Second Excellence in Education Conference

education imageRegistrations are now open for Guildford Grammar School’s second Excellence in Classroom Teaching Conference, for primary and secondary school teachers in Perth. Last year’s conference was a great success, attended by over 100 primary and secondary school teachers from across the state.

Perth teachers are often frustrated by the lack of opportunities to enjoy quality professional development focusing on sound classroom practice which they can use immediately with their own students.

To fill this gap, our conference presents a wide range of relevant workshops, sharing strategies and resources that can be taken back and used immediately in your classroom.  Each delegate will have the opportunity to participate in four workshops of their choice.  Popular sessions will be held twice to ensure as many delegates as possible are able to attend the workshops of their choice.

Some of this year’s workshops include:

  • Reading intervention with a twist
  • Engaging boys in the classroom
  • Catering for difference
  • Early Childhood – learning through play
  • Service Learning
  • The importance of being little
  • Making fiction fun
  • Integrating drama into the classroom
  • Teaching kids to touch type
  • Puzzling about puzzle-based learning
  • How to take a good photograph
  • Teaching technology to primary and secondary students
  • Assessing prior learning
  • Extending capable science students under the Australian Curriculum
  • Small Business Project
  • Building a great primary science program
  • and many more!

The conference costs $150 per qualified teacher and $100 for trainee teachers and includes morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and networking drinks and nibbles at the conclusion of the day.

The full program is available by clicking here.  Please read through the workshops on offer before proceeding to our payment and registration page.

Anyone unable to pay online using a credit card can contact our Finance Office on (08) 9377 9203 to make alternative arrangements.

For further information, please contact Mrs Gillian MacDonald on (08) 9377 9200 or emailcommunications@ggs.wa.edu.au.

Warm Fuzzies

LeadershipTeam-7Why is it that we say the nicest most heartfelt things about other people when they;

*  Leave their job
*  Are not within hearing range
*  Pass away

Whether out of embarrassment or social mores we do not stop often enough and say to the people we work with, socialise with or live with just how much they mean to us and why.

I was reminded of this again this week as our amazing Miss Vance handed out “Warm Fuzzy” cards to all members of staff in the Prep School. The concept is simple. Write a fellow staff member’s name on the front of the card and on the back write something wonderful that person has said or done that makes them special. A Warm Fuzzy! Letting people know that they make a significant positive difference in the lives of others is just too important to not do.  In our busy, hectic lives there are times when we need to stop and tell other people what we value in them.

“I love it when you…”
“It was so amazing when you…”
“You made such a difference when you…”

Can we do this? Can we offer our thoughts and praise without expecting anything in return? Can we find the space in our day, week, month to communicate to others a ‘Warm Fuzzy’, some thoughtful positive feedback or a kind word?

One of my favourite writers is David Brooks. As a columnist for the NY Times and as an author of several books, David consistently “hits the mark” on where we get so caught up about life that we often forget about the important things in life. His theory on eulogy virtues versus résumé virtues is such an example. Too often we praise and report on virtues that we think make a real difference in ‘making a life’. Captain of this, Head of this, top 5% of this this, first place in this. We applaud their accomplishments and put great validity and credence to them. But are they what really matter in “living a life”?

Please take a moment to read David’s piece below, and ask yourself, do we do enough to praise eulogy virtues over résumé virtues? And while you are considering that can you also please help me to come up with a less morose phrase than eulogy virtues?

Enjoy!

Eulogy Versus Resume Virtues by David Brooks

About once a month I run across a person who radiates an inner light. These people can be in any walk of life. They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. You often catch them looking after other people and as they do so their laugh is musical and their manner is infused with gratitude. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all.

When I meet such a person it brightens my whole day. But I confess I often have a sadder thought: It occurs to me that I’ve achieved a decent level of career success, but I have not achieved that. I have not achieved that generosity of spirit, or that depth of character.

A few years ago I realized that I wanted to be a bit more like those people. I realized that if I wanted to do that I was going to have to work harder to save my own soul. I was going to have to have the sort of moral adventures that produce that kind of goodness. I was going to have to be better at balancing my life.

