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School News

Click & Connect

This great initiative provides our children and families with support in developing positive learning relationships with technology. As I wrote to you last year, parenting in the 21st century is hard! For the first time, parents are having to navigate and learn how to support children to form healthy relationships with technology, and that can be challenging.

Our Click&Connect program is designed to help parents become Media Mentors rather than Media Police, who limit children and their technology use, or Media Enablers who leave their children to their own devices online. Todd Sampson, documentary maker, recently highlighted how our children’s brains are being re-wired due to children using devices with limited input from parents. While policing device usage can also be as harmful, it is suggested parents who are mentors to their children provide them with life-long strategies that will equip them with critical thinking skills and habits that ensure children know how to use their devices well. Parents who are mentors to their children online guide their children and enjoy spending quality time online with their child, just as parents enjoy spending quality time with their children reading, outdoors or engaging in craft activities, for example. The foundations of Click&Connect is to provide families with provocations and suggestions for how you can enjoy time together to develop new habits for enjoying and using technology well for learning and recreation!

Throughout our Click & Connect fortnight, our children have had Click&Connect tasks within their continuous learning. Devorah Heitner, author of Screenwise proposes that adults “Take an interest in what your kids do in their digital lives. Learn together with your kids. Play Minecraft with them or share photos on Instagram with them. Show them what you are doing online and ask them for advice about your Facebook posts or LinkedIn Profile. Your goal is not to become an expert in technology but to get a window into how your kids think about, and interact with, technology.”

We have provided some insights into how you might be able to positively interact as a family with technology by:

  • Asking your child to show you one thing they have created on their device in the past week
  • Sending a digital thank you to someone you care about
  • Take a photo walk around your neighbourhood documenting all that you notice

These are just an example of the many experiences we have asked our children to engage as part of Click&Connect fortnight.

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From the Principal – SAS News Issue 11

Dear St Andrew’s Community and Friends

The School Year has begun in a positive and interesting way! With children initially working both onsite and at home before students were able to fully return to School in the latter part of Term 1. Our teachers did a remarkable job offering both modes of learning.

In this edition of SAS News, I report on the new learning space, Tarrkarri, educating during COVID restrictions, our current Strategic Review, and our teaching staff undertaking an inquiry led by Kath Murdoch.

Our ‘Beyond Amazing’ Year 6 Space, Collaboratory & Playground

Our Year 6 children have so much to be excited about this year. The new classrooms, or studios, have proven to be a huge hit, with the children commenting on the world-class facility. “Beyond amazing” is the consensus among the children, while many positive comments are being made about the toilets – something which is a constant, but hidden concern for children at school. This modern learning space enables children to have greater autonomy over learning and to engage in many different types of learning modes. Mrs Moffat, Mrs Phillips and Mr Yang can see so many positive learning opportunities in these spaces and are looking forward to developing them across the year. The Innovation Hub and Robotics area (now called The Collaboratory) area has also been completed and is being utilised by several year levels.

The Collaboratory, Tarrkarri and its surrounding outdoor areas are filled with so many possibilities for learning, including the many intelligent materials within it. An example of this might be cardboard, either as a box or in flatform, that can become an infinite number of possibilities. Alongside intelligent materials, we also have technology that enables the children to go deeper with coding and robotics.

Our teachers are also enjoying the opportunity to spend time in this space to discuss and identify all the possibilities for learning that connect to their Units of Inquiry. For our younger children, initially our focus will be on how to use the space and the many tools within it. For our older children, they will learn through creative challenges linked to their Units of Inquiry.

Initially, the playground was used by classrooms individually so children can learn the expectations of how to use this space. It was then slowly opened up to recess and lunch play once we all had a good understanding of how we need to be together in this space. Exciting times continue to roll at St Andrew’s School!

A COVID Education

All children expressed joy at being back at School no matter what mode they were working in – and we all loved having them back at School. The School, both online and onsite is a very calm place for children and staff. It was then wonderful to be able to welcome all students back to the classroom in the latter part of Term 1.

