Category Archives: Principal’s Blog

Setting the right example

I am excited to say that we have never had so many players and teams represent the college as this year. This is due to the efforts of our Sports Department, enthusiastic students, passionate supporters, teachers and volunteer managers and coaches. With the high number of students involved in winter sporting activities it is worthwhile reminding ourselves about how our attitudes and behaviour can influence our children. I am pleased that in my time at MHJC I have seen outstanding sportsmanship. On Saturday our girls’ premier netball team was complimented by its opposition (who we had beaten) for being so gracious in victory. Our coach, the players and parents can feel justifiably proud of such a compliment which indicates a depth of character as much as sporting ability.

We will be tested during the season. We play sport to win and sometimes the ball does not bounce our way or a referee may make a poor decision. It is up to us as adults to maintain a balanced perspective when this occurs and show our students how to respond to adversity by demonstrating resilience. Support our students and coaches in a positive manner and may we receive as many compliments for our conduct as for our performances.

Thank you for your support and involvement, it is appreciated.

Growing greatness – kia mana ake

Celebration assembly term 1

As with tradition, term 1 ended with our Champion’s Assembly when students were acknowledged for achieving excellence in our four cornerstones of extra curricular activity.

We also recognised ANZAC Day with a poem read by Paul Chen who entered the ANZAC Poetry Competition run by the Auckland Museum and “In Flanders Field” by John McCrae read by three members of our Executive Council. The assembly closed with the school singing the National Anthem and respectfully reflecting on the personal and collective sacrifice of those who fell during a minute silence.

Our Executive Council will be joining the parade marching from Stockade Hill, Howick on ANZAC Day at 11 o’clock – we hope to see you there.

Growing greatness – Kia mana ake

A great term

The start of 2017 has been significant for MHJC. The school has taken a direction which will continue to ensure it is at the forefront of teaching and learning. The innovative approach of providing shared, stand-alone desktop computers has been replaced by a BYOD policy. This allows every student the chance to benefit at any time and in any place (including home) from the well established digital learning platforms provided by the school. It has also allowed teachers to push the boundaries of e-pedagogy for the benefit of our students which had become limited by our existing IT infrastructure. The use of digital technology is a well established practice at MHJC so the transition was not expected to be too difficult, however I wish to thank the teachers and support staff who have helped to successfully deliver this important outcome, particularly the IT Managers, Mr Mark Chang, Mr Ben Doughney and their assistant Mr Razak Shukor.

I would particularly like to thank our supportive parents who realise the need for their children to be as well equipped as possible to enjoy the benefit of learning in a digital age. We look forward to continuing our journey with you and helping our students to become responsible, capable digital citizens while valuing the importance of personal connections.

A long and busy term comes to an end – my best wishes to our community for a restful recovery during the holidays.

Growing greatness – Kia mana ake

Progress or perfection (part two)

Following my previous blog I have enjoyed several conversations relating to the topic and listened to several interesting talks. The first was by a sports psychologist who has assisted athletes to improve their performance by staying what he defines as the “green zone”. This is where the athlete focuses on process not outcome. This could mean the mechanics of a golf swing, the set up, body position and pre-shot routine. These are things the athlete can control while he/she cannot control what others are doing in the tournament, the weather conditions or the crowd. He argues that if athletes focus on what might happen next or what others are doing he/she moves into the “orange” or even “red” zone and the focus on the outcome can have a harmful effect on the process. Put simply by focusing on the process, the results will come.

In an educational context I would urge teachers and parents to focus on the process. Setting goals is a good way to motivate ourselves but we should not be consumed by the goal, particularly if it is beyond our control. So students may set a goal of gaining a top scholar award or improving their e-asTTle scores, however what we need to focus on are the processes that will take students in that direction. These include regular times for homework and completion of Maths Buddy and Reading Plus; integrating assessment deadlines into google calendar etc.

If we focus on the process, results will come.

Growing greatness – Kia mana ake

“Progress not perfection”

This phrase is on a poster at my gym and it has given me much food for thought. The first is that I should not take it personally as an observation of my efforts at the gym! More importantly I think it is a valuable lesson to us all that while we should strive for excellence this should not come at a cost to our personal wellbeing. Perfection is an ideal – the perfect note, speech or performance may be unattainable but progress towards this goal is still worthwhile.

This is particularly relevant at this time of the year as students reflect on their progress and articulate the short term and long term goals for the year during Student Led Conferences. Their e-asTTle scores are available and these will form the basis for the progress they will show in reading and Mathematics through the year. A key message to everyone at the school is that we analyse this data very closely, not only to assess individual and collective progress but also to evaluate the impact of our teaching.

Another phrase which is relevant to goal setting is that we learn more from our mistakes or failures than our successes. So set the bar high, strive for excellence but keep a balance and acknowledge that if we don’t quite make it there is nobility in making the effort.