It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love?

We all know that the eulogy virtues are more important than the résumé ones. But our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light. Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character.

All the best for a wonderful week.

 

MR CLARK WIGHT

HEAD OF PREPARATORY SCHOOL

Exam Reflection

LeadershipTeam-3Over the coming week our Year 11 and 12 students will be receiving their examination results. Depending on their performance this may be a rewarding, but also confronting time for our students with the possibility of a wide range of results across their subjects. Although the result attained is one of the important features of the exams, equally important is the students’ ability to reflect on their performance (be it good or bad!) in order to truly learn from the experience.

As teachers and parents we can seek to support our students by assisting them to reflect on their exam performance. Self-reflection is a higher order skill that boys may not feel they are equipped to undertake. They may be struggling for motivation if they are disappointed, or alternatively, not feel the need to reflect if they have performed well, or ‘just scraped through’. Regardless of results, reflection is important as it allows for future performance to be improved across the whole spectrum of results.

Listed below are some relevant themes and reflective questions you may like to use in order to assist your sons to reflect on their exam performance:

Preparation

  • Which study activities/strategies were the most helpful? Which were least helpful?
  • How realistic was their study schedule? Were they able to complete tasks in the time allocated?
  • Were they able to predict the topics on the exam? How could they have been more informed in the lead up?

Performance

  • How well did students understand and follow the instructions given for the exam?
  • Did they have the correct equipment for the exam?
  • Did they have enough time to answer all the questions?
  • Was the right amount of time allocated to questions that were worth significant marks?
  • Which concepts and topics were they the most/least confident answering?
  • What kinds of questions did they find easiest to answer? Which were more difficult?
  • What kinds of emotions did students feel during the exam? Did they have any stress management techniques?

And most important of all – What will they change in the future?
Which study activities and habits will they continue to use in future?
Which study activities and habits will need to change? Why?
What have they learned about themselves as a student from this experience?

Encourage them to think about the support that they may need from family, friends, teachers, mentors, counsellors and fellow students and how this can be utilised to assist in future exams.

Ensure they write down and post in a high vision/traffic area (e.g. the fridge or their study desk) three or four strategies they will commit to putting in place to enhance preparation and performance during the next series of exams.

In the brief time I had with my Year 12 class yesterday, which we spent discussing and reviewing our exam, a few typical themes came up and I have no doubt that these are probably three of the most common ‘roadblocks’ boys can encounter during exams, so I have suggested a few tips that students may find useful if they identified these through their reflection process.

If students ran out of time?

  • Time management is very important in exams and cannot be overstated. In future, make a tentative plan during reading time by assessing the exam structure and the number of questions. Give more time to questions worth more points.
  • Answer the easier questions first to build confidence.
  • Mark the questions you can’t answer easily and come back to them later.
  • Don’t spend too much time on a single question.
  • Keep an eye on the clock.

If students misread or misinterpreted questions

  • Slow down and read the questions carefully.
  • Highlight/underline key words in the question to help you focus.
  • Write down your ideas before you write your answer.
  • Review the question and your answer before moving on.

If students felt very stressed and anxious during the exam

  • Be prepared, it will help calm your nerves.
  • During the exam, put your pen down and take some deep breaths. Concentrate on your breathing and try again
  • Don’t look around at others in your exam. Stay focused on your exam paper
  • If you know exam stress is a common theme for you, make a time to see a counsellor who can help you with some relaxation techniques to ease anxiety.

Hopefully you are able to find something useful in here to assist you sons to feel better prepared and more confident about future examination performance and also that they feel they can learn from their exams regardless of their result.

BRAD EVANS
HEAD OF SENIOR SCHOOL

Living our values

LeadershipTeam-7“Let’s cut the chit chat and run!”

This was a comment made to me by Year 3 student Phoebe as we headed into the homestretch of the cross country yesterday. Phoebe and all of the Preparatory School runners definitely put in a huge effort as they challenged themselves on our cross country track.

