In literature and the mainstream media, you often hear about the importance of fathers as role models for their sons. Boys learn how to be a man and how to interact with women by looking at their father or other significant male role models. There is an important need to surround your son with good role models so that they see what positive, healthy and respectful interactions look like.
I would argue that a mother’s relationship is equally important for boys in their development. Mothers are the barometer for the way boys learn to interact with the world around them from the moment they are born. The relationship and guidance a mother provides her son is probably one of the most important indicators of how he will later interact with female friends, colleagues and partners. Mothers are a role model, guide and teacher.
Mothers need to draw a line in the sand around the behaviours they are willing to accept from their sons. In an age of entitlement and expectation, every relationship needs to be based on high expectations for respectful interactions and service. Yes – boys should also be expected to contribute around the house, doing all the household jobs. The expectations need to be set high and boys need to realise that they are part of a team and everyone (including fathers) work together to get the household jobs done.
Last week, I listened to a podcast that interviewed Taurana Burke, who started the “Me Too” movement in 2007. Burke talked about the changes we are seeing in society with a greater focus on gender equity. In the short term, she feels we are witnessing individual changes. People are able to talk about personal experiences and examples of behaviour that happened which were offensive or wrong.
In the longer term, she views changes happening on a societal level. She is optimistic that this movement is not going to dissipate or run out of steam. She said, ‘When a light goes on and shows you something, you can never un-see it.’
Interestingly, she felt that social media Metoo# has in some ways been a distraction. Burke states that the Harvey Weinsteins of this world should have been called out under MeToo# but this is not how the longer-term change will occur. Burke said ‘We can fire Bob from accounting and take so and so off the board but if the boys of today are not learning and unlearning what is acceptable behaviour then all that is happening is we are going to create a replacement for them.’
She went on to say ‘Behaviour does not happen in a vacuum, it happens because society creates space for this to happen. The real issue is that out there, there is a little boy being socialised to disrespect women, to not respect other peoples’ bodies or to think he is better because he is a male.’
This is where we all need to focus because we want to grow the next generation of boys, which includes your son, to be different.
We have a big responsibility and mothers and fathers everywhere have the opportunity to make sure that their sons interact with them in ways that are respectful and kind and free from gender and any other kind of bias.
So, as the glow of the Mother’s Day season is still in our rear-view mirror, it is important to reflect on the important role our mothers play in developing the next generation of men. Men who interact with women in ways that are more respectful than the generations before them.
Listening and Building Relationships
Recently the boys in Year 5 viewed and discussed a TED talk called the ‘5 ways to listen better’ which focused on the importance of listening skills. It provoked a lot of interesting conversation and reinforced the skills that the boys develop through our Second Step social skills program.
As we know from our own experience, effective listening skills are important to enable us to interact successfully with each other. At Newington, we explicitly teach our students to listen to others and we provide them with meaningful opportunities to be heard and valued through the use of paddle pop sticks (to choose and group students), thinking routines (to promote deeper thinking and collaboration) and class/school surveys such as the School Culture Survey completed at the end of last term.
A new initiative that we’ll be introducing to our boys in Years 2 to 6 over the coming week (some boys are already familiar with this) is the opportunity to share, through a simple survey response, what that they wished their teacher or school knew (at the particular point in time or more generally). The survey format will allow students to be heard at times when they might feel like they don’t have the opportunity or would prefer to be ‘heard’ through a different medium than speaking.
The will be two generic surveys installed on each students iPad as a webapp. The I wish my teacher knew… survey will be class based and the I wish my school knew survey… will be about school in general. Initial response to these surveys has been very positive and insightful and we are hopeful that this will further enhance the community of learners that we have at Lindfield.
This concept stems from the work of Kyle Schwartz:
One day, third-grade teacher Kyle Schwartz asked her students to fill in the blank in this sentence: “I wish my teacher knew _______ .”
The results astounded her. Some answers were humorous; others were heartbreaking. All were profoundly moving and enlightening. The results opened her eyes to the need for educators to understand the unique realities their students face in order to create an open, safe, and supportive classroom environment. When Kyle shared her experience online, teachers around the globe began sharing their own contributions to #IWishMyTeacherKnew.
The following information is adapted from the Beyond Blue website and further highlights the importance that parents, educators, employers and students should place on listening!
Communication is a key factor in any relationship, especially those with children. Listening is a communication skill that can bring greater connection, clarity and understanding to build positive relationships with children.
Active listening: Communication with Children
Communication is a key factor in any relationship, especially those with children. Active listening is a communication skill that can bring greater connection, clarity and understanding to build positive relationships with children.
