At BIS we know that a child’s love of both their body and mind is what keeps them active in the world. You would think this was a simple goal but school sports often tell kids that failure to be the best means that their physical self is not okay. They lose confidence to be physically active in the group for fear of this judgement which soon seems them stop trying at all and they retreat into the safety of watching not playing.
The baleful cries against the indolence and laziness of teenagers has been a consistent complaint in all educational environments in the last 20 years. A study found that 70% of children drop out of sports activity during their adolescence . As home computers and gaming became a ubiquitous part of children’s lives educators and parents watched with concern as they simultaneously spent less time in nature doing active play that taught them the parameters of their body. This combination of inactivity produces children who are closed off from their physical selves.
The challenge to this belief that technology equals idleness is that not all children go down this path. Many kids still play sport, climb mountains, ride bikes and challenge themselves to dance or master the techniques of a martial art. Why do some continue to be active and others not?
An important study from George Washington University in the US found that children could easily identify the reason they liked or did not like doing sport: fun .
The list below highlights some of the findings that the children in the study shared and it gives us some really powerful advice. A child’s definition of fun is complex and about learning to love the interaction of body and mind working together. Their connection to their friends and the team is fundamental—they need to trust in their team to take risks and have fun.
- Trying your best
- When the coach treats the player with respect
- Getting to play on the field
- Playing well as a team
- Playing tournaments
- Getting pictures taken
The full list available at Project Play
(The Project Play website has some wonderful resources for parents and teachers to help us make sure that we keep children connected to their bodies and engaged)
At BIS we have used these findings as a basis for our sports program. Our kids engage in yoga, jiu jitsu, and morning personal HPE goals. We design our grounds to give them the chance to explore their physical risk levels with climbing, jumping and balancing challenges. We want them to know that they are both their body and mind. A few weeks ago as we held our annual Olympics I watched with joy as it showed the effectiveness of our strategy.
Our children prepare for the Olympics for the term before, practicing various sports and team skills to feel confident in participating on the day. We also formed the kids into houses for the sole purpose of letting them practice making war cries and to e
xperience the notion of belonging to a house. We only had 2 (very fun activities) that were team against team. We also offered competitive races for the children who were hungry for this opportunity. This is usually a focus for the Dolphins class, who are at the stage where they love trying to use their skills to win.
The focus remains, always, on fun and participation.
On the day I watched and helped ease the children into giving it a go. The children who had recently arrived from other schools were the ones who found this the hardest. They had all been teased for not succeeding at sport—the notion of having fun was absent from the conversation. There were many discussions and hugs that afternoon to reassure them, with the help of their classmates, that no one would judge them and no one would yell at them for making a mistake. These children had experienced so much judgement at their previous schools for not being “good” at sport that they had removed themselves entirely from that risk. They had learnt far too early that their bodies were not okay, and would not give them what they needed. They had learnt to stop trusting it and to stop loving it. It was a huge journey for them.
After 12 activities the children were covered in their multicoloured participation ribbons and all laughing and smiling. The final event was the cross country, an event that they could all choose to participate in or not. Those who had started the day with fear didn’t even hesitate. They decided to give it a go with a lot of laughter and passion.
The moment that I knew our model was just right occurred near the end of this event. I saw one of my students curled up near the slippery slide, crying. I raced over and asked her what was wrong. This little sprite was a prolific writer, gifted and academic, who tried to sneak into the classroom to write or read at every possible opportunity. When she first came to us, crippled with anxiety, she was fearful of taking her shoes off, let alone running.
She told me how she was running and suddenly got this pain, not like a stitch but something else. I held her hand while she steadied her breath and I told her she had done the right thing to stop because her body knew when to tell her to have a break. I suggested that maybe since she didn’t run much it was just a bit spooked, and needed some more practice. As her breath steadied, she told me her pain was gone. She added, “maybe I could run around my park a few times a week over the next year and then my heart would be used to it so I could just run and run.”
I held her hand, swallowed my tears and nodded agreement. She smiled and ran off to join her friends. I sat with the pride I felt over the opportunity we had given her to experience the freedom to love her physical body. A love she had gained to match the love she had for her mind.
This had changed her life trajectory. She knew her body and mind were one, were her, and she loved them both.
Not much to ask from your childhood really. I love BIS!
