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Welcome and welcome back!

Welcome to all of you who are families new to the school. This is a friendly and caring school and I’m sure that your child(ren) will settle in and feel comfortable very soon. Please stay in touch with staff to ensure that this occurs. I know you will find them empathetic and supportive.

Welcome back to all families who were members of the school community in 2014. I trust your school holiday period allowed for some refreshment, relaxation and good fun!

A new school year allows for a new start!

In our opening school assembly I asked the older students to reflect upon the 2014 school year and set themselves some goals that will guide their learning in 2015.

The most important thing a school does is teaching and learning. It is our core business. We will be strongly focusing upon the quality of teaching and learning and ask for your assistance with your child(ren)’s attitude and approach to their learning. At the end of last year and again last week the staff have been working on how best to assist students in their learning and improve our own teaching.

Teachers like to assist and support students in their learning. Teachers will teach well but only students can do their learning! That is why it is important for you to assist your child(ren) to set themselves some learning goals for this year or this semester.

At the assembly I told a little story:
A long time ago two, Chinese children Hai and Chanming set out to earn themselves some money. They went to many houses, shops and businesses before a rich woman gave each of them a cane basket and pointed to a well in the courtyard. She said, ‘Take these baskets and draw water from the well until it is dark’. Hai thought it foolish to draw water from a well using a cane basket so he went off to sleep in the corner of the courtyard. On the other hand, Chanming did as he was asked and kept working. After a few hours, when he drew the basket out he saw some gold coins in the bottom of the basket. He took them out and went to the woman who told him he could keep the gold coins as payment for his work and reward for his trust.

I suspect many of you think this is a strange little story! Why would you draw water from a well using a cane basket?

The two important messages are about trust and hard work. Chanming trusted the rich woman and worked hard at the job he was given, even if it did not seem to make sense to him at the time. He was rewarded for both his trust and hard work.

I advised the students that if they are interested in their own learning, teachers will make efforts above and beyond professional expectations to help them. If trust is also built then the relationships will be strong.

The partnership between parents and the school (teachers) for young students and with older students the three way partnership between parents, students and the school is critical. Trust and common purpose are important for the success of children (students).

At the end of the 2014 school year, I gave each and every staff member a book for Christmas and a request to read it over the summer break. The book was Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2007) by Professor Carol Dweck. Carol Dweck is Professor of Psychology at Stanford University.

In the book, Carol Dweck draws upon her research to describe a growth mindset as the requirement for success in the 21st century rather than a fixed mindset.

People with a fixed mindset believe that their intelligence or talents are fixed – and success happens because of talent or intelligence.

People with a growth mindset believe their basic qualities can be developed with effort, focus, training, coaching and hard work.

This table outlines some of the differences:

Fixed Mindset

Intelligence is fixed
Leads to a tendency to look smart and thus:
Avoids difficult challenges
Gives up easily when obstacles arise
Sees effort as a waste of time
Ignores feedback
Threatened by the success of others

Growth Mindset

Intelligence can be developed
Leads to a desire to learn and therefore:
Embraces challenge
Persists in the face of obstacles
See effort as the road to mastery
Learns from criticism
Inspired by the success of others

Based on a table from www.karentuiboyes.com/2014/11/effort-vs-accompishment/

A growth mindset leads to success far more than a fixed mindset, especially in a world always changing, a world where opportunities, problems and challenges are going to occur, perhaps with little warning.

Carol Dweck’s research suggests teaching a growth mindset creates motivation, productivity and success in many fields of endeavour, including education and sports. She says it also enhances relationships.
The following links provide a good introduction to Carol Dweck’s work, though a search on YouTube will provide many opportunities to listen and watch Professor Dweck.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWv1VdDeoRY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGvR_0mNpWM

So how do we develop this growth mindset? To learn you also have to be willing to make mistakes, to get it wrong. Some of the best learning comes initially from errors. Learning new information is hard work; it is tiring to learn, but the more we do it, the easier it gets.

As adults we need to step back a little and let children struggle and up to a point, work it out for themselves. Many children display learned helplessness because an adult, often a teacher or parent is constantly jumping in to rescue and help them. We need to recognise that the effort and the journey is very important and in doing so, often the result will look after itself.

Ours is a very friendly, caring and supportive school. We will all, teachers and students, improve as we focus on working hard and giving of our best. The two will work nicely together.

This school was started in 1982 by an organisation called Taylors. Taylors was an institution that focussed on taking in <strong>any</strong> student who enrolled and assisting them to achieve and gain success, even if they did not have success at other schools.

Taylors focussed on improvement and growth in the student through high expectations, strong, high quality teaching, a supportive, caring and friendly environment and gently holding students responsible for their own learning. Taylors developed growth and improvement, through focus and effort.

That is our history; it will guide our future.

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