Often when listening to children, adults may be distracted by something else, fidget, rehearse what they want to say in their head, interject before the child has finished talking/expressing themselves, or have closed body language. All of these things can cause misunderstandings and conflict, affect whether children may disclose sensitive information again and can damage relationships. Active listeners have the intent to listen to the complete message and its meaning by paying attention to what children are saying, how it is being said. It involves being aware of body language, voice inflection, overall attitude and the meaning of what children are saying to validate communication and help children feel supported and understood.
Why is active listening important?
By being active listeners, parents and carers can strengthen their communication and relationships with children by demonstrating interest, care and understanding. Some benefits of active listening for communication and relationships are:
helping children to feel valued, connected, validated and understood
building trust and credibility with a child
helping clarify a child’s thoughts and feelings
avoiding conflict and misunderstandings
making it more likely a child will talk to you, express themselves and seek your views in the future
Actively listening to children can begin right from when they are born, as it is important that parents and carers communicate with babies through understanding their cues and body language. By paying attention to a baby’s body language or non-verbal cues, such as understanding different kinds of crying or noticing how a baby moves when they are distressed, parents and carers can understand what and how a baby communicates.
Skills tips: What does active listening involve?
Active listening is a skill that can be learned and practised. It can mean different things in different cultures, with some aspects needing to be altered but active listening involves the following aspects that need to be practised over time:
Give the child your full attention. This may involve stopping what you are doing (e.g. turning off the television, stopping cooking), moving away from a busy place or letting the child know you want to listen and will give them your full attention when you finish (e.g. when caring for another child). When you are talking to a child and you notice your mind is wandering, bring it back to what the child is saying. Prioritising time to listen actively and attend shows a child their feelings are important and that you are interested in what they are thinking and feeling.
Use your eyes to listen. Make eye contact and if possible, get down to their level to show them you are ready to listen.
Listen carefully to what is being said. Listen to both what the child is saying and their body language, without interrupting and avoiding questions that break the child’s train of thought. Focus on what the child is saying and the meaning behind it, rather than what you are going to say next.
Use encouragers. Show that you are interested by nodding your head, smiling or making other appropriate facial expressions, providing verbal encouragers such as “mmm”, “uh huh” or making comments like “I see”, “that sounds hard/tricky/great” to help encourage the child to keep speaking and engage in what they said.
Reflect the feeling. After the child has talked about a feeling, thought, experience, etc. use the opportunity to respond and gently describe in your own words what you think the child is feeling and why. For example, “You seem to be feeling a bit upset about not making the football team”. This can help demonstrate empathy (recognising, understanding and respecting the feelings of others) and understanding of the child’s feelings and thoughts.
Use pauses and silences. Resisting the temptation to fill silences is important when children are trying to think about what else they want to say, as it gives them time to think and respond.
Ask open-ended questions. Open questions (e.g. “What are you concerned about when you go to school?”) encourage more detailed responses where children can provide more deep and meaningful information.
Summarise. Summarising the child’s main points can demonstrate that you understand what they were saying and can allow an opportunity for the child to add something.
Make non-judgemental statements. It is important to refrain from judgement statements, such as “You feel scared about silly monsters at night”, that can prevent children from disclosing further information. Try to reflect or paraphrase what a child has said, in your own words in a non-judgemental way, for example “You feel scared about monsters when the lights get turned off”. This lack of judgement invites the child to tell you more about what they are thinking or feeling.
Choose words to start a conversation. You can begin active listening by using questions or statements such as “You seem to be feeling…about…”, “It looks like you feel…with…”, “You sound…at…”, “You seem…because…” An example might be “You’ve been sitting very quietly and hugging your teddy bear. It seems like you are feeling sad about something. Would you like to tell me about it?”
Like any skill, active listening takes time and practice to develop but is very rewarding for parents, carers and children. It is not only a skill that can help support healthy communication and strong relationships with children, but also with other adult relationships.
The question of ‘what really matters in life’ is something that can create different responses for different people. Each of us have different priorities and ideas that we place importance on. Yet there are some things that I think everyone would agree are truly important things in life. Concepts such as love, joy, hope and peace are ones that we all strive for or hope to be part of our lives. Yet they’re also concepts that in many ways can be intangible or difficult to articulate.
We’ve taken up the challenge to better understand these concepts in Chapel Services at the Senior School and over the last few weeks I’ve been reflecting on the idea of peace. All of us would want to strive for peace, be it in our own lives or when we look at the wider world. Yet it’s easy to become cynical or jaded towards the idea of peace, especially world peace, when we think of what it would take to achieve.