Growing greatness – kia mana ake

Teachers as lifelong learners

At MHJC we believe that it is important for our teachers to continue to grow as professionals after they have completed their teacher training and two year provisional registration period. Every year all teachers meet with their mentor, a senior leader who helps them to set personal and professional goals that align with the school’s strategic direction, annual goals and achievement targets. Our weekly professional development programme assists teachers to reach their goals by providing time and expertise within these key areas and teachers meet fortnightly again with their mentors to discuss their progress.

One of our key objectives this year is to integrate the opportunities provided by the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) initiative into our teaching so that our students can attain even higher levels of achievement and engagement. To prepare for this, teachers used the google platform for the first time last year and also experimented with a class set of chromebooks in each whanau. This year all our teachers will be training for and sitting the examination for google accreditation as a Level 1 Certified Educator which will improve our capacity to utilise the potential of the google platform and portable, personally chosen devices.

Please join me in wishing all our teachers everything of the best in this journey. Once again we will experience the challenge, daunting for some, of a three hour examination. I will give the community feedback later in the year of our results without revealing the names of successful/unsuccessful candidates!

Growing greatness – kia mana ake

ERO feedback

As stated before we were extremely pleased with both the report and the productive conversations we had with the review team. We wanted to use the week as an opportunity to hear from experienced educators who visit a large number of schools and can offer positive and insightful perspectives. It is very pleasing to note that they were excited by what we are doing at MHJC. The conclusion sums up their findings:

“Students are well engaged and supported to develop high self-efficacy as learners. They learn through a rich and integrated curriculum that prioritises problem-solving.
Effective governance and widely shared leadership promote educational experiences that draw on middle year’s teaching and research”.
The Board of Trustees also met with the review team and we will be working on some of their suggestions moving forward. There were no areas of concern however we will be reviewing how we can promote ways to connect with our wider community and continuing to develop natural opportunities for all of us to become aware of and practice Te Reo Maori and Maori cultural heritage.
One way to achieve both these stated objectives is for us all to support the Cultural Day scheduled for Saturday 8 April.
This is a fantastic celebration of our culturally diverse community and includes the chance to sample traditional food, dance and music from different nations and New Zealand/Aotearoa.
I look forward to seeing you there and continuing our learning journey together.
Growing greatness – kia mana ake

Welcome to the 2017 school year!

Welcome to the 2017 school year!

This promises to be another year of exciting opportunities for our students. I look forward to welcoming all our new and returning students personally and hope everyone has made suitable resolutions for 2017.

We were very pleased with our National Standards achievement data and wish to congratulate the Year 7 and 8 cohort who managed to exceed the 2016 target in Mathematics and reach the 2017 target of 85% at or above standard a year early! All our results will be placed on the web site in the Principal’s Report once the NCEA data has been received.

We also received the confirmed ERO report which is also extremely positive. The team were extremely impressed by the school and how we are bringing the vision of “providing innovative, constantly evolving, personalised learning” to life. The full report will also be put on the web site after it has been ratified by the Board of Trustees at its first meeting of the year.

A big year lies ahead for our students who will be the first to be able to work at school with their own digital devices. We predict this move will have a very positive effect on teaching and learning and reinforces every aspect of our vision. Please refer to our web site for more information about this important initiative.

Best wishes

Reading plus

Gary Player, legendary South African golfer when asked why he was so lucky to chip so many balls straight into the hole answered, “It’s funny, the more I practice, the luckier I get”.

Much has been made of the assertion that to reach the top in any sport or activity a person needs to put in 10 000 hours of practice.

I am not suggesting that students need to spend 10 000 hours on Reading Plus (although it would be preferable to games or social media…..) however, we analysed our latest whole school data and there are interesting lessons to be learnt.

Reading Plus is one of the digital tools we use to deepen and strengthen our students’ reading and comprehension skills.The data shows the correlation between the number of sessions students completed on Reading Plus and the level gains the same students made. The magical figure is only 100 sessions (just over two sessions a week). Students who complete this minimum number show significant level gains and interestingly those who complete 200 sessions (just over four sessions a week) double their rate of progress.

So parents, please encourage your children to use Reading Plus at home. Some sessions can be done at school but as you can see valuable progress can continue any time, anywhere in keeping with our learning philosophy.

As holidays approach this is even more important as many students lose ground during this time – Reading Plus helps our students to get ahead and if we work as a team our students can improve even quicker.

Growing greatness/kia mana ake

Resilience means we finish strong

Resilience is a quality we promote within our GREAT acronym. I spoke to students this morning about finishing the year in the best possible way. We wish to acknowledge students for their amazing achievements, progress and commitment this year at the various assemblies and prize-giving designed for that purpose.

Some students will be leaving us and this message is perhaps more meaningful for them. I compare a school year to a 400 metre race. The first 100 can be hard for some as they struggle to start, the next 200 most students get into their stride but it is the last 100 that shows the most character. When you are tiring and near the end there is a desire to slow down or walk or even give up and stop.

Our students are RESILIENT, they don’t give up and they finish strong. They will be remembered not by how they started but how they finished.

I look forward to sharing the last few days with all our students and enjoying the celebrations of their success as we close.

Parents please support us as we maintain the high expectations of punctuality, appearance and manners right through to the end.

“Growing greatness – kia mana ake”