 Eitzen DS, Sage GH. Sociology of North American Sport. 8. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers; 2009.
 Visek, Amanda J., et al. “The fun integration theory: towards sustaining children and adolescents sport participation.” Journal of Physical Activity & Health 12.3 (2015): 424.
We are very excited to welcome a new staff member to BIS. Sally is going to be the new Penguins’ teacher as Richelle moves into the lead teacher role for our new Otters group. Sally has already thrown herself into the philosophy, helping out with our new Literacy direction.
Sally graduated from the Queensland University of Technology in 2005 with a Bachelor of Education (Primary). After teaching out west in St George for four years, Sally decided to move to the UK “for a year”, working as a guaranteed supply teacher in London schools. Well and truly bitten by the travel bug, the year turned into two, and soon Sally found herself with a soon-to-be-expired UK Visa, and no desire to return to Australia just yet! As such, she found a job as an ESL teacher for children at a school in Budapest. After a year of only teaching English, she craved the primary classroom again, and luckily secured a position in the Early Years at the British International School, Budapest. The Early Years team at BISB was inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to education, resulting in Sally’s attendance at a study week in the town of Reggio Emilia in 2015.
After returning home at the end of 2015, Sally was teaching at a state school in north Brisbane, and immediately found herself disheartened by many of the changes that had occurred in the Australian Education system during her time overseas. So when the opportunity to teach at BIS arose, Sally was very eager to apply, and thrilled to be offered the position. She believes that schools must offer learning experiences to students that are meaningful, motivating and challenging, and which respond not only to the Curriculum, but – most importantly – to each child’s needs and interests, and those of the class as a cohort. Sally is looking forward to the opportunity to further her teaching practice through learning about and implementing the Integral framework at BIS. She is very excited to be a part of the BIS community.
Q&A to get to know you better
What is your most exciting memory?
I am very lucky to have had many amazing experiences in my life, leading to many treasured memories. One such memory is when I travelled to Tromso in Northern Norway with a group of friends to see the Northern Lights. Having already failed to catch the lights on a previous trip to Iceland, I was so overwhelmed when we finally saw them dancing across the sky – I was so lucky to be witnessing this natural phenomenon in an amazing part of the world, surrounded by some of my favourite people!
Another treasured moment is when I arrived home late last year, arriving from London with my brother and sister-in-law and their baby to surprise my parents… they were so happy to have their whole family together again after many years, and to meet their grandson!
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Not to sound like Aretha Franklin, but I think we need more respect in the world. An increase in the amount of respect that everyone has for themselves, other people and the environment would lead to more harmony and happiness… and I think this comes through education, and being life-long learners.
Imagine you are part of a pioneering crew setting up a colony on Mars. You can only take one 5 personal items with you as space is limited, what would you take?
- A pencil and paper/book
- A harmonica (not that I can play one, but i’d learn beforehand)
- Ugg boots
- A tub of Lucas’ Pawpaw ointment
- A camera (solar powered, obviously)
What is your favourite song/artwork/dance/movie or book?
- WAY too many to name just one.
Thanks for sharing a bit about yourself with us Sally! Welcome to BIS.
This is a great lecture and discussion for Parents, Educators and anyone who wants to learn about how Staged Development works. Principal Jennifer Haynes takes you on the journey of Kohlberg’s Moral Development framework and how it applies in everyday interactions at home and in the classroom. You will come away feeling much more confident about how your child’s behaviour is unfolding and an awareness of your own journey. To book please email email@example.com $20 per person, Free for BIS current and future families.
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
From: 18:00 – To: 19:30
Brisbane Independent School Library
With concerned parents seeing a drop in their young children’s enthusiasm for schooling and a spike in anxiety, the internet is abuzz with the question, “Is formal schooling stressing out our Prep children?” This concern has led to a study by the Queensland Government investigating the age appropriateness of the curriculum and pedagogy that mainstream schools are using.