Over the last few months we’ve seen some of the worst acts of violence and for many that’s challenged the thought that peace could be possible. The attacks in Christchurch and the bombings in Sri Lanka have sent shockwaves throughout the world. For me personally, the Sri Lankan bombings hit home deeply. My family is originally from Sri Lanka and I have a deep personal connection to the country. Earlier this year I enjoyed a wonderful holiday there including celebrations with family. So, to see the peace of this nation challenged was very troubling.
But it’s in the face of these terrible attacks that I’ve been more emboldened to strive for peace. In the wake of the attacks in Sri Lanka I was reflecting on a passage in the Bible, Romans 12:9-21. In that passage the Apostle Paul uses phrases such as “love one another with mutual affection”, “live in harmony with one another” and “live peaceably with all”. For me, all of these phrases speak to striving for a commonality between all people. It can be so easy for mean spirited remarks about those who are different, the ‘other’, to slip into our community attitudes. This reading urges us to work for harmony with those, even if they’re different to us.
It can be difficult to explain these concepts with our Prep School boys. But I think a good way to start is by talking about diversity; by celebrating the joy that diversity is in our lives and how great it is that we can experience different cultures, different faiths and different experiences.
If we start by talking about diversity, by celebrating it and speaking about it, then we start to break down the nastiness that we sometimes see in our communities. If we do that then we start to achieve what Paul talks about in that passage from Romans and we start to make the concept of peace far more tangible and real.
Pastor Richard La’Brooy
PYP – Approaches to Teaching
Approaches to Teaching – Inquiry, Concepts and Conceptual Understanding
In the continued understanding of the enhanced PYP (ePYP) we look at the Approaches to Teaching. The approaches to learning, which was the subject of last edition of PrepTalk, and approaches to teaching are crucial for exploring subject knowledge.
Inquiry, as the leading instructional approach of the Primary Years Programme (PYP) recognises students as being actively involved in their own learning and as taking responsibility for that learning. PYP learning is approached with a spirit of inquiry. Drawing from the transdisciplinary themes and students’ interests, inquiry is an authentic way for students to relate to, explore and understand the world around them.
Inquiry nurtures curiosity and promotes enthusiasm for life-long learning. It encourages students to think, challenge and extend their ideas; it prompts them to reflect and take action. Inquiry is purposeful and authentic. It incorporates problem solving and supports students in achieving personal and shared goals. Inquiry extends students’ learning when the exploration of initial curiosity generates new questions and wonderings with connections being made between personal experiences to local and global opportunities and challenges. Students move from current understandings to new and deeper understandings.
Concepts and Conceptual Understanding
Students build their conceptual understandings by making connections between the new knowledge acquired from their learning and their prior knowledge.
A concept is a “big idea”— a principle or notion that is enduring and is not constrained by a particular origin, subject matter or place in time (Erickson 2008). Concepts represent ideas that are broad, abstract, timeless and universal. Concepts add depth and rigour in student thinking to the traditional “two-dimensional” curriculum consisting of facts and skills. Concepts place no limits on breadth of knowledge or on depth of understanding, and therefore are accessible to every student.
Key concepts provide a lens for conceptual understandings within a unit of inquiry. The PYP identifies seven key concepts that facilitate a conceptual approach to learning. Together, these key concepts form the component that drives inquiries that lie at the heart of the PYP curriculum.
By identifying and investigating key concepts, students learn to think critically about big ideas. This may be done through broad, open-ended questions in an inquiry.
The questions associated with the key concepts are a starting point. They represent an introduction to a way of thinking about our world.
Key concepts provide a lens for conceptual understandings associated with a transdisciplinary theme.
Concepts facilitate depth and complexity in learning and provide a structure for conceptual understandings that build upon the knowledge and skills to extend and deepen student learning. Compared to simply learning or memorizing isolated facts, locked in place and time, conceptual understandings are changeable, contextual, and may be elaborated or reinterpreted (Milligan, Wood 2010).
Concept-based inquiry is a powerful vehicle for learning that promotes meaning and understanding, and challenges students to engage with significant ideas. They are powerful, broad and abstract organising ideas.
Sue Gough – PYP Co-ordinator
Co-Spaces in Year 6
The Co-Spaces programme in Year 6
The class room has come a long way. Back in the day, it was a blackboard and chalk, a spirit duplicator churning out copies of work, a television for the whole school and a (usually shared) overhead projector (you may need to Google it!).
Fast forward to today and the technological tools available for primary students is seemingly endless. It is much less about the hardware and more about the software available to enhance learning.