Isn’t it amazing to watch our community gather together (students, staff, parents and grandparents) to support one another? The cross country is yet another example of what we value as a School – personal excellence, respect and teamwork.

These values, and more, were on display in every race from Year 1 to Year 6. We heard comments like:

“My time was 40 seconds faster” – Personal Excellence

“We can do this – let’s stick together” – Teamwork

“You were amazing” – A Year 5 top 10 finisher to a puffed and proud final 10 finisher

This is Guildford Grammar School.

The more I watch and listen the more I see and hear our/your values being lived.

There was fierce competition with respect.

There was challenge with compassion.

There were individuals who helped others as a team.

And throughout the course, at the start line and at the finish, there you were supporting all of the children, showing the love and appreciating all efforts at all levels.

So this article is dedicated to you – this community. For being the kind of community that shares common values, supports one another and understands how much stronger we are as a team than hundreds of individuals. Thank you!

Have a wonderful long weekend.

Live, love, laugh and enjoy the moments.

Mr Clark Wight
Head of Preparatory School

What made you smile today?

LeadershipTeam-7What made you smile today?

Before you read on, take a moment and think of that experience that made you smile.

Listening to a podcast the other day the author asked that question of listeners, “What was the moment you have had today that made your soul smile?”

The question caught me off guard as I was thinking ahead to what was due (this Bulletin article), what I had forgotten that day (to get milk) and what I needed to fix (that leak in the roof). That one question forced me to stop, pause, reflect and instantly I started to smile.

The memory that brought that smile from my soul to my face was from last Friday. Watching our community come together for a common cause, united in support of others, laughing and celebrating, was the reason for my smile.

I was told beforehand, “You haven’t seen anything like Crazy Hair Day at Guildford Grammar Preparatory School before!” They were correct. The colour, designs, excitement and support of our fellow siblings, friends and children suffering with Leukaemia was phenomenal.
As we joined together in a sea of gel, hairspray, colouring, adornments and joy, we felt the pulse and soul of our Preparatory School. Every child and adult joined together in the power of community, the power of purpose and the power that is created when we commit to helping others.

The smile that has continued this week is a wonderful mixture of pride in our kids, joy to be a part of the community and wonderment at the intricate, extreme and downright hilarious hairstyles on our kids and staff.

Together, we were and are a powerful force for making a significant, positive change in our world and in the lives of others.

Thank you to all of you. Together we are GGS!

Perhaps a new question at the dinner table this week.  “What made you smile today?

Unplugging from the matrix over the holidays

LeadershipTeam-7As we head into the school holidays, do yourself a favour and read these words of wisdom from our Head of Preparatory School, Mr Clark Wight, on “unplugging” over the break, taken from this week’s Bulletin.

“Can I be so bold as to ask a favour over the school holidays? If so, can you please find time for your kids to “unplug from the matrix”. And while I am at it, could you also let them get incredibly bored. I know, it sounds crazy. Unplugging and getting bored create the perfect terroir for the onset of creativity. You may have to endure some wailing and chest beating around the unfairness of life, but just blame me. Three days unplugged and with boredom high on the agenda leads to the most amazing creative outpourings and, even better, conversations. It is during these too rare windows of decreased scheduled activities that our children breath more deeply, worry less and enjoy nature and the world around them. Their eyes are opened to new ideas and we, as families, reclaim childhood and time.

A friend of mine dumps boxes of old photos on their table (when we used to go get them printed) and the kids sort through them for hours. The stories abound as their curiosity is piqued around their “old” cars, hair, friends and dress sense. Hilarious.

If you give it a go, please let me know if the absence of technology and scheduled activities had a beneficial outcome for your child(ren).”

Mr Clark Wight

Head of Preparatory School

Creativity

LeadershipTeam-3One of the joys that many parents, or anyone who is involved with younger children can attest to, is the entertainment and interest that can be experienced when we watch younger children ‘make believe’, tap into their creative side and imagine up their own little world full of fun and play. Toys come alive, couches become race tracks and fairies are everywhere in the garden.  It certainly provides a fond point of reflection where hopefully we can recall time in our own lives when we were young at heart and able to create and play in these vivid scenes.

