What Next?

He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.
— Isaiah 33:6
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A question I often ask myself when I am thinking about Emmanuel Christian School is, “What next?” Our 40 Year Celebrations are a good time to think about our future with some nostalgia. Our founding principal, Mr Dirk Petrusma, is still passionate about Emmanuel and speaks so joyfully about the school and all that has been accomplished in it by capable staff and committed families.

The Board is committed to seeing Emmanuel Christian thrive and be a leading force in education on the Eastern Shore of greater Hobart and southern Tasmania.

Over the last few years, Emmanuel has been growing in size. We have grown from around 150 students to over 215. This steady growth has been encouraging. We are seeing our community growing and being enhanced by many new families. 

We have been growing in maturity, too. Our new Media Crew is an innovative group lead by Mr Drew Roberts covering video, photos, web design and audio. This, on top of Code Club and the robotics and coding done across grades, show how dynamic and rich our learning program is from Kinder to Grade 10. This is a big part of the ‘what next.’

Each year we conduct satisfaction surveys of staff, parents and students. The valuable information supplied has helped with our planning. A good example of our response to these surveys is the Media Crew, where students wanted a student newspaper. This has exploded in size as it has been supported by Mr Drew Roberts and also Mr Brett Galbraith and the Christian Schools Tasmania Marketing team.

A team from CST, Emmanuel and our ever skilled and patient architect are looking at upgrading the Masterplan for Emmanuel. This is an interesting project as we look at refurbishment works at the same time as planning for new works. Our expansive grounds are also being looked at. These are also part of ‘what next.’ The masterplan is addressing needs identified by those of us at school and also referred to in the satisfaction surveys as we strive to provide quality Christian Education. 

As a Christian School, as Isaiah 33:6 reminds us, God will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. One thing we can be sure of is that with God as our foundation, Emmanuel Christian School will still be going strong in another 40 years.

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Scott Winkler - Principal

Growth Mindset 2

Feedback

In my previous article, I wrote about developing intrinsic motivation in students and the importance of Carol Dweck's research into Growth Mindset. Through her research, Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford University, identifies two core mindsets that individuals can hold. A Fixed Mindset and a Growth Mindset. 

The traits we see for an individual with a Fixed Mindset are that they believe their abilities are etched in stone and were predetermined at birth. They approach tasks with preconceived ideas about what the outcome will be, based on their own beliefs, before the task has even started.

However, individuals who possess a Growth Mindset believe that their skills and abilities can be cultivated through effort and perseverance. These individuals view tough situations as challenges and are willing to apply multiple strategies or seek assistance to solve the problem.

individuals who possess a Growth Mindset believe that their skills and abilities can be cultivated through effort and perseverance.

For most of us, going between these two mindsets is a daily occurrence depending on the task we face. Being able to identify when we are developing a Fixed Mindset and being able to turn that around is critical.

For educators trying to motivate students, this can be a challenge. Being able to identify students who get stuck can be tricky, particularly if they are quiet. Fostering an environment and creating a culture where students feel safe and are able to make mistakes is vital. At Emmanuel, teachers are doing this by actively engaging students in discussions about Growth Mindset, having students refer to Growth Mindset statements, displaying Growth Mindset vocabulary, and of course, modelling a Growth Mindset. All these examples can assist students in changing their thinking and their approach to learning.

Next time you are in your child's classroom, look out for the Growth Mindset displays. You will see statements like:

  • Instead of thinking I’m not good at this try thinking what am I missing?

  • Instead of thinking this is too hard try thinking this may take some time and effort.

  • Instead of thinking I made a mistake try thinking mistakes help me to learn better.

  • Instead of thinking it’s good enough try thinking is it really my best work.

  • Instead of thinking plan ‘A’ didn’t work try thinking good thing the alphabet has 25 more letters.

Another important strategy for teachers in developing a Growth Mindset is by giving feedback. Feedback is also an integral part of the Visible Learning approach that we, as a school, are committed to. Feedback has an effect size of 0.70. Remember last article, 0.40 is effect size that we can expect from a year’s schooling. Therefore, a score higher than this can only have a positive impact on learning.

Feedback needs to be given with consideration though. Teachers and parents alike need to ensure that praise is being given in a meaningful and purposeful way.

At Emmanuel, we want to see every student become the best version of themselves as possible.

Unfortunately, some people provide feedback that centres on effort and praising effort and believe that they are promoting a Growth Mindset. Sadly, this is what Carol Dweck refers to as a ‘False Growth Mindset’. Learning requires more than just effort. Effort is a single part of a larger process. This process involves a variety of factors, hard work, perseverance, multiple strategies, collaboration, and focus, to name a few.

Feedback needs to be given with ‘where to next’ in mind. Students need to understand where they currently are in the learning process and what they can do to take themselves to the next level.  At Emmanuel, we want to see every student become the best version of themselves as possible. Growth Mindset is a journey and needs to be encouraged at both home and school. Students engaging with a Growth Mindset will help them achieve success in their lives.

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Drew Roberts - Deputy Principal

iGeneration: A balancing act

I’ve always been interested in the identification of distinct generations by social scientists. I am a 1964 birth, which is on the tail end of the Baby Boomers and the beginning of the rise of Gen X. I identify with traits from both.

