Next week we will be holding our annual Infants Shakespeare Festival. These performances are a highlight within our calendar and are truly remarkable, particularly considering the age of our Lower First, that some of our students are learning English as a second language and also that some of our children are quite reserved. During rehearsals it has been wonderful to witness their confidence and passion.
The performances next week are a true example of the use of high levels of concentration, attention and focus. The plays encourage the commitment to the wider cast, empathy for the characters and a deeper appreciation of history and language. An education involving a strong Arts component promotes self-knowledge and empowers children to look beyond their comfort zone. These are powerful experiences that will be with them for many years to come.
Our practice of Mindfulness and of pausing throughout the day allows the children to focus, become still and centre themselves within the present. They practice letting go of thoughts and emotions tied up with the past while also releasing considerations or judgements of the future. It is a central part of our school. Apart from our regular pausing between subjects we also allow for a whole school pause at 10:55 each day. One of our Infants teachers asked her class this week what the group pause meant to them. One child thought about how all the adults were serving the children at this time, some thought about all the children who had been at our school in the past. They also discussed that just being still and quiet was an option too. Asking your child when they find pausing useful is a good opportunity to look at how it can be of benefit outside school too.
Media and the news have changed considerably since I was a child. It used to be the newspapers and 4 channels on the television. There was just one TV in our house, which actually ended up being one channel (the ABC, my parent’s favourite) as you had to physically get up and change the station! As we continue to look at Truthfulness this Term and particularly gossip at the moment, it may be a good opportunity to discuss with your children where they get their facts from and how they know they are indeed facts. This can lead to some very enlightening discussions!
Everyone likes sharing stories and news with their friends, however it can become personal and also evolve through miss-communication to snowball out of proportion. At school we continue to encourage the children to pause and think; Is it true? Is it beneficial to all?
The problem with facts found on the internet is that they are often untrue – Abraham Lincoln
Thank you to our entire school community for a wonderful Open Day. It was a magnificent example of the practical application of our school values through the actions of all involved.
Our exploration of the practice of Truthfulness continues this term. We are now looking specifically at how we can be personally active in determining what is fact from fiction and ensuring that what we chose to share with others is beneficial for all. When we pass information on we are effectively saying it is true and therefore we need to pause and determine if this is in fact the case. Also, when sharing information we need to be aware of the impact of what we are saying, not just on the person we are sharing with, but also on the wider community.
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth– Marcus Aurelius
Thank you to those parents and students who were able to assist in our Working Bee last Sunday. There was some general touch ups, maintenance and cleaning along with some much needed gardening and fuel reduction. The school is looking in great shape for our Open Day this weekend.
Our Open Day is an opportunity to celebrate what makes this school truly special with our families and friends. It is also wonderful to welcome visitors from our wider community, invite back past students and allow our current students to perform and enjoy the fun activities of the day.
A special thanks to our Parents and Friends group for all the work behind the scenes that they have done to make this possible.
As a school we have been focussing on the value and practice of Truthfulness. More specifically we have been exploring being honest with our friends, teachers and parents. This may be owning up to poor behaviour or an unwise decision or perhaps just that we do not know something. The first step in this process is exploring with the children the concept of self-knowledge. Considering our true motivations, acting with honesty and reflecting on our actions to gain understanding of self is a lifelong process. To encourage and enable this to happen children have to be in an environment of care and trust.
It is more difficult than ever these days to ensure that children are in a safe and caring environment. While our school promotes limited use of IT and discourages social media use for the age of our students many still find opportunities to explore. The online environment is changing constantly and it is extremely difficult to keep up. If you have not signed up for the cyber safety talk on the 1st of June, I highly recommend doing so.
Spaces are limited and please be aware that this is an adult only presentation and children will not be permitted entrance.
John Colet School is well known for the attention and focus that our children give to their work in class. Our practice of pausing, mindfulness and studies of philosophy are some of the elements that give our children the skills to be able to fall still and concentrate on the task they have at hand in the classroom.
Children also need opportunities to play constructively in a non-guided environment. While our children are supervised at all times it is important for them to have the space to engage with their peers in imaginative and social play. This can often be seen during break times with students outside classes in small groups, on play equipment, on our field, or in the nature reserve.
The nature reserve has been a particular popular spot of late and it has been wonderful to see the creativity of the children in action. While we continue working on ensuring that students are treating the area with respect, on the whole it has been a very positive inclusion to ensuring a breadth of experiences for our students.
It has been a wonderful start to Term 2 this week. There have been so many exciting tales from both parents and students of their adventures over the holidays. Last Term our focus was the Value of Respect and while we continue to ensure this Value is present in all our actions we will turn our attention now to Truth. Every few weeks we will explore a different practical element within this value, all of which are contained in simple questions outlined within our Vision, Mission and Values Statement. Speak the Truth: Practice: Truthfulness
Today we had our ANZAC commemoration at John Colet School. A special thank you to our guest speaker this year, Mr Bob Lunnan. This was a good opportunity for our students to appreciate the sacrifice that has been made and continues to be made for our community. The children were able to pay their respects to all people who have made a sacrifice. In the words from Kemal Ataturk’s Tribute: “There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side in this country of ours”. It is an occasion for people to unify towards peace for all.
