At the start of each year we dedicated a full morning to House activities. This enables the new girls and staff to come together and really get a sense of their new House and provides a platform for the leadership team of each House to set the tone for the year.
For this inaugural meeting the school House Captains were asked to lead their House by introducing the House song for our Glee competition in November. Teaching 150 girls of ages 7-18 a song and then getting them to sing it out loud is a task that would vex most teachers.
Yet the House Captains presented the song, democratically chosen by the House Officials, and worked with their audience to encourage them to sing. Some subdivided the groups into soloists, dancers and rappers and others explained their choice of song, such as Parks’ choice of Nina Simone’s “I Got Life” which celebrates the joy of life despite the racial intolerance she had experienced growing up in America – a fitting song for Parks House, which is named after Rosa Parks, the 1950s American civil rights activist.
House activities are also about building up a sense of identity and belonging. That morning Years 3 and 4 had a creative hour painting a House canvas and House flag, Year 5 learned how to Zumba alongside the Year 9s. Years 6 and 7 took part in a treasure hunt, Year 8 worked on mental challenges and Years 10-13 had a variety of physical challenges of ultimate frisbee, netball and benchball. The morning brought the teachers and girls together in activities designed for fun but underpinning all of them was the need to create an effective team.
Teamship is important: the girls learn whilst we can do things on our own we are much more effective if we can work together in a team. To my mind a successful team is one that recognises and appreciates each other’s strengths, encourages and praises one other and has a blend of talents that work together to produce the end result.
In Edale, this weekend, Year 10s were certainly learning how to be a successful as a team as they worked together to build rafts, abseil down bridges, go caving, weaseling (climbing through very narrow rocks and not getting stuck!), high wires, rock climbing and orienteering at night. The activities took both the girls and staff out of their comfort zone and I have to say as I was wading through ice cold cave water (that leaked through my boots) and crawled through small ledges to reach a cavern, I was very grateful for the support and encouragement I, and others, received from the team. I was also very impressed by the bravery of some as they faced their fears and overcame their own personal challenges.
Ultimately leadership and teamship must go hand in hand, for each is the poorer without the other.