Happy New Year to you all! With the arrival of the New Year all across our School community we are full of resolutions and good intentions to work harder, get fitter, be smarter or achieve new personal goals. Whether you are a subscriber to New Year’s resolutions or resolutely opposed to the idea, it does not mean that January cannot mark a starting point of some sort. In school, we are fortunate to have two opportunities every twelve months to refresh, re-boot and renew our goals and aspirations. This is so important for girls of all ages and equally valid for staff – to have the chance to approach life and work afresh with re-newed energy levels.
This half term has been as busy as ever. We have had a record number of visits to Saint Martin’s and enjoyed meeting prospective girls and their parents at our Open Morning, entrance examination, taster days and during working day tours. Our girls as always were excellent ambassadors for school and received many compliments from our visitors for their excellent communication skills and warm welcome.
This week our talented actors have entertained us with their amazing interpretation of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” under the direction of our inspirational Drama teachers Mrs Stafford and Mr Brown. It was wonderful to see so many girls and staff involved in the production. I have had numerous emails and correspondence congratulating everyone involved in the production. I would like to say a special thank you to the Drama, Dance, Technology and Music departments for their commitment, energy and expertise and in particular Mr Hands, our Drama and Design Technology Technician, who skilfully designed and constructed the magnificent “Aslan”.
As you can predict at the start of a New Year the press is awash with articles on the theme of well-being and happiness. As I was growing up I remember the song “I don’t like Mondays” written by Bob Geldof. I am incredibly fortunate that I have always loved working in schools and don’t suffer from that sinking feeling as Monday morning approaches. At the GSA Heads’ Conference in November I had the privilege of listening to and meeting Andy Cope (aka The Doctor of Happiness). In his speech Mr Cope encouraged us to love Mondays; our aim should not be to get through the week but to enjoy the week, every moment of the week and not put off our well-being and happiness until the weekend. By living the moment, loving the moment, and inspiring others to do so, we lift the well-being of people around us.
Andy Cope, author of “The Art of Being Brilliant”, stressed to the audience of Headteachers the importance of positive psychology. He reminded us that happiness was not real. It is in our heads and we are therefore only a moment, a thought, away from happiness. We need to focus on getting to that moment, being positive rather than pulled down by the negative. Being happy and seeking out people who are happy creates a positive learning environment full of joy. It is contagious.
Our lives have become so condensed, so full of lists of things to do, that we have become overwhelmed and exhausted. Instead of focusing on what we still need to do, we should concentrate on how we are being and be our best self everyday. Sometimes it is easier to complain, to criticise or to be negative to fit in. But we can also consciously and deliberately choose to be positive and watch the ripple effect this has on the surrounding people. Being positive is a learnt behaviour and this behaviour can influence others.
This resonated so much with me. Sometimes I do wonder who we are “being” when we are so busy “doing”. The conference reminded me and all other GSA Heads of our role in an increasingly frenetic world to live in the positive moment, and not put off happiness until the weekend.
I was reminded of this thought during my Christmas holiday when I saw an inspirational poster during a shopping trip. The words on the poster are known as the “Holstee Manifesto” which was created by three young Americans as they sat together on the steps of Union Square in New York to write down how they defined happiness and success. The goal was to create something they could reflect back on if they ever felt stuck or found themselves living according to someone else’s definition of happiness.
I thought it was appropriate to end my blog with the manifesto in the hope that it helps us to focus on the important things in life.
As we approach the half term holiday, I wish you all a restful and very happy break.
With best wishes