As we enter the last months of school, the minds and hearts of students quickly turn to summer and beyond. Spring fever hits, and we may feel it is impossible to direct student’s attention to learning. For those of us teaching students in the transition years, we are faced with yet an additional transition—as our students prepare to leave elementary, middle or high school and enter a wholly new environment. Intentionally working with these transitions in the school year and in the developmental arc of schooling supports students to stay present, anchor the learning of the year, and develop skills and capacities to navigate the inevitable changes in their lives. So how do we work with these potent and challenging transition times?
In this month’s blog, we offer a few ways to address transitions. Click on any topic for a full description of the approach.
The following questions or prompts can support students to more directly explore the transition they are in the midst of—through reflection, writing, community circles, focused listening practices, and art. (As with all of our work, please adapt the language for your particular age group and community.)
- What are you leaving behind? What aspects of yourself as a student and person do you no longer want to carry with you?
- What aspects of yourself do you want to bring with you, or grow, or expand, or reclaim as you move into this next phase of your life?
- What important events happened in this last period of your life? (i.e. 5th grade, high school, etc.).
- In what ways have you grown, and what have you learned?
- What opportunities for growth are there for you in this next phase?
- What concerns do you have about this next phase? How might you be stretched and tested?
- What qualities do you want to cultivate in yourself in this next phase? In other words, what kind of person do you want to be in this next phase of your life?
- What obstacles might get in the way of that?
- What resources do you have or need to have (inside yourself and in your family or community) that can help you overcome these obstacles?
- What commitments do you need to make to yourself and others to support this next phase of life?
See page 125 of our book, The 5 Dimensions of Engaged Teaching, for more on this important topic.