current drug trends amongst school-based young people, including vaping and the online sale of drugs via social media apps. The session aims to empower parents with a positive message and assist them in having open and honest family discussions in this complex area.
Thursday, 16 September at 7.00-8.30pm (AEST).
Further details and registration can be found at the following link: https://events.humanitix.com/young-people-alcohol-and-other-drugs-2021-what-do-parents-need-to-know?_ga=2.254673803.260490359.1627864130-467732293.1627864130
Dr Arne Rubinstein
Fathers Day workshop: A fun interactive evening that will guide you through activities and conversations for Father & Child (of any age!). The perfect way to honour the special relationship you share. Thursday 9 September: 7 - 8 pm EST $25 to attend. Please register through the link below.
Maggie Dent & Michelle Mitchell
Understanding Our Gorgeous, Confused Girls - an online masterclass about tween & teen girls
With Maggie Dent & Michelle Mitchell
Thursday 9 September, 8 pm EST
$35 to sign up to live event with access to repay & additional resources through the link below.
As we have recently transitioned into two worlds, one of online home learning and one of on-site school learning, one of our challenges is to build connection and continuity between these two contexts. Our continuous learning plan aims to be that bridge, and over it, we can offer many rich learning experiences that are equally sustaining and developmentally engaging for the children.
A fantastic opportunity does exist to deepen our partnerships with families as we virtually step into each other's homes. By creating a welcoming and inclusive online and on-site environment, all involved in teamwork, children, families, and teachers are given opportunities to engage in ongoing learning and development.
We have enjoyed revisiting our Unit of Inquiry, "Who We Are," as we learn more about the children's lives at home and support them in connecting, whether they are learning online or on-site.
Recently, Kirsty Liljegren, an educational consultant, permitted us to share her thoughts and responses. We hope you find them helpful.
"I have been having conversations with families who are anxious about what it means for children to be missing school. It is impactful in so many ways, and of course, is circumstantial—a few thoughts from me in the hope that it reassures and eases some of the angst.
- Life is learning-it doesn't start and stop as children walk through the centre or school gates. You are your child's first teacher, and you always will be.
- Ordinary everyday moments are full of potential. Learning is sparked and enabled through curiosity, wonder, imagination, creativity, and conversation.
- Play is the vehicle for learning-children learn through being active with body, hearts, and mind working in harmony.
- The outdoors is an enriching classroom.
- Reading together is a verbal cuddle at any age.
- The arts support expression, communication, and the generation of ideas.
- Small moments matter; whatever you can manage is ok, be kind to yourself."
(Kirsty Liljegren, 2021)
The move to online learning
Both three and four-year-old groups have had an excellent start to online learning activities. It has been encouraging to see the feedback from families as the children engage with the learning activities. The small group Zoom sessions have been a truly positive experience for many children. We are so encouraged to see many of our quieter children feel confident to share more with their friends in the comfort of their home environment. We all hope to return to our regular program soon and make the most of this different way of learning and its benefits.
We celebrated Book Week with a dress-up day and many literature-rich activities. We were pleased to see so many budding authors amongst the children, with children writing their books with the help of their families at home or the educators on-site.
Reading storybooks has been of particular interest to our three-year-old group as many children participate in the MS Readathon this month. We have set up a book exchange for all families in the ELG courtyard. Please feel free to take a book home to read and bring a book back to replace it. Once again, we applaud the children's effort with the read-a-thon and their developing love of literacy.
As we draw towards the end of Term 3, we will continue a concentrated effort on fine motor skill development. Developing muscles in the fingers, hands, and wrists is a pre-cursor for writing in later years. The children are involved in lots of playful experiences to strengthen these muscles all year round. The 3-year-old group has practiced finger rhymes to isolate different fingers, learn how to hold a pencil, and use scissors correctly. In the coming weeks, the four-year-old group will build on this and write letters to each other to encourage drawing/writing development and stay connected.
Heading into Term Four, we will be investigating "How We Express Ourselves." This unit of inquiry will look at aspects of spoken language, visual arts, written language, and body language. We look forward to the learning this will bring.
MEL, TRACY, CADI, SALLY, DEBORAH & LISA
Early Learning Teachers
We’d like to take the opportunity to thank you for your ongoing support that enables our students to maintain their wellbeing and continue their learning through this challenging lockdown period
We continue to remain positive and can’t wait to return to onsite learning. We’ve had so many conversations with parents over the last few weeks, and the stories are all too familiar, disengagement, tears, moments of feeling down. Generally, with some positive words and love, students get up and get going again. Stick in there, try to remain as consistent as possible, develop a routine and listen. We can see this as an excellent opportunity to discuss resilience and sticking through tough times. You’re not alone. Most of us are working through it. We are here for a chat if you need us.
If students struggle with tasks or miss Zoom meetings, we will continue to reach out and keep you up to date. These offers of support are our way of helping you to ensure we are supporting both you and your child. Please take this opportunity to discuss with us how we can best help you. We always welcome feedback, so please let us know if there is more we can do to help.
Thankfully, Spring has finally started to emerge, and there is a slight smell of optimism in the air. With Fathers Day today, for our group news, we’ve decided to put together some videos of your children acknowledging their admiration and love for you, all of the men in their lives. Your children may not know how much hard work and effort you put in to make their lives so wonderful, but some of the reflections that the children have put together are just beautiful. We are all sending you all warm greetings, and fingers are crossed for a return to school soon. Happy Father’s Day.