Thank you to our school community for all your support and making this first Term such a success. We hope you have an enjoyable break with your family and look forward to welcoming you back on the 26th of April.
I am often in awe of how children can take quite complex ideas and concepts and explain them in practical ways or put them into simple actions. We had a few wonderful examples this week as we continue with the focus on our Value of Respect, particularly at present on how we widen our circle of happiness. The idea being that the pursuit of individual happiness is ultimately hollow and is only realised through bringing happiness to others and the wider world.
We introduced this idea at our assembly this week and we had one brave young boy in Year 3 who stood up and gave the following explanation; ‘Happiness isn’t something you can keep, you can’t hold it, you have to give it away if you want it to last longer’. I also had one of our Year 3 girls who visited my office during the week to tell me she had built a rubbish trap from seaweed whilst at the beach to help the environment so that both people and sea life can be happier. All of our students have the task of bringing happiness to others over the remainder of the term. They may not notice that they are doing it, so if you do see it in action do let them know.
We would like to offer our thanks to the school community for your patience, understanding and support during this period of building works at John Colet School. The construction of our two new classrooms is moving along steadily and we are beginning to see some real progress. Due to changes in access we have also incorporated some upgrades to pathways and repairing of our grass areas. It was wonderful to see some of our students discussing the process of construction and even some of the maths involved during their break time this week.
We have had a great deal of rain over the past few weeks which has unfortunately resulted in cancellation of our inter school sports events as well as the postponement of our Walkathon to 31st March. We have also experienced flooding within our uniform store. The good news is that we have not incurred any damage to our stock and we have identified an alternate venue while we seek a permanent solution. An email will be shared early next week once we are all set up, with directions and opening times for the store as well as information for parents if they wish to order by email for student collection.
The way I see it, is that if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain – Dolly Parton
The teaching of philosophy is a cornerstone of our program at John Colet School. The exploration of which is directly beneficial towards the traditional ‘core’ subjects such as English, Science and Maths as well as our concept of our place in the world. The term ‘Philosophy’ translates to a love of wisdom and as we tackle the ‘bigger picture’ it allows us to place our other subjects within the standard curriculum into context.
As an example of this one of our 4th class teachers, Mrs Kearney, was recently interviewed with regards to a philosophy program she had developed. This program on human potential involves exploring what is possible, the limits we put on ourselves and how we make use of our talents for the benefit of all. Our potential is impossible to develop on our own and as such requires a collective aspiration towards improvement. This is relevant to our current focus on the Value of Respect and ensuring our actions are to the advantage of all.
Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings – Salvador Dali
You may have seen an article in today’s Manly Daily regarding John Colet School leading the peninsula in NAPLAN results. We are always proud of the outstanding achievements of our students. However, it is important to note that this is just one test and that it is an indicator of attainment rather than progress. We are not a selective school and with a growing population I do expect that this ‘ranking’ may change from year to year.
Our focus remains on the growth and progress for each individual child, starting with character and an ethos of being our very best self. The academics stem from this foundation which our students will take with them into the wider world. As the article points out our strength is a result of our unique program yet is ultimately a product of our passionate and dedicated teachers who focus on the progress of each individual.
Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory – Mahatma Gandhi
Our work on Respect, particularly on how our actions can benefit all and are a good example to all, has been explored through the theme of sportsmanship this week. It is a particularly good time to study this area as we have many new students at play during our breaks, our school sport competitions have begun and we also had our swimming carnival this week. We discussed during assembly this week what it means to be ‘a good sport’ and how positive encouragement, being humble and giving thanks adds to the experience of competition. We look for action as a practical application of the development of our Values. Our sport teachers are aware of this focus and they have been highlighting this within their program. Likewise our staff, throughout the school, are on the lookout for evidence to celebrate both inside the classroom and at break times. I hope that if you attended our swimming carnival this week that you saw this in action yourself. Great camaraderie and pride within the Houses, combined with support for other swimmers whether they came first or just did their best.
‘One man practicing sportsmanship is better than a hundred teaching it’ - Knute Rockne
It was gratifying to hear this week of changes to the HSC involving a focus on deeper learning and a focus on core areas in language such as grammar and writing, an area also under review in the Primary system. Unfortunately, these changes tend to come and go depending on new research, government change or popular belief. There is certainly a need to keep up to date and be responsive to the shifting needs of children, however the fruits of such fluctuations are often not seen for many years. It is difficult for schools where such swings in pedagogy require new curriculum, resources and training for teachers on a regular basis.
We are fortunate at John Colet School that we have retained the very best practices and materials for over thirty years. Our continued focus on attention, phonics, grammar, and mathematical understanding has resulted in our teachers refining our curriculum and their skills over time. This consistency is directly related to the learning and progress of our students.
Shakespeare is also back in the HSC which is great to hear. If you missed the story in the news I have included a link here