Once a year our students’ study into community, economic and governance systems culminates in BIStopia, a week where the BIStopia government makes laws, the post office send letters, the hospital and emergency services of BIS rescue those in need and…the BISmark (our currency) rules supreme as our budding entrepreneurs set up shops and sell their wares. Cookies, peg dolls, hairdressing and book shops are just some of the few shops from the past, made by the children with passion and vision.
It is a really remarkable event and great to take part in. If you would like to come along and shop please book in to attend by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
When: Monday June 15 – Friday June 19
Time: 12:30 – 3:00pm
I started at BIS when I was 7 years old, when my family moved to Brisbane. When I was around 10 or 11 I left BIS to go to a state school, but after about a year realised it wasn’t for me. I moved back to BIS in 2002 to finish off primary school and graduated in 2003. I went to Indooroopilly State High, where I was school captain in 2008 and was involved in their musicals, bands and debating competitions.
Once graduated, I moved to Melbourne to study journalism at RMIT University, which is regarded as one of the best courses for journalism in Australia. While there, I became heavily involved with youth community radio station SYN, voluntarily producing their youth current affairs show for all of 2011. Over the past three years I have worked at The Age newspaper, ABC local radio, Hack on triple j and community radio station Triple R.
After half a year of travelling around Europe and the US last year, I’ve just started a postgraduate law degree at Monash University in 2014, which is tough but very rewarding.
At BIS I learned that there is more to know than what you’re taught and to independently seek out information about your interests. BIS helped give me the motivation to challenge myself through learning, which is part of the reason I decided to start a law degree at 23.
The strong sense of social justice and civic engagement I have, I believe, comes partially from my time at BIS. All of the students at BIS have a voice. All are able to direct their learning and have a say in the way the school works and I believe this has made me more engaged with politics and societal institutions.
There is a near constant stream of scary concepts floating through adult conversation at the moment. Newspaper headlines, updates
on television and overheard discussions mean that some children are more focused than others and these topics end up in children’s conversation. The inherent anxiety the Ebola crisis created is definitely present in many of the older students’ minds and conversations, and at other times the terrible tragedies in Syria, France and Sydney have also surfaced. It is therefore worthwhile covering a few major points when dealing with these issues:
Wait until they are developmentally ready
Developmental readiness isn’t age dependent, it is about their perception of the world. You could, however, use under eight as a benchmark for not telling them about topics that might scare them. It is really important for you to work out the developmental level of your child. For example, when a child has a perspective on the world where they can only see through first-person perspective it means that they don’t understand the distinction of things happening “in another country”. They find it easy to get in a panic when you disappear for too long at home because maybe you have disappeared, and they find masks disconcerting because maybe, just maybe it is not you under the mask. This developmental level cannot
logically reason through the fear. If they have already been exposed to scary imagery like “Ebola is going to get us!” you need to address it practically, such as talking about the security guards at the airport as the “gatekeepers keeping us safe” even if that is not really true. They see the world as good and bad, right and wrong.
Keep it in dualistic world of “right and wrong”
If your young child (5-8, and sometimes older children depending on development) has found out about the scary topic it is really important that you don’t use reasoning that expects them to see the “grey” in the issue. They just need to know that there are good guys and bad guys and the good guys will win. If you try and help them understand all sides they will not feel safe. The same goes for probability: if you say “well there is only a really slight chance you could catch Ebola” that slight chance is what they will focus upon. Young children still think that maybe dragons could be real. This is not a developmental stage to discuss “possibilities”. Be definite.
For the older children (upper primary) who are moving into solid systems thinking, you can use reason to help them get their heads around the system
s that will keep us safe, and how they work for or against us. Reassure them there is still certainty in the systems themselves. They are still not at a place for you to cast doubt on the system— otherwise you are taking away their solid ground for reasoning. Wait until they are older.