The inappropriateness of the standard curriculum has been clear to us at BIS for the last 4 years as we have watched tiny children come to us showing terrible signs of anxiety after only one year of mainstream schooling. A five year old is completely attuned in their body and mind to the concrete, physical world around them, to their senses giving them direct feedback and their body moving in response. A five year old is supposed to wriggle, move, laugh, talk and run the gamut of emotions as they build a strong and powerful sense of self in the world around them. Making a five year old sit still and silent at a desk is making that child live in their mind not their body, and the mind of a five year old can be a scary place because they still believe in monsters, magic, and mystery around every corner. That little mind, when taken away from the sensory world of feeling and exploring, will make up scary stories and answers that build anxiety and fear of the world around them. In the mainstream search for early academic outcomes they are building silent, compliant, terrified and disconnected children who are trained out of their natural bravery and into a world of fear.
So what can you do? Amy Cox, is so concerned about what is happening to our little children that she has started a lobby group called Protecting Childhood. This organisation, can be found on Facebook Www.facebook.com/protectingchildhoodAER or by visiting their website www.protectingchildhood.org is determined to raise awareness of the plight of our prep-age children by petitioning government to change their policy and bring back play-based learning for Prep. You can help by visiting the site and signing their petition http://bit.ly/1XDSx87 that already has over 5000 signatures from concerned Queensland citizens. If you want to do something more direct, you can write to your local member, the Education Minister Kate Jones and the Premier to tell your stories and to remind them that Parents want their children to love, not fear, schooling. The time is now for the parents of Queensland to stop saying “maybe it will be better next year” and instead demand a schooling system that will make them proud right now, to say “My child is thriving!”. If you want to know more about this topic or see a school that is doing high quality, evidence based education that nurtures the creative and academic mind, come and visit us at bis.qld.edu.au to find our next talk on childhood development and how education should be incorporating it.
Don’t just wait and hope, make a better choice today.
Jen Haynes – Principal
Join BIS Principal Jen on Wednesday for a tour of the grounds and in the classrooms whilst they’re in session. Then enjoy tea, coffee and cake whilst she takes you through our philosophy and curriculum. To book your place email firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, September 7, 2016. Please RSVP so we know if to wait for you to come!
From: 10:00 – To: 12:00. If you hope to have a chat with Jen about your specific circumstances please book a private interview through our enrolment officer for a date after the tour.
Brisbane Independent School, 2447 Moggill Road, Pullenvale 4069. Just follow the path from the carpark up to the Office and we will show you where the tour begins.
Self Directed Learning (SDL) is a core part of everyone’s Lifelong learning journey. Principal Jen would like to share the BIS model of SDL that aligns the 7 Characteristics of Self Direction with developing skills in social and emotional learning. Come along and learn about this new model. Handouts and tea/coffee are provided.
- $15 per adult. $10 students or concession to pay at door.
- Free to BIS Current and Future Families
August 5, 2016 – please RSVP via School Stream for BIS families and for visitors via email@example.com
9:00 am – 10:30
Brisbane Independent School, 2447 Moggill Road, Pullenvale 4069. Just follow the path from the car park up to the Office and our Admin staff will direct you to the venue. .
Every year BIS, as an Incorporated Association, has an AGM. It is always a great opportunity to celebrate our growth and elect Life Members, awarded to people who have gone far beyond the normal “Call of Duty”. This AGM had both the celebration of electing Chairperson Maelle Farquhar as a life member and the sadness of having her resign as Chairperson of the BIS Board, as she and her family had decided to return to France for a time.
Maelle’s impact on BIS and its future is hard to overstate. When she first took on the Chair role, the school faced some challenges:
- The board, and therefore the school had becoming somewhat inward looking; and
- The Board lacked a clear direction and strategy for the school.
Today, thanks to Maelle’s clear thinking, strong leadership and a huge slice of her time, all these issues have been addressed.
Maelle conceived and implemented a plan to change the structure of the BIS board from being entirely made up of parents to being a fifty/fifty mix of parents and board members drawn from the broader community who brought specific skills and experience that she saw were lacking.
This restructured and revitalised board has developed and is implementing clear, short and long term strategic goals that will ensure the school’s continued, healthy growth while remaining fully consistent with the school’s philosophy and core values.
Careful financial analysis and management together with growing our student numbers, has put us into a position to enact our future vision. Maelle also established a successful succession policy ready for a vibrant change over of Chairperson to continue implementing this new vision.
At the AGM, Anthony Element OAM, the first of the external board members to be elected to the board, in 2012, was elected to replace Maelle as Chairperson. His objective is to – as seamlessly as possible – lead the board in continuing the work that Maelle so ably began.
