Next week we have our Primary students leaving for camp. Our 5th and 6th Class will be visiting the goldfields in Bathurst via a stop in the Blue Mountains. 3rd and 4th Class are travelling to Milson Island on the Hawkesbury River. Both these trips are wonderful opportunities for our students to spread their wings, learn some new skills and get to know their teachers, friends and perhaps even themselves a little better.
This is always a special trip for 3rd Class as it is often the first time they have been away from Mum or Dad for an extended period. It is as much a practical lesson in resilience as it is an exploration of the various activities they will undertake. It is natural to be nervous without the comfort of knowing your family is nearby, yet personally affirming when they can persevere, trust in themselves and show greater self-sufficiency.
We wish our students a productive and enriching trip and their parents some added relaxation time in the knowledge that they are in good hands.
Having the pleasure of Gladys Berejiklian, the NSW Premier, visit John Colet School this week was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate literature and the Premiers Reading Challenge. She answered questions on her favourite books and the children had an opportunity to mention theirs, including one student in Lower First naming The Merchant of Venice!
Our students also asked a range of questions regarding service to the community, her rise to her current role and the leadership skills required. It was well timed with our current focus on resilience as there were great examples of the importance of keeping to your values, listening to others and not giving up in the face of challenges. It’s virtually impossible to hold both positive and negative thoughts at the same time. Therefore, by keeping optimistic and your mind positive you can interpret any difficult event as a challenge to be overcome as opposed to it being an insurmountable problem. As a female leader who governs over seven million people it was especially a strong and practical example for our girls on what is possible.
As we continue to explore our Value of Courage this term we are now beginning to look specifically on how we respond to change and difficulties that we experience. Life is a process and nothing stays the same for too long, having the tools and strategies at an early age fosters a growth mindset where obstacles become opportunities in determining our own path.
Mistakes are lessons to be learned from and we should ensure an environment of trust. Being resilient is about being in the present and appreciating what we have control over, yet also being committed to our beliefs and goals. Also, resilience can often be seen more as a set of behaviours or habits that need to be practiced rather than some innate characteristic. Acting with resilience is about putting yourself on the surfboard rather than being washed away by the wave.
It’s not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change - Charles Darwin
Science Week begins at John Colet School on Monday with a visit from Fizzics Education. This group have been regular visitors to our school and provide engaging activities for the children to fuel their interest in the scientific process. Science is such a powerful subject for children to engage with as it transcends the usual subject boundaries, requiring a combination of skills, knowledge and understanding of how the world works. It is also founded on a constant search for facts and can only really progress through sharing knowledge and collective effort over time.
As well as in-class science activities we will be holding some general competitions during play times.
Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science. - Edwin Powell Hubble
It has been wonderful welcoming our students back this week and learning of their adventures and travels. We were very pleased to be able to re-open our main entrance for the start of Term and we are very excited to be using our new reception from this coming Wednesday. The new classrooms will begin to be occupied during the coming month, with an official opening to follow soon after.
I had the opportunity during the break to attend a Heads of School conference which was held for schools with a similar foundation, education and ethos to John Colet School. Schools from Australia, Ireland, England, Trinidad, South Africa and New Zealand were in attendance. While the schools varied widely in structure there was a common thread throughout that reaffirmed the uniqueness of our program and the education we provide our children. It was also an ideal occasion to share best practice and ways in which our schools can continue to develop.
As you will see in our newsletter this week we have some grandparents who are interested in forming a team to enhance our native play area. This is a great opportunity for the ‘wise’ members of the community and a wonderful example for our students of service at our school. We are fortunate to have such a supportive community and this has been very evident this week with the preparation, catering and clean up during our Infants Shakespeare Festival, a parent science presentation in 2nd Class, and also our recent success in chess, which would not have been possible without the help of parents. Our P&F are now building up to our Gala Dinner, which is in support of developing solar panels at school. I do encourage you to lend your support to this worthwhile event and cause.
We hope you have an enjoyable break with your family and look forward to welcoming you back on the 25th of July.
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.