September 25

Experiencing change can really challenge us as humans

In my start of term assembly, I spoke to the girls about how experiencing change is one of the things that can challenge us most as humans. As babies and toddlers, we thrived on routine and the security that familiarity provides. I’m sure you still remember that phase when your children want you to endlessly sing the same song, or read the same story to the point of insanity!

In reality, that routine and familiarity can be equally comforting to us as adults, but we have developed more strategies to cope with change and to see it can be a positive, exciting experience.

The ability to seize opportunities, to be adaptable and agile in our responses to change can really differentiate between those who thrive, and those who struggle in all kinds of scenarios. I have had the ‘joy’ of experiencing a good deal of leadership training at various points in my career, but one of the ideas that has stayed in my thinking fairly consistently is the idea that we need to be prepared for a VUCA world. The U.S. Army War College introduced the concept of VUCA to describe the more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous multilateral world perceived as resulting from the end of the Cold War, but it has since become quite common currency for leadership manuals and training. I think it is fair to say we are deep in VUCA territory right now and our resilience is being tested in many ways.

Undoubtedly the students (and adults) are responding in lots of different ways to these uncertainties. They are having an intense experience of change that most of us certainly did not experience at their age. In many ways they are thriving: learning to accept what they cannot control; looking for the opportunities in adversity and appreciating the simple joys of life with fresh eyes. There are also challenges: trying to stay calm and balanced when those around and above you might not be; grieving for lost opportunities; feeling the waves of uncertainty and fear. All of these feelings are a ‘normal’ part of the human condition and in school we are spending much time talking with girls individually and as a whole about exactly this. We have always prided ourselves on the excellent relationships within our school community and especially now, these are crucial for the happiness and well-being of the girls. When we come out the other side of Covid-19 the girls will have developed skills and strategies that will serve them brilliantly throughout their lives.

On Saturday we launch our first fully Virtual Open Day and I was so proud to look at how creatively and ingeniously my team have risen to the challenge of trying to convey the warmth and brilliance of Blackheath High School virtually; no easy task. I think they have all done a pretty amazing job and if you get the chance I would love you to take a look and let us know if you agree.

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