Exciting times ahead.
On 23 August 2015, six Brisbane Independent School (BIS) students competed in a team challenge at the annual Brisbane West Opti-MINDS challenge along with more than 20 other schools at St Peter’s Lutheran College and were awarded the “Spirit of Opti-MINDS” award.
The Opti-MINDS Creative Sustainability Challenge is an inclusive team challenge which EMPOWERS participants to THINK, CREATE & COMMUNICATE. Opti-MINDS is a creative problem solving event for teams of participants from Preschool to Adult within 4 divisions.
This is the first time BIS has participated in Opti-MINDS for more than 12 years. Their student team had to respond to a social sciences question about a utopian community in the future and decide how members were selected – this all had to happen through their own team work and ideas.
The students had to write the script alone. All costumes and props were their own design and had to fit in a $50 budget – everything was priced, even the bamboo from the garden!
The teams also had a spontaneous challenge on the day to response to where they were graded on their collaboration and evidence of team spirit.
“The students worked hard in the 4 weeks leading up to the day to create a delightful response to the challenge question” says BIS Principal and Teacher, Jen Haynes.
The team showed such strong teamwork and collaboration that they were given the Spirit of Opti-MINDS award by the judges, an extraordinary feat for a group in their first year.
As a school with 50 years of progressive vision for education the award demonstrates how the BIS philosophy and curriculum of child empowerment and integrative thinking creates the critical and creative thinking, personal and social capability, ethical understanding and general capabilities of students which is so important to the future of education in Australia.
“I was absolutely overwhelmed by the BIS team’s capacity to create and complete a project alone to such a high standard and then to perform it in front of strangers with such confidence and skill” says Jen.
“I know groups of adults who could not have done it. I cannot wait to see what their performance will be like next year now that they know what to expect.”
The school was honoured to have Pullenvale Ward Councillor Margaret de Wit present the certificate to the Opti-MINDS team at their school meeting on 14 September.
BIS hopes to have two teams compete in Opti-MINDS next year.
Did you know that less than 100 years ago Jean Paul Sartre (1964 Nobel Prize winner for Literature) and Simone De Beauvoir (writer, social theorist, existentialist philosopher) both competed to become teachers?
The teaching profession was held in such high esteem it was a natural progression for an academic to get a job in a school whilst working on their theories. Back then, it was the job for a life-long learner and a professional thinker.
Fast forward 100 years and you will find that at BIS “life-long learning” and “professional thinkers” remain common mantras.
“Teaching, educating and assisting in the development of the next generation of leaders is something BIS takes very seriously” explains BIS Principal and Teacher, Jen Haynes.
“We expect our teachers to be of the highest standard: Gold Standard.”
BIS teachers engage in fortnightly and monthly training sessions in Compassionate Classroom practise and in applying the Integral AQAL model.
The team is dynamic and utilises the collegial culture to problem solve together, share resources and provide feedback and encouragement on individual and team innovations.
BIS’ innovative teaching model is a key part of the pedagogy (method and practice of teaching). The pillars for this are the “7 Keys for an Integrative Classroom” developed by the BIS teaching team. These keys are:
Key I: The Responsive Learning Environment
Key II: Relaxation And Tension Reduction
Key III: Movement And Physical Encoding
Key IV: Empowering Language And Behaviour
Key V: Choice And Perceived Control
Key VI: Complex And Challenging Cognitive Activity
Key VII: Intuition And Integration
BIS teachers are working with Independent Schools Queensland to develop research programs that harness this classroom practice to improve student self-development outcomes.
“To be a better teacher and implement new strategies you have to research, plan and think” says Jen.
“BIS teachers will be spending time observing each other’s practises to further develop the existing collegial culture”.
This research process is all part of the school’s commitment to have all teachers exhibiting Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher status on all the Australian Professional Standards for teachers. (Insert link: http://www.aitsl.edu.au/australian-professional-standards-for-teachers)
The BIS pedagogy and philosophy demands a high standard of personal and professional development from staff, this process allows the teaching team to benchmark themselves against external measures.
“We have already identified the exceptional baseline standard our staff are at so this process will just be providing a final stamp on our existing accomplishments.” says Jen.
