Dear St John the Apostle families,
Thank you to the wonderful parents who have the capacity to volunteer their time to support our school and it's families. Thank you to Belinda Duke who organised the family portraits that were taken last weekend. When my children were younger we were regulars at this because it made for a good present to grandparents and others and it was just nice to get an affordable updated photo each year while supporting the school at the same time. Thank you also to Heather Rattenbury, Sarah Stanton and Michael Rix who always help Maria prepare all the food for students each and every special lunch day. They are regulars in the canteen where help is always appreciated.
As we come closer to the end of 2020, complete with one curve ball after another, we have reflected on all we have learnt and how we have grown. This year has pushed us to change teaching & learning strategies, explore effective communication strategies and examine the effective use of technology in our classrooms.
Semester 2 Reports
Earlier this year our Semester 1 student reports were modified to reflect the period of remote learning. We weren't able to provide complete reports and used a combination of written report and parent-teacher interviews to share student progress.
The feedback was positive from both staff and parents. Staff particularly appreciated the opportunity to give more specific and personalised feedback about student achievement. They appreciated the opportunity to speak with clarity, use examples and ensure there was a shared understanding of where to go next for each child. With the opportunity to Zoom for their child's Parent-Teacher Meeting we had a much higher take up by parents.
With this feedback in mind we will continue to build upon this successful experience for Semester 2. This Monday, information will go home about how our Semester 2 reporting process will occur. It will involve a report being sent home earlier than usual (Week 7) followed by the opportunity to have a Parent-Teacher Interview about your child's report and achievement over the year (Weeks 8 and 9). The Parent-Teacher Interviews will once again be available over Zoom and a few face-to-face options may be available if restrictions allow. Longer sessions have been provided so a more in-depth conversation can occur, with a focus on what to work towards next year.
These outcomes of the Parent-Teacher Interviews will then become part of the 'handover conversation' that teachers will have in Weeks 9 and 10 when the current teacher speaks with students' 2021 teachers about their learning needs.
Relationships between home and school are fundamental to children's success. Our previous Semester 2 reporting process didn't lend itself to fostering these important relationships. We hope that this new way of reporting will be much more beneficial for all.
Technology in 2021
Another great learning from this year is how we can use technology to greatly improve the quality of teaching & learning experiences for our students. Our Community Council has worked together with members of our Executive Team to help provide a parent's perspective in the use of technology across our school and we will have some exciting news to share next week, particularly for our middle and upper students.
Welcome to new staff
I would like to welcome Kirsty Vera to our staff for the remainder of the year. Kirsty (mother of Gabby in Year 4 and Tessa in Year 2) will be taking up the Library Assistant role for the last five weeks, helping to make sure our wonderful library is ready to begin again next year! We welcome her experience and enthusiasm in this area.
Class placements for 2021
Thank you to all of the parents who have communicated regarding any specific needs they would like considered in placing their own child in a class group next year. Parents wishing to communicate this were asked to email me directly (not the classroom teacher) with the considerations they would like kept in mind as part of the class creation process. These have been collated and will be treated confidentially and viewed only by me as we now begin the class creation process for 2021. The cut off for communicating these considerations was today, Friday 13 November.
We're very excited about how 2021 is shaping up. There is a great momentum around some positive changes we are planning for. Please keep reading the Newsletter to stay up to date with the latest news about what is happening. There's more to come!
What we are learning about
I have noticed a lot of teachers choosing materials to purchase for Christmas craft. It does take a while to order it online. So, it was timely to remind everyone too about Advent. We always plan a few weeks ahead, so we need to be ready. Last year I met with each year level to decide what the advent focus would be. This year I am going to met with them again to see how we can continue to develop our students' understanding. Advent, Christmas and Easter are really our core business. We need to ensure each year we add a layer of understanding to deepen the faith of our students and our staff. What are you doing at home to deepen your family’s understanding of Advent this coming Christmas season?
Catholic Life and Reflection
I received this lovely email from Tegan Campbell about how her son Ethan is being “on earth the heart of God”.
“Over the weekend, Ethan noticed the Kmart wishing tree. It sparked a conversation around how there are people doing it tough and Christmas is a time when it can become even harder for them. I explained what the tree was for and how if everyone who could, all contributed in someway, it would help many families have a joyful Christmas.
