Leaflet 27   27 August 2021
View this email in your browser
Proud of their Recorder Bags!


Children in Class 2 have been busy weaving colourful recorder bags and knitting cuddly stuffed animals.
       
They have also written their first poem together, as a class, about the transition from winter to spring:
The winter is freezing but beautiful  /  The trees are bare, icy and pale  /  But the spring brings warmth, flowers and joy.
HIGH SCHOOL OPEN DAY
Saturday 18 September 10h00 - 12h00
 
“What is unique about Waldorf Education in the High School?”  This and other questions will be tackled in our upcoming Open Day event on Saturday 18 September.  Please 'Save the Date'. 
---------------------------------------------------------

A G M Report-Back
Our 59th Annual General Meeting (held on Thursday night via Zoom) was attended by approximately 80 parents and staff. Portfolio reports were presented by the chairs of the various committees, and the meeting concluded with the formal election of the incoming Board of Trustees for 2021/22.  Please see the website HERE for the portfolio reports and full list of the trustees. 
A special item on the evening's agenda was a vote of thanks to Richard Cox for his decades of service as a trustee. Richard has stepped down as a trustee but will continue teaching in the high school. 
------------------------------------------------------
 
PEP Survey
Thank you to all parents who responded to the PEP Survey this past week.  The results are being evaluated and will be shared in the Leaflet next week.
__________________________________________________________________________

 Article based on the online talk for parents given on 18th August 2021 by Tine Bohm
Read the full article by Martyn Rawson: Assessment, A Waldorf Perspective. See link below.
Dear Parents,
As mentioned in last week's Leaflet  it is really only within the last hundred years that we have begun to ‘assess’ opportunities,  situations and human beings… Before that we only assessed taxes!
The word assess came to English via Old French and before that from Latin. The Latin root ‘assidere’ means ‘to sit beside’... This is interesting when seen in the light of our Waldorf approach to this topic.
As Waldorf Educators we hold, in our hearts and minds, the picture of the whole process of the developing young person, from birth to the age of 21.
Although we are not formally assessing preschool skills in our Kindergarten, the teachers closely observe the children in their care. Some of the areas that attract their keen attention are: the physical readiness, the development of imagination,  the ability to  to problem-solve and the quality of the child’s social interactions.
These elements are carefully observed as they lay the foundation for the quality of our doing, feeling and thinking for the rest of our lives. Or in other words: our effectiveness in the world, our ability for social interactions and cognitive learning. All these elements are developed and enhanced through the process of ‘free play’ consciously monitored by the kindergarten teachers.
At the other end of the scale we have young adults, our matric students, and here I would like to acknowledge the incredible results that our students have achieved, year after year, when at a suitable age they are exposed to  standardized, objective, external assessments.

 
* * *    
The question of assessment is usually threefold:
What do we assess for?
How do we assess?  
Who do we assess?

The ‘what’ is connected to facts; that which we can observe and measure (Body)
The ‘how’ refers  to the relationship between the learner and  the teacher (Soul)
And the ‘who’ indicates the person who is learning and developing (Spirit)

When we interact with another human being we realise that although the other person is similar to us in their humanity, they are at the same time completely unique; it would not be truthful, ‘fair’ or even ethical to compare, to standardize, or to generalize. We are all different, we are neurodiverse, we have varying learning styles and we are continually developing. The teachers work hard to take this into account in their teaching and try hard therefore to also take account of this in their assessment of the children.
Then there’s the aspect of time. We generally assess the past, that which has already happened. But assessment for us, as Waldorf teachers, very much involves getting a sense of what is ‘emerging’ in the child, in terms of skills, and capacities. We are looking towards the future of the child, and aiming to support the blooming of the child’s abilities - suitable to their age level.
As Waldorf trained teachers we are made aware that how we assess sends a message. It indicates the nature of the relationship between the assessee and the assessor. The quality of  an assessment depends on the quality of seeing, listening, and understanding. Interestingly enough, this is a concept that is now applied and worked with in the natural scientific world as well.
Questions to be asked are, according to Martyn Rawson: is the assessment respectful and caring? Is it felt to be distancing? Is it objectifying, as in thinking of the student as a statistic, or labelling, as in ‘weak’, ‘average’ or ‘good’ student?
Learning, and how it actually happens, is a complex process - it is something that transforms the whole human being and changes the way we are and how we act, how we think and how we feel. Therefore, in any assessment we see the need to be aware of the person we are assessing and to be open to indications of what he or she may become. We want to be careful not to limit that potential through our judgments and labels, which in essence are based on the past.