This term, Year 6 has been fortunate to be working with Ms Belinda Martins, Newington Digital Learning Leader, who has introduced a programme called Co-Spaces. This is an intuitive educational technology enabling students and teachers to easily build their own 3D environments, animate them with code and explore them in virtual or augmented reality.
Currently Year 6 is studying the unit “How the World Works” with a focus on the interaction between the natural world (physical and environmental) and human societies. In that, they have via Co-Spaces, been creating virtual environments which need to be accurate in terms of flora and fauna selected. It allows the students to add interactive information onto animals or plants which allows them to justify their choice of each.
Co-Spaces is one resource used. The students have also been getting practical making dioramas, sketching environments before and after some form of change as well as researching the characteristics all things we see as having life, must comprise.
Co-Spaces engages the students with its coding capability and flexibility of use. Just ask the boys:
“I like Co-Spaces. It’s fun. We can create worlds and design things specifically for the environment you want to build.” – Darcey
“Co-Spaces allows you to be creative and lets you use your imagination.” – Jesse
“The finished product is rewarding.”– Chase
David Musgrove – Year 6 Teacher
Stage 3 – Taronga Zoo Excursion
As a provocation for the Stage 3 boys’ current unit of inquiry, they spent the day at Taronga Zoo in the last week of Term 1. The visit to the Zoo helped provoke the boys’ thinking around the central idea, ‘The adaptation of living things is impacted by changes in environments’. Throughout the course of the day, they took in the sights in their own time, attended workshops run by the Zoo’s education team, and watched some of the animal shows on offer.
The Zoo is one of my favourite spots in Sydney, and in the six years that I have been here, I must have been at least fifteen times as a Zoo Member. The boys were equally as enthralled on the day, observing the features of a range of animals, making notes on their structural or behavioural adaptations, and getting up close and personal with a range of animals as part of the Zoo’s education program.
This is what some of the boys thought about the day:
Joe Callow, Year 6: “I really enjoyed the bird show because we saw a type of owl that swooped over every row. When the owl flapped its wings you could barely hear any noise, which is an adaptation for hunting prey silently.”
Jake Sommer, Year 6: “What was great about Taronga Zoo is that we got to get up close with the animals in the workshops and touch them. We learnt about their adaptations, such as some of the monkeys with bodies adapted for climbing.”
Nathaniel Warwick, Year 5: “The whole day was great, we got to see a range of animals up close and personal and learn about how they have adapted over time. We also learnt about how the Zoo cares for certain species in their education workshops.”
Nicholas Trethewey, Year 5: “I loved taking photos of the various animals throughout the day. We then took our photos back to class and analysed how some animals have adapted to their environments.”
Sam Watson – Year 6 Teacher
Technology in Our Lives – Year 4
During our current exploration of the various forms of technology in the world, the boys in Year 4 have been delving deeper into this issue through their current Unit of Inquiry, How We Organise Ourselves.
Separated into groups of 5, the boys were given separate headings under which their research should focus. These were technologies related to the Medical, Manufacturing, Industrial, Communications and Digital Industries.
Here are a few of the interesting facts the boys discovered through this short journey:
Some machines may seem simple, however, they provide us with the means to do many things.
When sending a message, it must be encoded by the sender and decoded by the receiver.
Seventy-two percent of Apps are aimed at toddlers and pre-schoolers.
The steam engine was one of the first inventions within the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century.
There are currently more than 500 000 different forms of medical technology in our hospitals.
The approaches to learning in which the boys were engaged were mainly surrounding research and communication skills. They were tasked with optimising their time, working effectively within their groups and presenting their findings clearly. Overall, I’m very pleased to say, they managed to achieve all 3 aspects of their learning.
The purpose of this exercise was to set up the boys for future learning within the unit. As a summative assessment task, the boys will be asked to invent something that can potentially solve a perceived problem in their world or beyond. Knowing what kind of technology is available in the 21st century will help them when the assessment is due. They will need a broad range of choices to make their job easier.
The world is a big place with many needs, past, present and future, to be solved. This task is just a small step into a future when it could well be their reality and not just for their learning development.
Mr Edwards – Year 4 Teacher
Kindergarten – I Love My Mum …
The Kindergarten boys loved making cards for their beautiful Mums in celebration of Mother’s Day.