Baby Boomers were linked to post WW2 baby boom and grew up in a time of social change; Woodstock, the Vietnam War, civil rights and equal pay for women, the first man walking on the moon and television. They hold the view that the world will improve with time; they’re active and physically fit; believe themselves to be a special generation.

Generation X occurred with the decline of births following the contraceptive pill being released. They often had both parents working, or were bought up with a single parent; Latch-Key children. Divorce was commonplace. They grew up with the energy crisis and saw the Berlin wall come down. Computers became more commonplace. They’re less likely to marry young, quicker to divorce. Have more than one career in their lifetime and generally live with debt.

All very interesting and of course then there’s Gen Y or Millenials as they are also known. They were shaped by 9/11, the rise of Terrorism, the Great Recession and the huge increase of the internet and social media. They’re more likely to live at home longer and launch their ‘lives’ later. They’re also the generation of my own children.

What I’d like to look at in more detail is the current generation of school–aged children that are being identified today. The iGeneration or Generation Z.


This generation have been so named because they have grown up in a hyper-connected world where social media and screens are the norm. They are aware of conflict around the world, and of a planet in natural crisis. Considered to be those born around the late 1990’s to present day. 

I don’t in any way want to be an alarmist, but I have been reading a few articles and listening to podcasts talking about the negative effects this reliance on iPhones can have on this young generation. There is a TED talk by Jean Twenge where she outlines some of these. She identifies a rise in negative characteristics of this iPhone reliant generation. They are less likely to go out without their parents, more likely to feel isolated, feel left out and lonely. More likely to feel they can’t do anything right or useful. There has also been an alarming rise in mental health disorders. They don’t sleep enough and are twice as likely to be unhappy. 

She ends her lecture asking people not to give up their phones, but encouraging people to put their phones down and go live their life. Go for a walk, run, swim, watch a sunset, sleep, interact with friends seeing the expressions on their faces and tone in their voice, hug and be hugged.

Let your phone be a tool you use, not one that uses you.
— Jean Twenge

I also opened a couple of educational magazines sitting on the staffroom table, to see if they had anything to say about this subject. In the March issue of Nurture I found an article written by Chris Parker entitled Connection requires conversation: parenting in a digital age in which he looks at the need for rich connection, authentic connection, empathetic connection, which requires conversation. He asks the question; …have the dazzle and demands of our digital communication technologies distracted us from the dialogue that trains us to listen, develop empathy, and grow in confidence that we can both listen and be heard?

The other magazine I perused, March Education Review, had a few relevant articles. One cited that a Canadian study has shown that screen time can delay development. When young children are observing screens, they may be missing important opportunities to practise and master interpersonal, motor and communication skills. It also contained an article by Loren Smith called, Screen it Out. This article looked at lots of differing opinions on screen time effects but generally all agreed that 1. Digital mediums can be used positively and 2. It’s when they’re used in excess that problems arise. It encouraged parents to ensure that children have opportunities to explore the physical world around them, that they have opportunities to have interactions with other humans, and so on. This article made me beam with pride at the work of our Kinder Teacher, Amanda Sargent and the Kathy Walker program she runs in our Kinder space. Children interacting with the physical world. I am also excited about Nature Play Professional Development we are all going to in a fortnight, where we’ll be encouraged to take all our students outside and immerse them in, and teach them from, nature. 

It encouraged parents to ensure that children have opportunities to explore the physical world.

So, the iGeneration; our young students saturated with digital technology, yet living in a physically wondrous and socially interactive world, that they need to be guided and taught to interact with. Such an exciting and challenging balancing task ahead of us all. 

Annie Joy - Primary Coordinatior

Daily Bread

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
— John 6:35
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When I was at University, I was introduced to the work of an American psychologist, Abraham Maslow. He did a lot of work around human needs and growth and the development of individuals. He had a five-point hierarchy of needs, which has been developed by others over time to become seven or eight. The current eight-point scale is biological and physiological needs, safety needs, love and belongingness needs; esteem needs; cognitive needs, aesthetic needs, self-actualization needs, and Transcendence needs.

To a certain extent, they make sense. From where I stand, as principal of a growing Christian school, Maslow and his contemporaries have deliberately missed a critical part to the hierarchy of needs. Maslow, along with many psychologists, did not think religion had any role in human development. Work has been done by people who can show clear links to the needs hierarchy and biblical teaching.

While reading further into this area I came across this story.

“Immediately after World War II the allied armies gathered up many hungry, homeless children and placed them in large camps. There the children were abundantly fed and cared for. However, at night they did not sleep well. They seemed restless and afraid.

Finally, a psychologist hit on a solution. After the children were put to bed, they each received a slice of bread to hold. If they wanted more to eat, more was provided, but this particular slice was not to be eaten—it was just to hold.

The slice of bread produced marvellous results. The child would go to sleep, subconsciously feeling it would have something to eat tomorrow. That assurance gave the child a calm and peaceful rest.”

Jesus Christ describes himself as the bread of life. He knows, as do all of us who know Jesus personally, that life is more than facts and figures. Education is critically important. The provision of needs is important. When we miss the most important need, which is the security of eternal life and an ongoing relationship with God in the ‘here and now’, we miss the foundations upon which to build a life. This sets the lens for education. Jesus is not just the lens but the heart of education at Emmanuel Christian School.

Scott Winkler - Principal