The end of the year is fast approaching, and the theme of transitions has been on my mind lately. Actually, I've been thinking about it for a while. As many of you know, I was on leave for some time this Spring as I helped take care of my father, who had been very ill for a long time and who eventually passed away at home, surrounded by us, his family. This has left me steeped in thoughts of transition--change--and how to cope with the loss of one thing and the gaining of something new.
Summertime presents a few transitions for us. We leave behind a full, rich year of school and the work of keeping up with this year's routines, only to bound head-first into summer warmth, new experiences, and changed routines. Then, by August, we start feeling that old feeling in our bones again--the feeling of another transition approaching, the loss of one thing (summer) and the gaining of another (routine, school year, experience). Transitions, it seems, are so very much a part of life that to be in transition is more likely than not.
I think our students are feeling the regular, end-of-year shift right now. (So are we!) Many are faced with the concurrent joy of the coming summer and apprehension of new routines and expectations. They're wondering, what will next year be like? Will my friends stay the same? How will I get along with my new teacher? (Or, maybe just, when is school over again?!)
When I think about what helps kids cope with change, I think about the recent New York Times article by Sheryl Sandberg, "How to Build Resilient Kids, Even After a Loss." In her article, she writes about a pretty major change for her and her kids--the loss of her husband, their father. Though the example is a bit heavier than the shift from one school year to the next, I think we can learn something from the idea of "companioning" our children, as Sandberg mentions--that "walking alongside them and listening" to their fears, excitement, memories, and wonders, allows us to help our children cope with change in a way that feels supportive and safe. The message is that we all experience change, challenge, hardship, loss, transition, and the trick is to cope with these experiences through talking, listening, and just, sometimes, knowing who to turn to for support.
This year was a transition year for me into the BB&N community, and it has also been a transition year for you, getting used to a new counselor! I have enjoyed getting to know many of you and as I think about the year ahead, I'm excited about various plans for speakers, programming, and building new connections with all of your amazing families. In fact, I'm really interested in hearing from you about themes and topics you're interested in exploring next year. I have my own areas of interest, too, and I'd like to create regular spaces where we can talk, hear from experts, and navigate these issues as a supportive community. So, before you head off into your summers, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your areas of interest!
Have a wonderful end to this school year, and a great few Summer months before the next.