It is timely to remember that for our children a ‘COVID education’ where they are switching from online to onsite learning, is becoming their norm. There is evidence across the School that children are coping particularly well. The model of bubbles also helped this calmness with children being intentionally supported by their teachers both at recess and lunch, while children at home engaged with their class friends through the programs on offer. I want to thank our teachers for the effort this took, and their flexibility in ensuring a high-quality education is offered to their students.

Strategic Review

To assist us maintain our commitment to school improvement in 2022, we have developed ‘Focus 2022’. This document links to our Strategic Plan and provides our community with insights into how we are putting our plan into action. While all areas of our School are important, we do have two major focuses for 2022. These are:

1. St Andrew’s students are actively engaged in state-of-the-art learning opportunities that take them beyond knowledge and into understanding. 

We are developing the structure of School and what this means for living with COVID-19 while ensuring the highest learning outcomes possible for our children. This involves returning to the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program with a new lens and strengthening our practices to implement the program at a higher level. We are highlighting the Attitudes to Learning and how we can better support children to learn to self-manage their learning well. Examining our structures such as how we use our time, staff, environment and groupings of children and staff are part of how we are evolving our School. This is helping us to maintain high learning outcomes for children while providing a safe health and hygiene space in which we can all learn. This, in turn, involves increasing our focus on our pedagogy, or how we teach and facilitate children’s learning. A key element of this work is our collaboration with Kath Murdoch, a world leader in inquiry learning (which I will elaborate on below). Kath will provide support to our staff as we evolve and develop our thinking and practices about learning in a COVID-19 world.

2. Providing a world of opportunity in a School that is optimal size to know and care for the individual.

As we near the end of the 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, it is timely that we review our School and consider future directions. To do this comprehensively we are engaging in a six-month review of all elements of our School. Our intention is to engage all members of our School community, from the St Andrew’s Church Parish, to parents, Old Scholars, teachers, non-teaching staff and children to have their say about the future of our School. Ms Deidre Fischer, who is based in Adelaide, brings a world of knowledge to us due to her international education experiences. Ms Fischer will be reviewing our School using International Education Benchmarks which include:

  • School purpose and direction
  • Governance and leadership
  • The planned and written curriculum
  • The taught and assessed curriculum
  • Safety and wellbeing
  • Human resources
  • Facilities and property
  • School-home partnerships

Ms Fischer will present her report to the Board in July which will then be used to inform our Strategic Plan for the coming years. It is an exciting time to be part of our School as we continue to evolve and shape our future to suit our time and context.

Inquiry Practices

Kath Murdoch suggests there are ten essential practices to inquiry teaching. These practices are both for children and teachers, however, our focus for the moment, is on how we as teachers use these when teaching children. We have been introduced to four practices and teachers are selecting a focus for the coming months. Three of these practices are explained below:

Cultivating Curiosity

Cultivating Curiosity where inquiry teachers intentionally provoke, model and value curiosity. Susan Engel, a key researcher in curiosity states, “Curiosity is a powerful elixir for learning … as children age their curiosity requires more nurturing, it’s clear teachers should pay more attention to helping students acquire or retain a thirst to find out about the world.” Our staff are beginning to explore how we can intentionally cultivate curiosity.

It is important for curiosity to flourish as we know when we are deeply interested in something, we are committed to learning. It helps the learning “stick” and enables us to transfer our learnings more readily. It helps us to explore complex concepts that we may believe are beyond us, yet our interest, awe and wonder motivates us to continue. To be curious requires us to notice the world around us. In this example, our teachers are encouraging ‘noticing’ by asking children to stop, slow down and reflect carefully assisting curiosity to flourish.