BRITT, DONNA, SALLY, HEATHER, CATH, SALLY, JULIA, OLIVIA, JENNY & GAYLE
The Prep, 1 & 2 Teachers
Unfortunately, the lockdown has been extended; however, the weather is starting to improve, and the smell of Spring is in the air, helping to lift spirits. We can tell that the children are very much missing one another’s company at school, and we find that often the kids just want to connect by chatting on Zoom. Those social connections are essential, as are good-quality shared activities that can be performed online and away from screens.
Recently, we have re-structured our approach to Explore Thursday activities so students can take part in the tasks with their teachers and each other in real-time via Zoom. Importantly, we have provided opportunities for students to share and view the work of their classmates. It has been lovely to hear the students enthusiastically share their learning and discoveries.
The Explore Thursdays activities provided for the students are designed to be hands-on and engaging. Twelve activities are offered to cater broadly for students’ interests. Although the task choices are optional, we expect the students to fit at least 3 of the activities into their Thursday, with the added expectation of uploading their work to Seesaw for teachers to view. Some students manage 5 or 6 activities in a day!
If you have any great ideas for our Explore Thursday activities, please let us know! Our latest Unit of Inquiry focuses on materials and their properties, so activities that link to the Unit would be especially welcome.
JUSTIN, HANNAH, GAYLE, SALLY, SARAH & CLAIRE
Years 3 & 4 Teachers
Another newsletter is in lockdown. We would like to thank you all for the support you are giving to your children and us. We are all looking forward to the holidays.
Sadly, we said ‘Goodbye to Ashton last week. Everyone will sorely miss her. Happily, though, she will be preparing for the birth of a baby girl. Ashton has been a massive asset to the Homestead team. We welcome Fran, who will be the Year 6 teacher for the remainder of the year. Everyone knows Fran and is very happy to welcome her to our team.
What an excellent way to take a rest from our screens and have a virtual campout. Friday allowed the students to complete many off-screen tasks at their leisure, including setting up their campsite for the evening. Our evening Homestead zoom, led by Pete, was a huge success. We played games and shared our campsites and the day’s tasks.
This week we finalised our unit on ‘Where We Are in Time and Place. We are very proud of our students for the way they completed their projects (the range of topics was terrific) online and then had to present online as well. It was fantastic to see the confidence they displayed during the sharing process. Each student completed a peer assessment on their classmates’ presentations and then a self-reflection on their process from beginning to end. It was related to how they have improved as learners using the learner profile attributes.
We are beginning our new unit of inquiry this week, titled ‘How We Organise Ourselves.’ The Central Idea is ‘Businesses function on the understanding of the marketplace’. We will be inquiring into how businesses work, what makes a successful business and the role of supply and demand. Many thanks to Adam Dargan for speaking to the students about his family business – Johnny Ripe Pies. The students found this incursion very interesting, and it gave them the chance to ask questions about our lines of inquiry.
The students presented their Book Reports in a Paper Bag this week. It was a great way to have the students read and recommend books for their classmates to read. I was inspired to read several of them.
To complement our unit, we will focus on persuasive writing in advertising and look at poetry and figurative language. Evaluating and analysing will be the thinking skills we concentrate on.
Many thanks to you all for the support you are giving your children. We appreciate it.
Take care and stay safe,
MICK, FRANNY, CHRIS & KATHERINE
Year 5 Teachers
MATHS - Decimals Fractions Percentages and Chance:
Using manipulatives and games is a great way to determine events and gather data. Fractions are parts of a whole and can be calculated as decimals and percentages.
In fractions, the denominator tells us how many parts there are all altogether.
The denominator will be the total number of balls AND
The numerator will be the number of balls there are of a specific colour.
We are learning about chance, fractions, decimals and percentage chance.
I can describe the chance of events using fractions.
We are all loving our latest Unit of Inquiry – ‘How We Express Ourselves’.
We read an article about Chalk Art that has been appearing in and around Melbourne. We found that the benefits had a very positive impact. When people saw the chalk art, it made them feel happy. “Chalk art keeps children entertained and sends a good message.” (Alannah)
An example of some excellent Chalk Art by Hugo.
Year 6 also had the opportunity to take a sneak peek into a Silversmith Studio. They investigated how a piece of jewellery (from around the house) might be made and what materials were used in its creation.
Some Year 6 students have been looking into poetry and its many different styles. We have started creating Slam Poetry pieces based on important issues such as climate change and lockdowns.
Slam Poetry is usually performed verbally. Students have practised reading and recording these pieces at home using rhythm and tempo to add emotion and emphasis.
Climate Change. Why aren’t we taking notice of Climate Change? We’re not taking action, which means we wonder what will happen to this strange phase that we can’t interchange. (Excerpt from Henry Brown’s SLAM Poem on climate change)
Events and Activities:
We continued with our homestead activities program on a Friday afternoon, and the Penbank campout was a big success. These are activities designed to get the students up and about for some off-screen fun!
Year 6 got together to celebrate Charlotte's birthday with a zoom.
MICHAEL BOURKE, MATTHEW CHAMBERS, SAMANTHA NUTT & LORRAINE FORD
Year 6 Teachers
We can't wait to share the awesomeness of CURIOUS with you all again! And to make it extra special, make sure you join our special pre-show Zoom meeting beforehand at 5:45pm!
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 919 5809 1354
Passcode: BsjxR1WATCH ON YOUTUBE