Managing Transitions

Managing Transitions

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Managing Transitions
August 31, 2022

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

Here at Oliverian we have wrapped up our summer session and are gearing up to welcome new and returning students back for the fall.  We are getting the campus ready, making lists, planning orientation and classes, assigning our teams, and many other important tasks.

All of this is evidence that we are facing transition: the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.

Any transition comes with its sidekick, uncertainty.  Uncertainty is made up of an infinite amount of questions about unknowns that don’t always have answers.  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. This approach is much more effective than doing the ostrich impression and pretending that it isn’t happening or doing the duck impression and looking all smooth and graceful on the surface but kicking like crazy down deep.
  • Honor the transition. Dedicate time and attention to the process of leaving the status quo behind; acknowledge and validate that there are challenges in addition to excitement.  Celebrate or grieve the change; often the emotions are dichotomous.
  • Look for and give thanks for all of the different experiences of the current phase, positive or negative.  When we are mourning the ending, we can move forward more easily by looking for the positives and actively expressing thanks for them.
  • Seek out and give support during 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 outcome to happen, nervous excitement is about imagining the possibilities.  List and dream of the fresh opportunities that can come about.
  • Put time and energy into visualizing the upcoming change.  What do you desire from this change?  We can influence the outcomes by the mindset we go into a transition with.

Most kids will give us an eye roll if we try to approach this process in some type of formal way with them.  Instead, be covert and just talk out loud in the car about your own thoughts in these areas, and ask open-ended questions.  They may not get into a big discussion or even respond at all, but they will hear you and start to see that you realize that this transition is not just routine, and it that deserves to be acknowledged… and then… just maybe, they will talk with you about it.


Sharon McCallie-Steller