Society has high expectations for our schools. As a result, many school principals and teachers feel pressure to continually improve student outcomes particularly those that are subject to public scrutiny, such as Naplan results. In this competitive environment some schools choose to ‘narrow the focus’ of their teaching with more emphasis on literacy and numeracy. This is arguably to the detriment of other key learning areas, interschool sport, and cultural and artistic opportunities for students.
Instead of ‘narrowing the focus,’ Narangba State School has deliberately sought to provide a broad-based education for its students. It was done to ensure that students have opportunities to engage with and excel in activities and programs outside academic focus, such as music, school sport, interschool and competitive sport, drama, robotics and ICT’s.
In this session Martin Leach, the school Principal of Narangba Sate School, will discuss his school’s approach to ensuring that a wide variety of options are available, and that every child has the opportunity to embrace their strengths.
Martin Leach is Principal of Narangba State School, an Independent Public School in the North Coast Region with an enrolment of approximately 715 students from Grade Prep to Year Six.
Previously Martin was Principal at Scarborough State School, Bribie Island State School and Surat State School. He has worked for Education Queensland since 1990 and taught in several schools in both South West and South East Queensland.
During 2016 Martin was based in North Coast Regional Office as a ‘Principal Professional Colleague’ where he worked extensively with Principals across the Region in a coaching and mentoring capacity.
He has three children, a long-suffering wife, and when he is not working, a love of the outdoors and in particular, fishing.
New Beginnings: The Positive Education Journey of a WA Primary School
Rachael Robertson – North Woodvale Primary School
Teaching has changed, and so has society. The role of a teacher is no longer limited to delivering content; our students demand our expertise for a range of issues they experience. With 25% of young people experiencing a mental health difficulty, the importance of implementing a positive education initiative is evident; the difficult part is knowing where to begin.
Positive education requires intentional teaching and learning of social and emotional competencies where students are explicitly taught the skills to be resilient, flourish, practice mindfulness and manage their emotions. We want our students to learn these skills and transfer them from the classroom, to home and beyond. Based on Martin Seligman’s research on positive psychology, developing a proactive rather than reactive approach to mental health is crucial.
In this session, participants will be guided through authentic experiences and activities that Rachael has found successful at her school. From the formation of a staff team and student team alongside a whole school wellbeing day, gratitude teachings, parent involvement and small meaningful interactions that are significant – you will walk away with something you are itching to trial in your classroom.
Rachael is a Level 3 primary school teacher at North Woodvale Primary School. She has a variety of leadership roles across the school, and is extremely passionate about mental health and wellbeing. Creating positive relationships with each individual student in her class is her strength and she has very high expectations of the Year 2 students in her care.
Rachael created a positive education team three years ago after identifying the students at school lacked the skills to deal with our ever-changing society. The team is zealous, driven and enthusiastic which has encouraged Rachael throughout the implementation process. Her passion is developing resilience in students and teaching gratitude.
She is currently studying her Masters of Education at the University of Western Australia and has conducted action research in the area of social and emotional learning and its impact on behaviour and achievement. Rachael has developed an ambition and commitment to share the success she has experienced with the wider community and encourages all schools to implement positive education making it meaningful and relevant in their context.
Desy Pantelos – Kidman Park Primary School, SA
At Kidman Park our vision is to provide an inclusive, engaging and challenging curriculum that supports learners to aspire to take risks, embrace change and achieve their full potential. Our purpose is to foster creativity, knowledge and skills for the twenty first century, enabling our learners to be empowered, resilient and informed global citizens.
Despite a variety of programs to support and enable students to be empowered, and resilient, to achieve their full potential and to make a difference, there was always something missing. What have we overlooked?
We believe it is JOY. The dictionary defines joy as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. Then why has it been missing from our programs?
In 2015 after listening to Amanda Gore speak about her book ‘Joy Is An Inside Job’ we decided to cultivate Joy in our school. Through our positive education program we have introduced practices which bring sustained happiness rather than momentary happiness at school. Practices that are designed to help students increase their well-being and enable them to meet the stresses of their world with skills and dispositions including gratitude, self-compassion, forgiveness, love and more. At our school we teach 12 practical skills which help students live a joyful, happy, positive and fulfilled life. One such strategy has been the introduction of ‘Joy Spots’ in each class to increase calmness and help students navigate difficult times. We don’t want students to think they have to be happy all the time. We don’t ignore our sadness, anger, anxiety or fears. We teach students to express their emotions in healthy ways rather than simply default to a range of destructive, negative emotions. Joy fuels each day’s experience of learning at our school.
Desy Pantelos has been teaching children ranging from Foundation to Year 7 in the public education system for 37 years in both S.A. metro and country schools. For ten of those years Desy was a co-ordinator for Gifted and Talented students at different sites, and has conducted site visits to provide Training & Development tailored for individual school needs. She successfully planned, developed, implemented and evaluated learning programs integrating Higher Order Thinking Skills into learning prograns and ran workshops for over 1000 International and Interstate teachers. Desy was nominated for a ‘National Excellence in Teaching Award.’ She achieved an Advanced skill teacher level 1 – recognising and acknowledging exemplary teaching and learning practices.
Currently Desy is a Specialist teacher at Kidman Park Primary focussing on Wellbeing and is coordinating a whole school ‘Joy Project’ which is centred on helping students flourish and achieve their full potential.
Desy bases her interactions with students on the belief that student learning is significantly enhanced by development of positive self-esteem. Much of her educational programme is about supporting that belief. More than anything, she sees the success of every child in the school as making her job a rewarding one.
Building Whole School Positive Community: From Student Voices to Parent Involvement
Ralph Johns, Lakes Grammar - An Anglican School
With Dr Helen Street
Surveys have consistently indicated that the students’, staff’s and parents’ wellbeing are improving under the guidance of Ralph Johns at the Lakes Grammar – An Anglican School.
Join Positive Schools chair Dr Helen Street for an On-the-Couch discussion with Ralph Johns, the 2016 NSW Positive Teacher, to explore the various wellbeing activities he has introduced successfully to the school. Find out how he overcome the many challenges of getting parents and community members involved and how he started taking steps for future planning and future programs to enhance the school community wellbeing.
Ralph is the Co-ordinator of Student Well-being in the Junior School of Lakes Grammar – An Anglican School in Warnervale, NSW. Over the past four years Ralph has introduced and led the implementation of KidsMatter Primary. He has also helped establish, Peer Support, a student representative council and is introducing the social and emotional program, Friendly Schools Plus, to the junior school. Ralph has also been involved in collecting longitudinal data from parents, teachers and students on the school’s interventions to improve the mental health and wellbeing of the school.