Ethan turned to me and asked if this is something he could use his give jar for. Each week when our boys get their pocket money, they have to divide it over thee jars. One is for spending, one for saving and one to give back to the community. The only rule is they have to put something in each. Over the past 3 months, Ethan had saved $18 in his jar. I followed him around Kmart as he looked at items, checked prices, he wanted to make sure he found toys that children would like but weren’t too expensive so he could help as many people as he could. In the end he spent all $18 and purchased 7 items. I was one proud mum.”
Well done Ethan for being on earth the heart of God in our community. We are proud too.
If your family has any stories where ‘being on earth the heart of God” is demonstrated please email me firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to share with our community.
What I am learning about
On Tuesday I had the pleasure of joining the Youth Ministry lunch time group fondly called “Prayer with Clare.” They meet each week to pray and talk about their faith. I haven’t been able to be a part of it until now. I was so thrilled to see how many students, not the ones you might expect, turned up. How prayerfully they prayed the rosary, diligently sliding their fingers along the beads, joining in the prayers. They were able to name a Joyful Mystery to focus on and spent a great deal of their time in silence.
Watching children take their own faith journey is quite inspiring. What a blessing Clare is to our community.
Religious Education Coordinator
Notices from the Parish
Happy birthday to Matthew H, Jessica G, Olivia H, Natalia S, Sophie J, Ajay B, Benji D, Matthew H and Mau'lupe M who all celebrated a birthday over the last week.
Please note that we ask students to not bring home made cupcakes to share with the class for their birthdays. This is a precautionary measure for health and hygiene. The Canteen offers a number of options to share with the class. Purchases can be made through the QKR app.
The power of sorry
Our boys tend to get into trouble more than our girls. There are lots of cultural and biological reasons for this but much of it boils down to the fact that boys are still soft-wired to be ‘mammoth hunters’, ready to react to any threat.
Generally, boys have more muscle than girls and, with that, a physicality that gets them in strife. There’s also brain research that shows that, while females tend to quickly shift emotions from the brain’s limbic system to the word centres of the brain, males tend to shift them into their bodies.
This is more obvious as our boys become teens as they can be as big and strong as men, but their brains are under construction and their bodies are flooded with testosterone.
Author and counsellor Michael Gurian writes that boys tend to seek external measures of success to feel good about themselves. It is critical they maintain credibility and status in the eyes of the ‘tribe’… that’s their peers, not you.
Inevitably, all this means your son will probably make many mistakes; or hurt himself; hurt someone else; or make a very poor, thoughtless, seemingly stupid or cruel choice.
React with compassion not shame
How you react as a parent can significantly impact how your son recovers from mucking up. Your first reactions may be anger, disappointment or the urge to discipline harshly. However, there are other ways of reacting that can strengthen your bond with your son and ensure he learns from the experience through growth rather than shame.
Listen to him, guide him to see the impact of his poor choice, help him make it right, forgive him and ask him what he might do next time he’s in the same situation.
Break down the old male-code
This code told us that men don’t apologise as it’s a sign of weakness. One of the most powerful things we can teach our boys is that when we make mistakes, we own up to them and we apologise if need be. Teach your boys that saying sorry when they really mean it is a sign of courage and strength, not the opposite. It is also about taking responsibility for your actions, which is important for boys to learn. They need to see the men in their lives – particularly dads – apologise.
Don’t force an apology
Forcing a boy to apologise can be problematic. A genuine apology is very different to a forced apology. A genuine apology has a real sense of remorse attached to it. Coach your son to see the situation through the other person’s eyes. If someone has been impacted, he needs to apologise and make amends even if he didn’t intend for the consequences of his poor choice to happen. It doesn’t mean he’s wrong. It just means his choice affected someone.
To help your son better learn about failure, have conversations about things you hear in the media where boys and men have experienced failure and recovered. Steve Smith, the former captain of the Australian cricket team who was involved in a ball-tampering scandal, is a great example. He owned his mistake, publicly apologised and he went on to have a very successful return to cricket.
Your son is going to make poor decisions repeatedly until he has enough myelin in his brain to be more mindful of the choices he makes. That is just a fact of life. As parents, your job is to, day-by-day, help your son learn a culture of accountability without a need for severe punishment, shaming or ridicule.
Commonly known as the ‘queen of common sense’, Maggie Dent has become one of Australia’s favourite parenting authors and educators, with a particular interest in the early years, adolescence and resilience. She has written seven major books including the bestselling Mothering Our Boys and her 2020 release, From Boys to Men. Maggie is host of the ABC podcast, Parental As Anything. For further details visit maggiedent.com