by Claire Law
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider the huge changes of the past year and explore strategies to manage change.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (All Change) and the means to display them.
- Show Slide 1.
Tell the students that you want them to try to spot six differences between the two pictures on the slide.
Show Slide 2, which shows the answers.
- A quick game of spot the difference is great for getting the neurons in our brains firing. However, there is another reason for playing this game today. We are going to reflect on some of the ways in which the world is different nowadays.
In the past year, there have been huge changes for us as a global society, as a school and as individuals. Compared to a year ago, there are plenty of differences to spot. We’ve experienced changes in terms of where we can travel or visit, who we can spend time with and how we’ve accessed school. For many families, work patterns have also changed.
- Of course, change is a fact of life.
Show Slide 3.
The nineteenth-century Christian leader (and Catholic saint) Cardinal Newman once said, ‘To live is to change.’ As we grow, develop and age, our bodies are constantly changing. We change our thoughts and preferences across our lifetime. We change schools, jobs, houses, friends and many other things.
Show Slide 4.
Change can be when we start something or stop it, increase it or decrease it. In fact, we often tell each other, ‘A change will do you good,’ or even, ‘A change is as good as a rest.’
- However, change – especially when it is sudden, unexpected and dramatic - can be difficult for us to manage. That’s normal and natural.
The changes that began in December 2019, when people began to become ill from coronavirus, were dramatic. Soon, distressing images were filling our screens. In March 2020, the UK government made far-reaching changes to try to keep people safe. Many people found these changes difficult because they were so sudden and had a massive impact on daily life.
As a school, we had to dramatically change the way in which we learnt and connected with each other. We want to thank you all for being part of that change, but we also want to acknowledge how hard it has been for all of us.
- Now, we are adapting to being back at school, learning in an environment with our fellow students. So, let’s take a look at some of the strategies that have been shown to help people manage change. Change can be a fresh opportunity and a chance to do things differently. Having good ways to handle transition means that hopefully, we can thrive as a result of change.
- Show Slide 5.
Here are some helpful ideas for how to handle change.
- Don’t change everything at once! Change requires energy and concentration. If change is happening because of an external cause, i.e. someone or something has determined that change has to happen, you can preserve some of your energy by limiting other changes in your life, the ones that you initiate for yourself. It’s a good idea to moderate how many changes you tackle in one go.
- Find information and answers. Some of the anxiety that people experience when they face change results from uncertainty about what will happen. Of course, none of us has a crystal ball, but finding out deadlines for assignments, how the canteen system is working now and what to do if you fall ill are all sensible questions to be asking.
That’s why your form tutors have spent time speaking to you and explaining things, so that you have as much information as is helpful at this time of change. There are also other people in school whom you can ask questions of as needed. Give examples appropriate to your school.
- Recognize the risk. Embracing change can feel daunting. Experimenting with something new asks a lot of us. It’s good to acknowledge that risk, and also the feelings of loss that change brings.
You can support yourself in facing the risk by recalling times when you have faced difficulty with courage. What did you do? What did you say? How did it help you to manage? Another useful question that you can ask yourself is, ‘How would I choose to act if I were not feeling afraid?’ This might give you the time and space to reflect upon the change and then respond, rather than reacting out of fear.
- Predict the benefits. By taking a moment or two to reflect, you can consider what there is to gain from the change. Athletes use this strategy: by making changes to their diet or training routine, they can improve their performance. Imagining the benefits of the change makes it easier to stay motivated. Asking yourself what you have to gain from change can help you to feel more positive about it. As teachers, many of us have noticed the resilience and self-discipline of many students as they have worked independently during lockdown. We might not have been as aware of these skills if it hadn’t been for the changes brought about by lockdown.
Time for reflection
We have now looked at four strategies that might help us to manage change; there are plenty of others. For now, let’s spend a moment reflecting on which of these strategies could help us today. What particular change are you facing that you could handle by using one of these strategies?
Let’s take a moment of quiet to consider that.
Reread Slide 5.
Pause to allow time for thought.
Optional: let’s also take a moment to reflect on the idea that, even when change is all around us, Christians believe that God is unchanging.
Show Slide 6.
There is a verse in the Bible that says, ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.’ Christians speak about God being faithful and by this, they mean that God is reliable and does not change in his love for us, or in his power, care or concern towards us. That can be a very comforting thought when we feel disturbed by change.
As we move towards our time of prayer, maybe we could consider if there is a change that we are finding hard, which we would like to ask God to help us with.
We have reflected today on change.
We have acknowledged that a lot has changed for us over the past year and that this change has been daunting and difficult.
We have also acknowledged that change presents new opportunity and that there are strategies for managing change.
Please help us to remember ways in which we can manage change.
Please help us to be supportive of one another as we face change as a community.
Please help us individually as we face our own personal challenges and changes.
We thank you that you are faithful towards us.