***
Having said all that, Waldorf Schools naturally need to find ways to meet external expectations regarding the achievements of children. Two of those reasons pertain in particular to parents:

1) Children and students need to feel part of their community and this includes getting the necessary qualifications for study, either towards a profession or at university.
2) Parents need to be assured that their children will leave school equipped for the next stage of learning, and they should feel reassured throughout the years of their child’s schooling. This, in a Waldorf School, involves regular parent/teacher conversations.

In Waldorf education we value and encourage personal achievement; at the same time we fully embrace a non-competitive approach to learning. We value solidarity - and spiritual equality.  We value learning from mistakes, and we try to model that as teachers. We value individual effort - despite the outcome. We also value the way people are - and not just how they are able to express themselves verbally.
Any assessment inevitably involves making judgments about what we value, about how we recognize quality, excellence, effort and engagement. How we value and reward performance sends a ‘moral’ message. This then permeates the pedagogical fabric of the environment that we are trying to create.
It is also clear to us that assessing only cognitive achievements lowers the value of everything else children do at school, and this is naturally a concern and something that we try to hold consciously.
Martyn Rawson says that as a society, the attainments that we praise and recognize,  the awards that we grant, the achievements that we celebrate - all these things have a moral effect that shapes the young people in our care.

 
* * *

So, what are the kinds of assessments we use in Waldorf education?
There are three main kinds that we make use of: ipsative, formative and summative assessments.
Summative Assessments are probably the kind that most of us who did not attend a Waldorf School are familiar with. They are assessments of the outcome of learning, which means measuring performance against standardized criteria. Examples of this type could be spelling, maths or science tests. In other words a collection of quantifiable data. We use this kind of assessment carefully for several reasons, many of which are to do with the values we hold dear. (See outline above)
We use Formative Assessments,  also called assessment for learning, or ‘continuous assessment’, which means that assessment happens throughout the teaching and learning process. These assessments are very useful for teachers in order to adjust and fine-tune their teaching strategies.
Formative assessments involve all kinds of observations by the teacher of, for instance, how the child engages with the learning. Examples of this kind of assessment could be quizzes, orals, maths projects, practical projects, research projects, creative writing, summaries, comprehensions, group work, art and craft activities.
To sum up: formative assessment is process-orientated, as opposed to outcome orientated.  It monitors ongoing learning and it is used to offer reflections to students about their learning.
And, we also use what is called Ipsative Assessment, namely evaluating the student in relation to her/himself. These could be seen as biographical or developmental assessments, namely assessments of the aspects that give us a picture of the emerging individuality of the young person.
In connection with Ipsative Assessments we make use of Self-reflective Assessments which leads nicely into Self-directed Learning. This is something which is generally viewed as a very desirable outcome of education. The many projects we work with in the Waldorf System, and the lack of textbooks strongly calls on the children and students to become actively involved in their own learning.
Already in Class 1, it is clear to most teachers that the children display a love of learning, and also that they are keen to set their own little ‘projects’ within the framework we provide in and out of the classroom. We see that the foundations for this are laid already in our Kindergarten where the children are allowed a big portion of each day for free play...
Ideally, we want to avoid doing assessments OF children, but we would rather do assessments WITH children and students.
This encourages the learners to be aware of their own learning aims, to take responsibility for meeting those aims, and it can be used to help students self-reflect on their behavior and attitudes.
So, we have come full circle, and we are back where we started with the etymology of the word assessment, namely to sit beside our students.
I think many philosophers would agree with us in thinking that the greatest education there is - is self-education. Therefore one of our highest aims is to help foster a love of learning, for learning’s sake, not in order to attain a certain mark.

 
* * *
However, it must be stated that assessment of teaching comes before assessment of childrens’ performance. We know that good practice occurs when we self-reflect and self-assess, and we do this on an on-going basis, based on our observations of the children in our care, on their learning and development. We do this daily, weekly, monthly and of course annually, too.
We share our evaluations with colleagues on a regular basis and aim to build insights and personal learning, which flows back into the classroom.
RESOURCES:
Oxford University Press - https://blog.oup.com/2008/05/assess/
A Journal Article “Assessment - A Waldorf Perspective” - Martyn Rawson:
https://www.waldorflibrary.org/images/stories/Journal_Articles/rb20_2rawson.pdf
Avison and Rawson (2014) Tasks and Content of the Steiner Waldorf Curriculum

 

Some of the questions that we did not have time to answer during the session on Wednesday 18th August:


Q: How are teachers navigating assessments over these last 2 years, where so much is reliant on observation and there has been so much disruption.

A: Each class teacher will address the impact of Covid and the resulting distance learning in the various parent evenings. This will be discussed in accordance with the developmental phase of the children. The class teachers will also explain how they have planned to remedy any areas that need support following the distance learning time.