Notice

Notice is when teachers intentionally observe, notice, reflect and respond. Teachers take time to stop and notice what is happening versus what they would like to see happening. Teachers may do this by using thinking routines and providing learning engagements where children have to talk and find ways to show their thinking. Ritchart and Church, eminent Harvard Education Professors state: “The teacher’s goal is to understand student thinking, to get inside their heads and make their thinking visible. Thus, we teach the paradigm of teaching from trying to transmit what is in our heads (I.e., the teacher’s head) to our students to trying to get what is in our students’ heads into our own!” Our staff are already finding ways to stop and reflect on what is inside our children’s heads through looking at the concept of perspective and asking children what do they see, think and wonder about images around perspective.

Growing Learning Assets

Growing Learning Assets within an IB PYP education are the approaches to learning, thinking skills, research skills, social skills, self-management skills and communication skills together with the ten attributes of the learner profile – courageous, inquirers, thinkers, communicators, knowledgeable, principled, open-minded, balanced, reflective and caring. They are soft skills which are essential for a future-focused workplace. These skills and dispositions enable life-long learning and transcend learning disciplines. They are a way for our specialist teachers to link closely to the classroom teachers learning program.

Guy Claxton, a cognitive scientist explains learning in classrooms using a river metaphor. Claxton describes the surface of the river as the learning content and disciplines. That it is easy to see and includes English, Maths, the Humanities and Sciences. These easily flow by as the current of the river is strong. If we go a little deeper into the river, we see the skills children use to be successful. However, as we reach the bottom of the river, it is difficult to see, it is murky, and the current is not as strong. It is hard to see and hidden from the view from the top of the river. This is where the approaches to learning and the attributes of the Learner Profile sit. Teachers need to have a strong focus to ensure they are intentionally teaching these dispositions and attitudes.

To grow learning assets in our classrooms, teachers are intentional in their use and conscious when planning. They provide just as much focus to learning assets as they do to teaching content. One way our teachers are exploring this is through using a split screen strategy, where children are provided with a learning intention for both content and a learning disposition. Teachers use these split screens as a reflection point. They might stop mid-lesson and ask children for feedback on the focus learning asset. These are recorded so the class slowly builds up what the learning dispositions look like over time.

 

Thank you for your ongoing interest in and support of our School. I look forward to connecting with you again soon.

Warm wishes

 

Jackie Becher

Principal

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From the Principal

Dear St Andrew’s Community and Friends

It is hard to believe that we are at the end of the 2021 school year. 2021 has been a year filled with joy, wonder and awe, with every child having developed and progressed in their own way. In this edition of St Andrew’s News, we take a look at some of the highlights of Term 4 and start to look to an exciting 2022 for St Andrew’s School.

Commitment to Children’s Learning

You can see our teachers’ commitment to children and building their skills every day. In Term 4 we saw the outcomes of our teachers’ commitment through:

  • Our children competing in the National Tournament of the Minds competition.
  • The Year 6 and 7 children’s personal project evening where children were so capable of not only demonstrating their learning but answering complex questions.
  • Italian Day for our youngest children.
  • Welcome to House for new Reception children.

This year our staff have also added new initiatives to our program to extend children’s learning opportunities. This has included preparing for the much-loved Bike Hike with cycling lessons, and the inaugural Out and About Week which took our Year 6 students all around Adelaide for a week of action-packed adventure!

Our focus on and commitment to children’s learning will continue into 2022, with many exciting projects planned for the children.

World Teachers’ Day

29 October was World Teachers’ Day, and to help us celebrate the St Andrew’s Parents’ Association hosted a (COVID-friendly) morning tea for the staff to say thank you for their commitment to the children. The teachers at St Andrew’s are passionate learners who are keen to explore how children learn effectively, and how they can improve their teaching practice. It is a gift to have such a dedicated staff who are curious about learning and wish to extend their own learning.

Year 5 Primary Years Program Exhibition

In early November many of us were fortunate enough to attend the Year 5 PYP Exhibition. The Exhibition is the children’s opportunity to develop their own unit of inquiry around a concept. This year, we asked the children to explore empathy. The children’s responses to this were extraordinary, and their ability to see others’ perspectives and think critically has developed in an extremely sophisticated way. Many children took a large concept, like poverty, and then thought very carefully about how children at our School could take action in this space.

