How Do We Manage Transitions and Help Our Students to Do So, Too?

How Do We Manage Transitions and Help Our Students to Do So, Too?

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How Do We Manage Transitions and Help Our Students to Do So, Too?
August 19, 2021

As we wrap up our summer session, we are gearing up for the fall and getting ready to welcome new students and returning students in a few short weeks.  Wow, time flies! We are getting the campus ready, making lists, planning orientation and classes, assigning our teams, and all the other important tasks that come with the beginning of the school year.

All of this boils down to transition: the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.

With any transition comes uncertainty which raises 1001 questions about unknowns.  With uncertainty comes anxiety.  Students all over the country are getting ready to transition from summer to fall with the expected back-to-school apprehension.  Add on a new school, changes that may have happened over the summer socially, physically, or emotionally, COVID variant cases going up, facing senior year… or freshmen year, family dynamic changes, and on and on.

So… how do we manage transitions and help our students to do so, too?

  • Acknowledge and recognize the conclusion of the current phase.  This helps us prepare for what is emerging, which is much more effective than pretending that it isn’t happening.
  • Honor the transition.  Give time to the process of leaving the status quo and that it can be challenging.  Celebrate or grieve the change; often there are elements of both.
  • Look for and give thanks for the experiences of the current phase, even if you think they were negative.  When we are mourning the ending, we can move forward easier by looking for the positives and being thankful for them.
  • Seek and give support in the change.  Reach out to people who can celebrate or commiserate with you.  Talk about the change and give it the attention it deserves.
  • Explore the new possibilities. Anxiety is about expecting the negative thing to happen, nervous excitement is about imagining the possibilities.  List and dream of the fresh opportunities that can come about.
  • Put energy into visualizing the upcoming change.  What do you desire from this change?  We can influence the outcomes by the mindset we enter a transition with.

Most kids will give us an eyeroll if we try to formalize this process with them.  Instead, be covert and just talk out loud in the car about your own thoughts in these areas, and ask questions.  The kid may not get into a big discussion, but they will hear you and start to see that you realize that this transition is not routine, and it deserves to be acknowledged… and then… just maybe, they will talk with you about it.


Sharon McCallie-Steller