I was talking to the children about the different kinds of changes that they might face, such as an unexpected change. One little boy at Lower School gave us the lovely example of a wobbly tooth falling out.
It may be that adults find dealing with change more difficult than children who often seem to take change in their stride. Today you will all receive the information about which class your child will be in next year, and which teachers are leaving. We often have practically no movement at the end of a year but this year we have more movement than usual although it is still only two teachers. This is bound to cause a few tremors with a fear of the unknown with new teachers.
I have chosen 'Mindfulness' as our value this week because it is the antidote to stress caused by change, especially the unexpected kind. I have reminded all the children of the exercise of sitting still and being in the present moment, because when things are in turmoil it is important to connect with your still centre. This will bring calm and often in that calm the right solution or way to behave will be obvious. It is when we get into a panic or are worried that we can make the wrong decision, leading to a negative situation.
We also talked in assembly about whether there is a part of you that doesn't change, when even our body cells are constantly changing. This is a good P4C conversation!
As adults we do get comfortable with the status quo and don't like things that change, because we then have to do and learn new things. This, as you will know from many previous blogs, is actually very good for us as it takes us out of our comfort zone, creates new neuron connections and forces us to adopt a 'Growth Mindset'. If we are unable to do this, then we do suffer because change is inevitable, necessary and natural.
There will be big changes for Mr. Crehan and me also in what Mrs. Smith, our Director of Communications, has rather topically termed 'Crexit'! (Apparently it was Mrs. Smith who first created the term 'Brangelina' for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie when she previously worked for a top magazine). Since appointing a new Head we have received news from our own children of three engagements, so three weddings in August 2017 and a grandchild this November, so life will certainly hold its changes for us!
We will of course still have a large part to play in the life of the school but here too we will be more like grandparents than parents and we will be handing our 'baby' over to Mrs. Drummond for most of the time (while still receiving updates and giving advice if needed!)
We all have a big decision to make about whether to belong to the European Union or not. The Brexit camp obviously are desirous of change, but the Remainers clearly prefer the stability of the status quo, even if we are losing some of our freedoms through belonging to the European Union.
Change can be good for us but so is stability. In a family situation, stability is valued and change can destabilise children so change has to be acknowledged and managed. Change in the family unit will cause anxiety and so talking about the changes can help, rather than just expecting the child to cope, without speaking about it. In bereavement talks we are advised to talk about the person who has passed away frequently and openly, when it can be something that we might otherwise naturally avoid mentioning. The same would apply to the break-up of a marriage but here it would be particularly important to speak to the children positively about the other parent.
Hence our discussing change with the children, in the hope that when the change arrives at the beginning of next term, it will be expected and not cause stress because we have done all we can to alleviate the possibility beforehand. The Year 1s have a Guardian Angel in Year 2 whom they have written to, and will meet at a tea-party. The plan is that these older children then look out for the new Year 2s when they arrive in their huge new playground in September, and help them by being a friendly, recognisable face.
Change is sometimes brought about by decisions that we make ourselves - not just the kind of change where we have no control - so we have to be sure that we make the right decisions. The more mindful we are when we make the decision the more likely it is that we have considered all the options and chosen the best path. Values will also help to guide our choices. There was an interesting point made on the EU discussion in a recent magazine where it suggested that the Brexits want to get more for Britain by giving less, which gives the campaign an ungenerous slant. On the other hand there does need to be fairness - another important value. Sadly this particular choice is not an easy or obvious one!
Next week's value is meta-cognition or the ability to reflect on one's own learning. 'To change one's learning for the better' is the next aspect of change that we will look at. This aspect is helped by peer assessment that is practised in class but also our Learning Logs give the children the ability to take hold of their own learning and make the changes they need to, to make themselves more able learners. Growth Mindset is also key because if the children see that they have an idea about being good at something, which then stops them taking risks for fear of getting something wrong and then no longer appearing good at that thing, then this is really useful and they can overcome this idea.
So, as adults, we need to show the children that we can live our lives flexibly and that we aren't averse to making changes for the better while also valuing stability and holding to what we know is true.
I wish you good decision-making in the polling booths next Thursday!
There is nothing permanent except change. - Heraclitus
Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots. -Victor Hugo
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. - Reinhold Niebuhr