Q: How does the school see the role of parents in the assessment process? As a parent I would like the opportunity to support my children in their learning. it seems like the teachers are continually assessing the children in subtle ways and I would love the opportunity to receive feedback from time to time, maybe not in a quantitative, objective way but informally as in "your child could benefit from reading aloud or her reading has improved" etc or "he doesn't enjoy eurythmy at all" etc. We can then also have a more full picture and find ways to support and encourage our children.

A: As a school we value the conversations and engagements that we have with parents around a child. It is inevitable that both parents and teachers gain knowledge and insight from these dialogues around how best to support ‘the child’. The parent-teacher relationship is a dynamic one, and definitely not like a one-way traffic system. Please take initiative and request a conversation with your teachers if you feel the need for more information, especially during these times when spontaneous meetings and interactions are severely limited.

Q: Can you expand on the academic survey in class 5? If it is external, who is it done by, what are they assessing and how are they assessing? Can Michael Oak consider sharing full disclosure of any external assessments with parents? Surely parents have a right to have access to their child’s assessment ?

A: The annual Academic Survey is carried out by The Federation of Waldorf Schools in South Africa. The following answer is given directly by the Federation representatives:
These survey tests are not written so that they can be shared with parents. It is an internal assessment carried out to ensure high standards in our movement and to assist teachers who might struggle in certain areas. The aim of The Federation is to communicate the results with the Colleges so that each individual school may deal with them themselves and provide help and support where it may be needed.
This survey is only one form of assessment against the individual teacher’s ongoing assessments of his or her class. The teacher’s own assessments will be summative and formative in nature. The teacher has the best picture of each child and will be able to provide a better overall picture of the individual children in her/his class. We are aware that some children struggle to write these tests, and the class teacher will know best how the results obtained by the Academic Survey reflects the actual ability of the child.
A single test is not sufficient to capture a child’s progress or lack thereof. The Federation gets an overall view of how the whole class fared and whether there are sections the teacher has to revise or teach. These assessments therefore give us a general direction rather than a child specific picture.
MATRICS 2021:  Last Day at School and Start of Exams
          
Our Matrics lining up for their first mock exam, which took place on Thursday.
On Wednesday the Matrics enjoyed a "Funky Sock Day" in honour of their last day of school.

(re)Building and Maintaining Connectivity


A few Leaflets ago Tasneem Jacobs, our Social Worker and Counsellor, shared some thoughts in a piece titled ‘Staying Connected’. Her article invited readers to explore the nourishment that arises from staying connected with Mother Nature. It also touched on ways in which the Covid pandemic, through necessary physical distancing and masking, has disrupted social and emotional connections. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found some of these distances have just crept up on me, unnoticed. Do I see family as often as I used to? And how much time and energy do I spend connecting with my good friends now?

OK, to be sure, these can be isolating and disconnecting times … but what can we DO about that? How do we counter this, to rebuild and maintain our connections and trust?

At our General Teachers’ Meeting (GTM) this week we afforded ourselves a chance to test and experience two basic yet daring thoughts: ‘what if we already have within us the answers we seek?’ and, ‘the quality of MY listening has a direct, positive effect on the quality of YOUR thinking’. As required, we were physically distant, and despite this, participants found deep and unexpected connections with themselves and others. Here’s how we did this fun, heart-opening and practical process … so you might try it for yourself.

We paired up (although this is effective no matter the group size) and simply created mini Thinking Environments. One person took the role of speaker, and their job was to talk freely and uninterrupted about potential solutions to any real problem they faced, which they had not resolved and really wanted to. They had complete freedom to choose their problem focus, big or small. Their partner had a seemingly minor role, that was actually crucial: to listen. But intently, 100%, wide open hearted, full eye contact, deeply empathic listening. And they were encouraged to be completely silent. This was how we co-created multiple thinking environments, where quality listening opened up thinking spaces for often genuinely soulful and seemingly effortless problem solving.

Some found the listening role less easy – we often want to relate matching experiences, or offer advice. But a thinking environment is not a discussion – rather, it’s a very intentional and empathic space. And the magic is not simply that its staggeringly effective, even over a 5 minute stretch, but it's deeply meaningful for both parties – it builds connection.

Which brings us full circle to the ‘connection’ idea that kicked off this writing. Do you feel inspired to try this at home, with a friend, a stranger even? If so, you don’t even need to make it as formal as we did at the GTM. And if you sense that total empathic silence is weirding out your speaker partner, try this brief script that you can repeat at intervals where they seem to have dried up: “…and is there anything else you have to say on this now?” Said in an appreciative enquiry mode, it can rekindle your thinking environment. And if you like, connect with me on 084 581 1248 to share your experience!

