The Head’s reflections on the week

Posted: 3rd May 2024

We began the week with an excellent Assembly, presented by Miss Mason, on the topic of International Dance Day. I took a seat with the teachers, eager to find out more. Without thinking about it, I instinctively took a seat further back than normal, next to the door. The member of staff next to me said, “You’re scared she’s going to ask for volunteers”. And they were right! Therefore, this week, I want to look at the topic of resilience and how we can build resilience in ourselves and encourage it in children.

Later that day, following several weeks of sterling work by Mrs J Griffiths, Years 1 to 8 assembled on the front playground to take part in a Line Dancing routine. Lots of the staff also took part, having had a crash course rehearsal last Friday morning. There are many children and adults in our community who love to dance, but I’m sure there were many who felt the cold finger of fear when the plan was announced. Me? Dancing? With everyone watching? I won’t remember the steps! Everyone will laugh at me!

You are all familiar with my belief in the growth mindset, and learning a dance routine is a perfect metaphor. Mrs Griffiths’ initial demonstration of the routine had made it look so graceful, so easy, and yet so difficult. The reaction “I’ll never be able to do it like that” was I’m sure common to many children and staff when they saw it for the first time. But then we apply the growth mindset! You just can’t do it yet. You break the task down into manageable steps. You try things twice as slowly as they will eventually be. You join the dots. You practise. You no longer have to look at your feet to move them. You practise some more. Things become instinctive. And then, looking into the big mirrors in the Performing Arts Room, you see yourself dancing! To extend the metaphor, this is the same for dancing as it is for algebra or essay writing.

And then come the attendant nerves of the performance itself. Some very little ones stayed with their teachers, slightly overwhelmed and unsure. One was overheard saying “But I don’t WANT to join in!”. We performed the whole routine three times, and most of those who sat out at first decided to join in for the second or third take, when they saw how much fun everyone was having. As you will see some people were better at it than others – and I very much include my staff in this – but everyone was giving it a go and having fun in the sunshine.

We can only build resilience by trying new things and challenging ourselves. I think building resilience can also include a lot of laughter. Be prepared to try and get it wrong. Nobody is perfect and everyone has different talents and abilities. Celebrate what you are good at, but don’t be afraid or ashamed of the things you find difficult. Remember, you just can’t do it yet. When a group of people join together to take part in the same activity, it is a matter of certainty that some are going to be better at it than others. The bigger the group, the clearer that will be. Whether that bothers you is up to you, not anyone else. You know that practice makes progress.

Finally, I think that resilience is an important part of wellbeing. Knowing that we can learn any skill through practice is a powerful thing. Trying new things, practising, and seeing progress all have a positive effect on our wellbeing. We learn to bounce back and try again. Think about Winston Churchill’s “Failure isn’t fatal” in really challenging times. I took part in something today that I perhaps wouldn’t have chosen to do. I stood up in front of everyone and made it clear what I can and can’t do so well yet, and I’m proud I did it. I know that through practice I will improve. All of these are statements of a resilient mind.

Ms Elizabeth Lyle, Head

Categories: Head's Reflections