This model of teaching further cements the school’s philosophy of education for the purpose of developing a well grounded child who can develop into an adult capable of achieving his/her hopes and dreams.
When people view the BIS curriculum and see the depth of inner work we do with the children there is a tendency to make the assumption that our focus on wellbeing is a stand-alone goal, unconnected to academic outcomes.
This assumption doesn’t tell the full story of what we aim for at BIS. We teach these skills at BIS because research suggests that they lead to life success, and contribute to good learning outcomes for academic success. Whilst “academic success” is different for each child, it maximises the opportunity for a child to realise their dreams. Because of our Integral perspective we have combined these theories of education into one pedagogical model and one curriculum to best serve this outcome.
However, people are commonly confused by this Integral approach, assuming that the primary goal of meditation and relaxation in our curriculum is focused on helping children feel safe and comfortable. Popular media touts the benefits of relaxation and mindfulness but educational research in this area has been ongoing since the 1970s. Benson, Wilcher, Greenberg, Huggins, Ennis, Zuttermeister, Myers and Friedman (2000) outline the benefits of a richly incorporated relaxation program, showing significant increases in student academic performance:
Students who had more than two exposures to semester long classes in which teachers had been trained…had higher grade point averages, work habit scores and cooperation scores than students who had two or fewer exposures. In addition, students who had more exposures to the relaxation response curriculum showed an improvement in academic scores over the course of the 2-year period (Benson, et al., 2000, p. 156).
When people consider the span of our social and emotional curriculum they might perceive us as a school that is focused upon children’s self-esteem and social skills. Research into Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) has been performed with a range of meta studies investigating outcomes. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning group is one of the world leaders in this area, with a range of studies that reveal distinct academic outcomes across grades (Payton, Weissberg, Durlak, Dymnicki, & Taylor, 2008). The importance of relatedness to significant others in the school environment (parents, teachers, and friends) for students in grades 3 to 6 is key to their long term academic performance and their completion of school (Furrer & Skinner, 2003). It teaches them resilience; to be courageous in their learning; and to persist when faced with obstacles.
SEL programs improved students’ social-emotional skills, attitudes about self and others, connection to school, positive social behavior, and academic performance; they also reduced students’ conduct problems and emotional distress. Comparing results from these reviews to findings obtained in reviews of interventions by other research teams suggests that SEL programs are among the most successful youth-development programs offered to school-age youth (Payton, Weissberg, Durlak, Dymnicki, & Taylor, 2008).
Newcomers to BIS might see “self-direction” and think that we are all about children being independent learners. When we explore the link between self-direction and academic outcomes we need only peruse the literature that discusses the interconnectedness between a child’s self-esteem, self-efficacy and self-regulation for a clear understanding of the connection. Self-directed learning allows students to increase their motivation and sense of competence by teaching them how to think about their thinking (metacognition) and develop the emotional and cognitive structures to be resilient when confronted by challenges.
The evolutionary value of this kind of motivation is obvious: Any species that dedicates time and energy to learning how to be effective will eventually develop a rich action repertoire as well as knowledge about opportunities and constraints in the environment. In times of trouble, this “competence” is key to both surviving and thriving (Skinner & Greene, 2008, p. 122).
So next time you consider the diverse nature of our curriculum remember that academic achievement sits at the core, for every child deserves the chance to achieve their dreams. The best way to ensure this happens is by valuing each child’s emotional and cognitive developmental journey.
Benson, H., Wilcher, M., Greenberg, B., Huggins, E., Ennis, M., Zuttermeister, P., et al. (2000). Academic Performance Among Middle School Students After Exposure to a Relaxation Response Curriculum. Journal of Research and Development in Education , 33 (3), 156-165.
Furrer, C., & Skinner, E. (2003). Sense of Relatedness as a Factor in Children’s Academic Engagement and Performance. Journal of Educational Psychology , 95 (1), 148–162.
Payton, J., Weissberg, R. P., Durlak, J. A., Dymnicki, A. B., & Taylor, R. D. (2008). The positive impact of social and emotional learning for kindergarten to eighth-grade students: Findings from three scientific reviews. Illinois: Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.
Skinner, E., & Greene, T. (2008). Perceived Control, Coping, and Engagement. In T. L. Good, 21st Century Education: A Reference Handbook 1 (pp. 121-130). California: Sage.
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