The emotional energy in the air on Monday as we started the 2022-23 school year was palpable. While I can honestly say it felt overwhelmingly positive and exciting, it is important to acknowledge that the start of a new school year is a transition, and transitions are hard. William Bridges describes the transition process (and its distinction from change) as follows:
Change is the external event or situation that takes place….. The organization focuses on the desired outcome that the change will produce, which is generally in response to external events. Change can happen very quickly.
Transition is the inner psychological process that people go through as they internalize and come to terms with the new situation that the change brings about….[C]hange can put people in crisis. The starting point for dealing with transition is not the outcome but the endings that people have in leaving the old situation behind.
Even when changes are positive, they unmoor us from the familiar and demand our energy – physical, emotional and cognitive. For this reason, change can be exhausting. I won’t attempt to do justice in this note to Bridges’ work on transitions, but I do want to borrow heavily from it to help make visible the transition process that this point in time has brought us to; I invite you to name and normalize it for yourself and for your children.
As an example, our school building is different this year. This change happened seemingly overnight and it happened for good and important reasons – we need more space as we grow, and we want spaces that support collaboration among teachers more effectively. For our returning students, faculty, and families, the changes to our building can initiate that transition process. Personally, I miss the eclectic feel and cozy corners of our pre-remodel building. I worry about the risk of our building becoming more “generic”, and I can’t help but miss the teachers and students who occupied the spaces as they used to. Even as I see clearly the value of the changes made, I mourn the people, places, and things that are left behind. This is normal.
If you find yourself (or your child) a little more on edge, a little less patient, or a little more judgemental, consider pausing to investigate whether you may be in a period of transition. If you are, give yourself permission to appreciate what is past, acknowledge how it served you, and remind yourself of why the change is happening.
This past week as I’ve looked around at our school community, I have felt at times like I don’t want to “jinx” things… I see students, faculty, and families that I want to know and be around, and I feel the purpose of it all. Thank you for being a part of the Bixby community. I am looking forward to spending this year together.
With appreciation to my friend Lee for introducing me to Bridges’ work, Nina