Excitement for 2022

Our new building will be open for use in January, with the Year 6 class of 2022 being the first children to use this space. The children will have two studios – one for each class. However, the beauty of these spaces is the flexibility they offer. The two studios can easily be converted to one large space enabling cooperative learning to occur easily across the year levels. There is also open space on the first floor where the classrooms are located which will further provide opportunities for children to work flexibly. This addition to our School further enhances the quality learning we have on offer.

On the first floor we also have a space dedicated to learning technologies. Robotics and coding will be a focus in this space. Furniture has been selected that is adaptable ensuring even our youngest child in ELC has the opportunity to use and engage in learning. Below this space will be the innovation hub which will allow children to not only design but make solutions to problems. This will enable children to evaluate and explore the properties of materials, while also encouraging persistence and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with working on a project for a lengthy period of time and facing and overcoming obstacles. With children growing up in a world surrounded by instant gratification, this will be an important aspect of the program along with the creative and critical thinking that will occur.

 

Thank you for your ongoing interest in and support of our School. I look forward to connecting with you again soon.

Warm wishes

 

Jackie Becher

Principal

 

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Celebrating Success and connecting with Technology

As we approach the end of Term 3 at St Andrew’s School we reflect on some of our achievements. Our participation in sports and competitions that exercise the mind help our students to problem solve and to work as a team. We also take an in-depth look into our relationship with technology at school and at home with our inaugural Click&Connect Week.

Celebrating success

Sport
We always continue to share many successes in our School. For the first time, the School has begun competing in table tennis, with both of our teams performing extremely well. In fact, the teams won all of their matches very convincingly. We are so proud of our table tennis teams in this new interschool competition. We have also had success on the netball court and football field. This year success in interschool sport has been an absolute highlight.

Tournament of Minds
St Andrew’s students from Years 4-7 participated in the South Australian Tournament of Minds Final at Flinders University, Tonsley Campus in Week 8. Tournament of Minds is an international competition for Primary and Secondary aged students that requires problem solving and team work. The two St Andrew’s teams have spent six weeks forming a solution to a real-life challenge that they presented on the weekend as a 10-minute dramatic presentation.

In addition to these prepared solutions, the students were called on to solve a ‘spontaneous’ challenge, requiring quick thinking, collaboration and creativity. Both teams will now compete at a virtual international final on 16 October.

Mind Lab
I also wish to congratulate our Mind Lab teams. We entered two teams this year into the Mind Lab competition and we placed both first and second in the competition. That is, our first team took first prize, and our second team, our future, took second prize. In different times our teams would find themselves jetting off to Europe in the upcoming holidays, however, that does not take the shine off their success as Australasian champions.

Click&Connect Week

As we approached the end of Term Three, a term which we began by connecting online rather than face-to-face, we spent a week exploring the relationships we have with technology in our School and in our homes.

In Week 8, 6-10 September, we explored this topic in detail, with the inaugural St Andrew’s Click&Connect Week. Click&Connect Week is a pilot education initiative designed to help parents develop a positive relationship with their children around digital technologies. It provides prompts to celebrate positive uses of technology, explore creative pursuits, and encourages us to take time for important conversations about how we best use our devices.

Andrew Przybylski, Professor of Psychology from Oxford University, engages in research that explores how people interact with the virtual world. Professor Przybylski problematises the term ‘screen time’, something we all refer to, and questions why we don’t have ‘book time’ or ‘food time’. He suggests that the term ‘screen time’ is a negative in our world and works to romanticise and create the analogue world as wholesome, good and helpful. In creating analogue and digital as opposites when the analogue world is something many adults feel more comfortable with, the digital world is therefore seen as inherently bad, distracting, unhealthy and of little use. This seems to be amplified in childhood where screen time has been seen to cause both physical and mental harm to children, with very little discussion of the benefits the digital world can bring when families focus on their relationship with technology.