Ask them questions
It is easy to assume that they are not thinking about things or that they see it the way you do—don’t assume. Ask them questions to gauge where they are at. “What have you heard about…?” “What are you thinking about…?” I asked some of these questions recently and found some Dolphins (upper primary) thought that Ebola was carried through the
air! They will hear snippets of information that could be completely untrue but you can be guaranteed that the scariest and most frightening version is what they will keep in their heads.
Validate their feelings
If they say they are scared, don’t say “don’t be silly” or “don’t be scared” as it will just shut them down. They need to know that they can share their craziest feelings with you and you will hear them and help them work through it. You don’t need to be scared with them, you just need to say, “It’s okay to feel scared, let’s work out how you can feel safer.” They will often mirror your feelings so you need to stay calm about these things so that they can mirror that response.
One of the most important things is to be across these topics
if your kids need to talk about them. Do your own research through credible sources. You can use these discussions to see how to help people locally who connect with the concept. You can learn about another country and find places on maps. These news stories can be great opportunities to open conversation about new ways of looking at the world; just tread carefully and consider all the former points when doing it. Also please tell your child’s teacher if your child is really chatty about this issue and remind your child that other children do not need to talk about it with them as the other children may get scared or worried. It is best for them to seek out an adult when talking about such topics.
Explore the nature of Self Directed Learning through the prism of developmental theory and your own experience. This lecture and little bit of self exploration looks at how developmental theory and social and emotional learning interlock in the process of developing self direction in the unfolding human being that is your child. Jen Haynes – BIS Principal is the presenter
When : May 13 @ 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Where : Brisbane Independent School – 2447 Moggil Rd Pullenvale
Term 1 is a focus upon the self, how we understand ourselves and connect to others. Pet Day and Toy day are key parts of this as they allow the children to express themselves but also connect with their classmates. The development of the individual and supporting them in developing the ways that they can share themselves safely with others is a core part of our tripartite curriculum.
This year, with your increased numbers we had to change the format a bit and have our presentation in class rather than as a whole school. Students without pets bought in soft toys or photos and everyone got to have a hold or a cuddle of each other’s pets. Oli’s snake was one of the highlights, Mesmo’s cuddles were a little too scary for Jen the Principal who spent the day with the snake’s cage behind her desk. “I am quite scared of snakes but I had to stroke Mesmo because she just means so much to Oli, but I am really glad she has gone home.”
Focus days are an important part of life at BIS and we love having special days like Toy Day, Bike Day and Pyjama Day. Bike day is such an important event that the State Government has given us $1200 to spend on signage and transport training materials. By listening to the kid’s passions and interests we try and balance the practical need to get through a range of Federal Curriculum outcomes with those of the student’s and the BIS community.
Up until early this year the Goey family (Grace, Ronan and parents Kelly and Paul) lived in a wonderful community in Toowong, where the children freely played in the street with neighbouring children. Kelly and Paul felt incredibly lucky to have found a street with like-minded folk with young kids of their own. Like many BIS parents, the Goeys have juggled family aspirations with significant career demands (Paul lends his construction expertise on a fly-in fly-out basis out in the Pilbara in Western Australia and Kelly runs a busy Spring Hill cafe with her sister). The Goeys had an open mind when planning for Grace and Ronan’s education and visited BIS several years ago, ultimately opting to enrol in the local state school.
Says Kelly, “The year was incredibly tough for all of us—I watched my little girl’s confidence in her own brain and ability erode, and in hindsight, my own confidence as a parent was diminished also. We visited speech therapists, podiatrists and occupational therapists, with recommendations of more specialists, and endured telephone calls throughout the year from the guidance counsellor asking what we were doing about Grace. I dreaded drop off and pick up and steadily avoided eye contact with her teacher for fear of yet more negative feedback… and then I finally remembered what was important to me and my family.”
Kelly’s story is similar to many BIS families.
Principal Jen Haynes says, “Sadly, the Goeys’ story is quite common. The State School system has made a lot of progress in recent years and it certainly works for a lot of kids but we do get a good deal of interest from families looking for a framework that allows children to be individuals, that doesn’t try to put them in lock-step formation, and that is more attentive to the unique quirks and learning pathways that all children have.”