My thoughts have turned to creativity thanks to a number of key events and pieces of media I have seen in the last week. These included watching the film Finding Neverland, which relays the story behind the creation of JM Barrie’s well known Peter Pan character and accompanying theatrical show (which is also featured in many lists of ‘movies adolescent boys should watch’), the creative exploits of some of our School’s dramatic students who performed the Passion of Christ at the weekend’s Palm Sunday Service, and also a regular parenting and adolescence email subscription that came through mentioning the topic, all of which prompted me to do some further research. Writing for www.parentingideas.com.au, Dr Jenny Brockis discusses a range of relevant points about the importance creativity has in adolescent development. Dr Brockis states that “Research tells us that those kids who continually access creative outlets are the more successful students, because creativity is linked to whole brain development. Brain wise, creativity is important for the development of language, problem solving, reasoning skills, understanding and learning.”

The difficulty arises when students grow into adolescence where the notion of ‘make believe’ seems to make way for a much more structured, disciplined and dedicated approach to learning, which can often (unfortunately) lead to creative outlets like art, music and drama not being undertaken by all students.

Creativity is generally linked with “making up” or “make believe”, when in reality it is actually about the development and sharing of new ideas and new ways of thinking, two skills that will be valuable as we proceed through the 21st Century. Berkeley University’s Education faculties ‘Greater Good’ program identifies the benefits that creativity can bring, indicating that creative people are more flexible and better problem solvers, which makes them more able to adapt to technological advancements and deal with change, two forces that seem to be ever present in modern life.

To further support the importance of creativity as a 21st century skill I would also like to highlight the work of Mark Batey, Psychology Today writer, whose article Is Creativity the Number 1 Skill for the 21st Century? identified a range of research supporting the benefits creative ability offered to organisations in the future. Some of the key points in his article are:

  • In surveys conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (one of the world leading management consultants) creativity and innovation are ranked as the top strategic imperatives for firms.
  • In a global survey of 1500 CEO’s, IBM found that creativity was considered to be the number one leadership trait for the future: more than rigour, management discipline, integrity or even vision – successfully navigating an increasingly complex world will require creativity.
  • Creativity is part of our everyday lives. We can all find original and useful ways of solving the problems we encounter.  In some industries and sectors, it may not be so much that ‘we can’, but rather that ‘we must’.

Reflecting on the data above it is clear that creativity is an attribute that will prove fruitful for those possessing it in the future, but also apparent that for many students it may not become fully developed depending on the selection of courses they choose.

This leads to two important considerations:

  • That creativity is not a talent, it is a skill, and as a result it can be developed if allocated appropriate time and effort
  • If stereotypical creative outlets and activities are being limited, as parents and educators we have a commitment to further reincorporate and foster these skills on a more regular basis.

In order to enhance creative development in your own families the following activities may be worth considering (adapted from 7 Ways to Foster Creativity in Your Kids, Berkley GGSC):

  • At an appropriate time (e.g. dinner) allow the children in your family to brainstorm ideas and activities for the upcoming weekend, provided the activities are those that your family has not undertaken before. The focus of the activity is on idea generation not evaluation, so don’t be too quick to suggest the why’s or why not’s in relation to the activity going ahead.
  • When asked for assistance by your children in relation to problem solving encourage them to find more than one path to a solution. Once the problem is solved ask for a second solution to the problem, before deciding on the best course of action.
  • Scramble the screens. Allocate certain hours of the day as screen-free zones, a time to do other activities such as puzzles, games, books, or cooking. Time away from a screen can help facilitate creativity as it allows the time and space for every member of the family to find and pursue their own creative outlet.  (Adapted from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-schreibman-walter/3-key-ways-to-foster-crea_b_9499252.html)

I trust that all families will enjoy some special time together over the coming Easter break, and hope that the opportunity for all of us to reflect on and develop some more creativity in our lives is available.