We can though, choose to engage in positive relationships with technology. For adults this means carefully considering and choosing how we wish to be with our children and technology. Alexandra Samuel has grouped parenting styles around technology into three areas. This can be useful in helping us think about the relationships we wish to have with technology and our children. Samuel’s classifications are:

  1. Digital Limiters. Digital limiters are parents who prefer to keep their children offline for as long as possible, or strictly limit screen time. It is interesting to note that in Samuel’s research she found most parents of pre-school children form this relationship with technology in their household but it rarely lasts. The children of digital limiters are known as digital exiles due to limits around their technology use.
  2. Digital Enablers. Parents who are digital enablers respect their child’s choices online and take their cues from how other families use technology. As this is such a new space for everyone it is little wonder that many parents share and develop their parenting style, and therefore their family’s relationship with technology, from other parents. However, children of digital enablers often tend to become digital orphans as they explore the online world with limited parent guidance.
  3. Digital Mentors. This parenting style falls somewhere in between. Digital mentor parents enjoy spending time with their children online. They model the notion of curiosity with their child and foster online learning, growing their child’s digital skills. Children of digital mentors become digital heirs as they inherit their parents’ curiosity and engagement behaviours.

As with all categorisations, it is rare that one person will fit neatly into one category; we probably all exhibit aspects of each parenting style.

Technology is a key learning tool, and its importance as a vehicle for learning will only continue to grow. We also strive for our children to understand what it means to be a good person, and this means having a moral compass in the virtual world. With this in mind, as a school we would like to create with our children a culture of digital mentorship, rather than censoring or policing how they engage with technology. Policing children, or not discussing difficult topics around technology with them, usually makes them more curious about what goes on in the darker realms of the virtual world. We know children are going to come across things online that are troubling, and by having open and positive relationships with our children, this enables us to have conversations with them when things go wrong. If we are also using technology with our children, they also watch and hear what we do when we encounter problems – and often this is where the greatest learning occurs.

For a school committed to cultivating curiosity, inquisitive mindsets and an entrepreneurial approach, we are committing to providing more support to our families by encouraging parents to feel confident with parenting and technology – Click&Connect Week is just one way we are providing this support.

Thank you for your ongoing interest in and support of our School. I look forward to connecting with you again soon.

Warm wishes

Jackie Becher
Principal

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The life-changing power of self-belief

Self-belief allows you to believe in your ability, consider yourself capable of success and, importantly, achieve your goals.

Like the children at St Andrew’s School, I had the honour of attending an independent school. To this day I stand in awe of my own teachers’ passions about their profession and the way they invested in all children within the school, not just their own classrooms.

My teachers’ passion was contagious, and with their support, encouragement and outstanding teaching, I grew and thrived in my school environment.  Not being overly mathematically inclined, I found I was provided with extra support when things challenged me beyond my ability to understand concepts, and I began to not only understand mathematics but even grew to enjoy it. This encouragement and support from my passionate teachers in turn grew my own self-belief.

I had been provided with experiences and opportunities to enable me to understand that self-belief also includes having a positive attitude, an enquiring mind and a healthy dose of persistence and dedication.

While my personal ‘eureka’ moment was many years ago, the self-belief it delivered has been a constant companion, to this day feeding my tenacity, igniting my curiosity, exposing me to new ideas and concepts and helping to shape who I am today.

Self-belief is also central to the St Andrew’s School ethos, where a passionate teaching and support team is committed to each and every child, cares for them deeply and has been known, on numerous occasions, to sacrifice a lot for them.

We want every child to believe in themselves, to feel valued, to have their achievements shared and celebrated, to enjoy the fruits of open, curious and questioning minds, and to be successful in their own right.

We also encourage a community spirit, where we all feel a strong sense of belonging and will happily play our part and contribute to the school community. A couple of recent examples are the regular St Andrew’s community podcasts and students coming forward with great design ideas for our new treehouse and playground.