For Kelly, the first day at BIS was like coming home. She says, “I felt so relaxed and excited for the kids, saw the spark of recognition amongst the parents. We want them to flourish in their wonderful discovery of self, that we want them to be supported to embrace all that they are… including the tricky stuff! It was in such contrast to the first day at Prep last year, as we put Grace into her too-big uniform and chunky no-climbing-in-these shoes, dutifully restrained her hair and joined the group of parents entering the classroom all looking as scared as if it was our first day of school all over again.”
Kelly has watched Grace slowly settling into herself at BIS and letting go of the stress. She is grateful that Roman has the benefit of knowing no different, having started Prep at BIS. And Kelly herself is slowly settling back into herself and letting go of the stress. “We made the decision over Christmas to move closer to the school and so, left our beloved community and rented out our house in Toowong. I really didn’t know how all of that was going to feel… but as with a decision that is right the whole move to BIS has just kept feeling more right as the weeks roll on. Last Friday morning, over breakfast Grace was busying herself with something, when we got to the car she showed me the “Best Teacher In The World” badge she made for Tim.”
Kelly advises parents sending their kids to Prep at other schools to trust themselves and to ask questions and be proactive. “If you can develop a relationship with your child’s teacher that will allow some space for your child, then do it. If you can’t, seek an alternative. You will never regret putting your child first.”
After twenty years of being a teensy weensy school 2014 has swollen to a marvellous 59 students. To support this increase (we are aiming for 75 by 2017) we have increased our staffing so that we have a teacher aide in each classroom. This means that our teaching and learning has even more depth for our students as there are some great opportunities for the multi-age groups to both be supported and extended as needed. As part of this we would like to welcome some staff:
Richelle Robertson – Richelle comes to us with many years of teaching experience in varied settings around Qld within the state system. She has jumped into the BIS system with enthusiasm after volunteering last year for a day per week. Richelle is working with the Penguins.
Caroline Gray – Caroline has come all the way form England to work at BIS. She found us last year and saw in BIS her dream school. After an enormous amount of passion and trust she moved herself and her daughter to Brisbane in a two week period to start working here on the first day of school. She is the teacher aide for the Penguins.
Andrew Rowlands – Andrew has had a varied career in the service industries but realised, on becoming a Dad that working with kids was his calling and has started studying education. He has his own small children but seems to have limitless patience as he is always so calm with the BIG cats (and with Tim) who he works with.
Kay Ward – With years of teaching under her belt, we are very lucky to have Kay join our community as a teacher aide. Her experience gives her the perfect insights to be working with the Dolphin crew alongside Linda (who started teaching last year).
Kirsten Hartel – a new graduate with lots of enthusiasm Kirsten is teaching Spanish on Mondays and sharing with Linda teaching the Dolphins on Thursday and Friday. Kirsten has her German upbringing and her love of Spanish to keep our linguistically interested kids on their toes.
Welcome to you all!
Come Join Us On our Annual Open Day!
From: 10:00 – To: 02:00
Brisbane Independent School
Advocating for your Child in Prep. Free Talk by Jen Haynes, BIS Principal
From: 10:00 – To: 11:00
Brisbane Independent School
This year’s AGM took on special significance with current parents and life members passing a resolution to adopt a new constitution—one that will give the school the means to thrive in the 21st century, with a governance model that is more supportive of the principal in a strong leadership role.
Some other changes include opening the Board to members external to the school community and increasing the term of Board members from one to two years, with the aim of broadening the range of experience and skill on the Board, as well as providing more stability and continuity to the school.
The existing president Maelle Farquhar, secretary Liz Gear, and treasurer Glen Holmes were re-elected to the same positions. The Board also welcomed new external members Anthony Element and Erin Evans. Both of them bring an extensive knowledge in organisational strategy that will assist the Board in developing a strong vision and strategy for the future.