For more on this tool, that Nancy Kline developed, go to https://www.timetothink.com/

Rob McLeod  (High School History/Religion Studies and Main Lesson teacher, facilitator, training designer)

CLASS 8 :   Art Recreations

During the lockdowns of 2020, people all around the world got creative recreating famous artworks with whatever they could find at home. During online school this year, the Class 8s tried their hand at recreations of their own. The research and deep observation needed for this task finds fulfillment in their creative writing later in the term. Prizes for the funniest and the most accurate were awarded. 
Nicola Elliott


 
Prizes:   Isabella won for Most Accurate.  Khwezi won for Funniest.
( More art recreations next week )
Met Waardering:  Afrikaaps
Ek is oek important
Peter Snyders

As al julle geldgatte
julle geld gespendit,
en julle bananaskille
innie slootjie gegooi het,
en julle bustikkits
soes confetti gestrooi het,
en julle staain en cool drinks
opgedrink het,
en julle borrels en blikkies
in 'n gangetjie gesit het,
en julle visgraatbolle
en vrot vrugte
en stukkene boksies
en papiere
rondgegooi het ...

dan kom ek
en maakie wêreld weer skoon :
soe,
ek is oek important.


 
WOORDESKAT

Drone :
   hommeltuig

Application on a phone :
   Toep

Free range chicken :
   Vrylopende hoender.



 
----------------------

Mnr. Scharnick -
Afrikaans is darem ma ‘n leka language.
Of Hoe?
        
Full details of the World Record Attempt are on the Ladles of Love website   HERE 
UPDATE (Saturday a.m.) from Daniele at Ladles of Love:  "... with a final push we just managed to pass the 90,000 can mark! ... Now all that's left is to put the cans in a line and make it [the world record] official.  Hundreds of people have chosen to volunteer their time for an hour, half or full day ... and I know that together we will make it happen especially after I received this pic from Michael Oak Waldorf School showing the gees of these kids joining in our record attempt..."    
News from our Alumni
ROBIN AARON (left) was at Michael Oak in the 1970s when the school only went up to Standard 5 (long before we even had a kindergarten or high school).  He was in Marion Penfold's class and recalls knitting a scarf (in Cape Town City's colours!), making a wooden egg (for darning), and a salad bowl (which he still has in his kitchen). After Michael Oak he went on to Constantia Waldorf where his teacher was Leo Nitzsche.  Robin is now retired and helps his son Jarred in his maintenance business -- see advert below at the end of the Leaflet.
STORM FREESTONE started in our Playgroup in 2005 and stayed with us up to Class 10.  He is now a highly regarded canine behaviourist and can be reached at storm@splendidk9.co.za or
www.stormfreestone.com
For the latest updates to the school calendar please check the website regularly HERE

------------------------------------------------------------
ADVERTISING IN THE LEAFLET:

Donations for Display Adverts and Community Notices  

Please note that all advertisers are expected to offer a contribution to our Bursary Fund.  Minimum donation R30.
Please use these bank details for EFT transfers:  
Standard Bank,  Branch: 02510900,
Acc. No.: 071885382
Acc Name:  Michael Oak School Fundraising.
Ref: ‘Leaflet-Ad’
Adverts will only be published a maximum of 3 times per school term.


DEADLINE for all adverts is Thursday 12 noon
   APARTMENT  
   AVAILABLE   
Ground-floor apartment (73sqm) apartment in art-deco style building in Upper Kenilworth (above Main Road) to rent from 1 September 2021.  Two bedrooms, 1 bathroom, lounge, kitchen and work area.  Partially or unfurnished.  Wooden flooring, high ceilings, backyard area to braai and off-street parking for 1 vehicle.  Very convenient - walking distance to Michael Oak, Pick n Pay, Woolworths, Pharmacy, Hairdressers, public transport and Restaurants.  R9500 p/m.  Deposit neg. Please contact Dianne on 083 299 3977
------------------------------------
   DOMESTIC HELP  
Our wonderful domestic Stella is looking for work on Tuesday and Saturday.  Previous employer relocated.   Excellent work ethic and lovely presence in our home. Employed by 2 Waldorf families.  Contact Ilana on 076 396 7977  or  021 795 0965
Vulumasango Waldorf-based children’s home would be grateful for donations of good quality books and Waldorf toys which your children may have outgrown. We offer a place of safety to children aged 3 to 18 years who would love to offer your toys a new life in their vibrant homes and classrooms.
Please contact Jen 082 796 2202 to arrange  collection.
          

Copyright © 2021 Michael Oak Waldorf School, All rights reserved.