Please click link below for Year 4 Weekly Podcasts
https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/year-4-weekly/id1476781023

It’s particularly humbling when we see our children take this spirit into the outside world and become true, valued and selfless global citizens – and even more so when they never forget and remain proud of their school.

Self-belief plays a huge role!

 

Jackie Becher

Principal

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Belonging is key to global citizenship

Harmony Day

St Andrew’s students wearing ‘a touch of orange’ to celebrate Harmony Week

Harmony Week’s theme of Everyone Belongs has been key to St Andrew’s success for 171 years. Belonging is a key value of our school and we have many ways of ensuring everyone is welcome here.

In the 21st century belonging is key to global citizenship and we continue to develop and evolve how we create an inclusive, harmonious community at our school. We use strategies both to include our community as well as highlighting the dispositions need to be welcoming to others.

This year for Harmony Week we are choosing to embrace the theme two ways. One, with a focus on the attitudes children require to enable everyone to belong, and two, the St Andrew’s Local Hero Awards, which will stretch across the year.

The Local Hero Awards are an opportunity for our children to vote for the peers in their class who always make others feel like they belong. Children have thought about and researched what helps make us feel like we belong. The data has then been used to create criteria and children are now voting for their St Andrew’s Local Hero! These children will be celebrated and held up as role models to other children.

Across the year we are working hard with our school community to celebrate diversity. We know that as global citizens we need great emotional and social intelligence, whilst also having an open mind and curiosity about our multicultural society. With that in mind, we are working with our families from diverse cultural backgrounds to expose children to a range of beliefs and values. We are finding through this work that children are making connections and discussing similarities and differences.

This work heightens and strengthens our commitment to idea of international mindedness that is key to the success of our International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme. Ensuring our children have the skills, knowledge and ability to consider many different perspectives ensures we are creating global citizens who will be committed to the assertion that “everyone belongs”.

Jackie Becher

Principal

 

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My reflections on the decade past

Deb Dalwood with students

 

With all its COVID-influenced changes to what we previously considered ‘normal’, I was thinking the other day that 2020 feels more like a decade than a year!

And that got me thinking a little deeper, delving into my memory bank to recall 10 reflections on the decade just past.

In no particular order, let’s start with character. Over the past 10 years, character and who you are as a person have become far more important than test scores. We now fully appreciate that keys to success lie in the likes of resilience, getting along, having a growth mindset and being confident.

We also celebrate mistakes. They are good, we learn from them and they build resilience to try…and try again.

Secondly, I have witnessed significant growth in wellbeing, social and emotional education. It manifests itself in our behaviour, where empathy is no longer in short supply. We feel for one another and the community in general. We also have the courage to take a stand and speak out when confronted by issues and developments we deem unsavoury, inappropriate or downright offensive.

Students, too, have a greater voice in their learning, sharing their goals with teachers, enjoying more control of their lives and generally feeling good about their futures, which brings us to the third reflection…

The rise in the use of data to inform teaching. It stands to reason that the more we know about a student, the better equipped we are to understand their journey – and that is when we can play the greatest possible role in making it a success.

Perhaps the fourth reflection is a result of this as today’s generation places far more importance on its endeavours to look after Mother Earth and ensure the sustainability of our fragile planet.

They are acutely aware of their impact in this regard, they exhibit a passion to protect and gently nurture our environment and they are determined to leave future generations with a better place to call home.

Moving on to number five, one of the great joys has been seeing students coming to realise why certain subjects are part of the curriculum. They understand the purpose of the lesson and experience more of those thrilling ‘aha’ moments when suddenly they get the WHY! They appreciate what it all means, they apply their minds to solve problems and reach solutions that will make our world just that bit better.

No reflection could exclude communication. Information is everywhere and channels of communicating and sharing it abound.

Deb Dalwood
Principal

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  • St Andrew’s School is a South Australian independent, co-educational specialist primary school providing excellence in education from playgroup through to early years and on to Year 7. Principal Jackie Becher – an International Baccalaureate School – UNESCO Associated School.