Head of House – Ward
#SquadGoals in the Year of Sincerity
We have continued our work in the Pastoral Team this year on the difference between healthy and unhealthy friendships and our recent focus has been on group dynamics.
Being part of a group at school is often what girls strive for, it feels good and it can feel safe. Finding your friendship niche is one of the big challenges facing many teenagers. We know that having good friends and feeling a belonging is key to feeling happy in school, while feeling excluded or socially isolated can be a major cause of stress for students. It’s no secret that teenagers fear feeling alone and, unfortunately, this means they can sometimes make poor choices in their friendships to avoid this. To some, they would rather have a bad friend than no friend at all.
If groups are formed around shared interests, and when they are flexible, open and inclusive, then groups can work well. Indeed, they are a normal part of the process of working out your identity and where you belong. However, the complexities of group dynamics are one of the leading causes of student concern and we regularly hear the same worries in our Conversations with girls:
- “What if someone in my group doesn’t get along with my friend from another group?”
- “My current group isn’t working – how do I move away/switch to another group without causing confrontation?”
- “I really like my group except for one girl – we really don’t get on at all. What do I do?”
- “Our group is getting too big and we need to split but we don’t want to upset anyone. How do we manage this?”
- “What if I want to be in more than one group?”
In the year of Sincerity, we have aimed to be clear in our message that every student is an individual; with unique strengths and weaknesses, different interests and ultimately not all personalities work beautifully together. Each friendship is unlike every other, but as long as a friendship is based on trust and respect, it is a sincere friendship.
Ms Ugonotti talked with Year 8 students last week during Conversation on the difference between ‘fitting in’ – often changing who you are in order to be accepted by others – versus ‘belonging’ – being authentic and knowing your own self-worth. This was followed up during Photo Day with the Heads of House and Advisors where the students shared how much they liked the idea that, “We can feel we belong, even when we’re alone. We can feel we belong, even if we don’t get invited to every birthday party. We can feel we belong, even if our friend is hanging out with another friend.”
Through our value of Sincerity, we hope our students recognise the importance of self-compassion and self-worth; to strive to be who they truly are and not what they think others want them to be. For girls who are struggling to ‘find their squad’, or challenged by the dynamics of current friendships, I often suggest they are best to focus not on trying to join or belong to a group, but instead on trying to make connections with individual girls who share their values and interests.
Glennon Doyle Melton, creator of blog Momastery and author of Love Warrior, recently posted a story on Instagram encouraging people to switch to horse shoes instead of circles when they’re sitting with a group. At Loreto Normanhurst we often reinforce this idea with our ‘Mary Ward Open Circle’. An open circle is welcoming, it’s a fluid shape allowing new people to join, or others to choose to leave. Hopefully, we can give our students the ability to widen their circle, while equipping them with the tools to understand we are each individuals who can belong without ‘fitting in’ and who are free to make choices about their own friendships.
Congratulations to Ward who were so proud to be presented with the Spirit Cup at Music Festival 2019. This was well-deserved and a real testament to the girls’ camaraderie and team work. Sarah Maguire, Year 12 (Conductor), Tessa Rabeau, Year 11 (Accompanist) and Imogen Whitnall, Year 12 (Music Leader), worked tirelessly with assistance from Isabella Taylor, Year 11, to deliver a heartfelt performance of Dolly Parton’s Working Nine to Five.
Mrs Emma Hughes
Head of Ward
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