I love my Mum because she pays checkers and chess with me. She helps me to do up my buttons and she tucks me into bed when it’s night time. Beau
I love my Mum because she gives me hugs and makes good food like rice. Austin
I love my Mum because she makes food for me and she reads me books. Younghoon
I love my Mum because she sleeps with me and reads me books. We play together in the playground. Jayden
I love my Mum because she takes me to the Australian Reptile Park, and she gives me kisses and cuddles. Joshua
I love my Mum because she cooks dinner and she hugs me. She kisses me and helps me to do things. Benson Y
I love my Mum because she has fun with me. We play on my swing, and she pushes me really high. Elliot
I love my Mum because she does things with me and she loves me. Leo
I love my Mum because she reads me books and gives me fruit. Leon
I love my Mum because she makes very nice food. My favourite dinner that she makes is spaghetti. My Mum organises my birthday and she always tells me what to do. Riley
I love my Mum because she sleeps with me and plays with me. She lets me play on her phone. Julian
I love my Mum because she makes food for me and she hugs me every day. She is the best Mum because she says I love you. Benson Z
I love my Mum because she plays with me and she reads me bedtime stories. She gives me big hugs and when I feel lonely, she gives me a big group hug. Thomas
I love my Mum because she brings me to school and she gives me hugs. She buys things for me when I am a good boy and we play games together. Nick
I love my Mum because she drives the car that we go in when we go over the Harbour Bridge. She is very funny, and she makes me laugh. My Mummy’s dress is so pretty. Alfred
I love my Mum because she plays with me and Ryan. She gives me yummy food and she plays with me at the park. My Mum cuddles me. Justin
I love my Mum because she always cooks food and she takes me on holidays. She also takes me to the city and the beach. She lets me play in the playground. Ray
Miss Smallhorn – Kindergarten Teacher
Literature Festival 2019
Over the last week all three campuses of Newington College participated in the biennial Literature Festival. We were very excited to be able to bring quality literary experiences to our students. Throughout the event, the students explored ways that story can be told.
Matt Cosgrove, author of Macca the Alpaca, engaged our Kindergarten to Year 2 boys. We were very fortunate to have Matt visit our school as his book was chosen for 2019 National Simultaneous Storytime.
The boys also shared stories with Kate Forsyth, the author of many books for children, young adults and adults. The boys were particularly interested in her little treasure box which held many trinkets some of which were very valuable. All of these had a story to tell.
Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 shared stories with Oliver Phommavanh, Tim Harris and Tristan Bancks. The students explored worlds of fantasy and explosions and storytelling of an extreme nature. The Year 5 and 6 students also collaborated on illustration as story with Tom Burke, creating their images in cartoon styles, based on the character Tom Weekly and Con-Nerd.
This type of event helps us to promote literature and a love of reading. I interviewed some of the boys, here are their thoughts on Lit Fest 2019:
‘What I liked about the Lit Fest was that we got to see a real live author and we got to talk to them. My favourite author was Tristan Bancks because he was really funny and he has some really good books to read’. Declan Williams
‘I really enjoyed the Lit Fest because we got to talk to the authors and see how they got their ideas for their books. My favourite author was Oliver Phommavanh he was really funny and told us a lot about how to make books based on your own life and make them funny’. Jonathan Fitzgerald
‘The authors that we saw at Lit Fest were some of my favourite authors. They gave us many tips about writing our own books. The main one was to write about what you love’. Sam Schultz.
Kylie Bain – Art Teacher/Librarian
Learning Enhancement – Sketchnotes
Sketchnoting in Year 5
More than Just a Pretty Page – In Year 5 we have learning why and how people use Sketchnotes. From the beginning of the year we have been learning how to sketchnote during reading comprehension and writing lessons. We see examples of sketchnotes all around us, as advertisements, in articles and on social media. Sketchnoting can add fun and variety into the routine practice of notetaking, furthermore it can assist us in the following ways:
Sketchnotes Are Thinking Made Visible
‘Imagine learning to dance when the dancers around you are all invisible. Imagine learning a sport when the players who already know the game can’t be seen. Bizarre as this may sound, something close to it happens all the time in one very important area of learning: learning to think. Thinking is pretty much invisible.’ (David Perkins Harvard Professor). Sketchnoting on the other hand, unleashes a reader’s thinking in short order, with colours, shapes and letters.
Sketchnotes Allow for Student Choice
When sketchnoting whoever holds the pen holds the power. Only the thinker decides what appears on the page, and how. Giving student choice is an indicator of best practice and personalised annotation allows for maximum student choice.
Sketchnotes Help Strengthen Memory
A recent study suggests that we remember lectures when we listen and write with pen and paper instead of typing our notes at a keyboard (Mueller and Oppenheimer 2014). It has been proposed that a shallow kind of processing occurs when notes are typed, because those who type their notes tend to capture lectures word for word. When sketchnoting, it’s not about regurgitating passages of text verbatim. It is about taking new ideas and information and running them through the brain, using background knowledge to generate new thinking.