Helping girls to lean in
This week I asked my lead team to offer ideas for my principal’s assembly that I host at the beginning of each term. I choose a focus in order to introduce a specific value or attitude for the girls to work on or develop throughout the term. In effect it becomes our mantra for the term and has included phrases like the power of yet and I want to see you be brave.
The teachers talked about helping girls to have the courage to stand up for what they need and want. They want girls to believe in themselves and in their talents. They want girls to be confident and to make their own good choices.
The teacher’s discussion reminded me of Sheryl Sandberg’s text Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead which describes the challenges women face in trying to get ahead. Sandberg argues that internal obstacles, such as lack of self-confidence, hold women back and consequently women lower their expectations of what they can achieve.
Helping girls to make that transition from seeking continual approval and advice from parents or teachers to making their own good choices and being confident in their own abilities is a delicate but essential developmental stage. As educators we need to provide activities and strategies that allow a great deal of practice to succeed and fail but ultimately empower our students to be confident in their own skin to make good choices.
How do we do this?
Firstly, by ensuring our school’s pastoral care programme is underpinned by the development of key social and emotional core competencies such as self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills and social awareness (casel.org).
The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) Key Competencies and the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) Learner Profile are two examples of how a curriculum can be underpinned by key social and emotional competencies.
Secondly, by utilising programmes such as Pubertal Change, Bounce Back, Keeping Ourselves Safe, Friends for Life, OWLS etc. across the school and deliberately timetabling the yearly programmes across year groups. These deliberate acts of teaching and comprehensive programmes will ensure a dedicated approach to pastoral care and the development of confident students who have self-belief and make good choices.
My mantra for term 2 is LEAN IN! My mantra poster that will be prominent in all classrooms to reinforce the message looks like, see below: