Throughout the year students, teachers and parents are faced with many challenges including new classes or topics, peers, colleagues, regulations and processes. Ringing in the hallway is a resounding “I hate change”, “What do we have to do NOW?” and “But why?”
We feel “lost” or out of control with change yet if we reflect, it is a consistent state we are exposed to. Students are well positioned to reflect on their growth from kindergarten through primary, and then again as they commence high school and undertake extensive study to wrap up the school journey. These aspects of development include behavioural, communicative and social development, to name a few.
As parents, from the time our children are born we enter a whirlwind of evolution. Recalling the time your beautiful baby was handed to you, your mind commenced a rapid pace of new learning. From care basics like sleeping, eating and moving, to fine motor, social and emotional skills as our children enter their toddler and school years.
So why does the idea of change evoke such strong emotions?
Working with teenagers finalising their school years we often ask them to describe their emotions. They commonly refer to excitement, fear, anxiety, joy, confusion, querying and optimism for the future. Embracing this new life stage comes easily to some, and feels impossible to others.
Focusing on rational aspects of transition, such as those listed below, creates a platform for positive response. Creating opportunities to extend and grow beyond what we know and are capable of at any given time, also helps us to accept change.
Reflection & acceptance
Balancing challenging times with calm retrospect can help us recognise what we feel, allowing us to focus on identifying those aspects within our control rather than those out of our influence. i.e. “How do I feel about this? Why? What can I do about that today? Who can answer my questions?” By realistically assessing the situation and accepting the overall purpose or requirement of change allows us to move forward in our lives, rather than becoming consumed in what is out of our control.
Discussion of past experiences
By discussing similar situations individuals have responded to in the past, and the outcomes of the responses, creates perspective and allows for recognition that change has occurred before and we managed it through. Logically we can then use the interactions, experiences and people from our past within our processing of the future. Additionally, we are able to reflect on positive outcomes as well as possible improvements to past situations to result in future success. As such our discussions may include assessment of how to improve responses, actions or reactions to deliver better results if required or to mirror those that worked well in the past.
Isolation can encourage the creation of greater emotions to situations, so aligning the stories of adults and peers, can help someone struggling see they are not alone. Recognising that we have all faced similar dilemmas and have all made good and bad decisions, sharing how we responded and the overall outcomes is essential. For example, sharing memories of your schooling with your child can help them to recognise that someone they respect and admire worked through similar challenges to those they face. It increases their understanding that feeling alone, out of your depth, excited and on occasions lost, are common feelings that can ultimately translate into feelings of growth, empowerment, achievement and recognition.
Our ability to reflect, grow and improve ourselves as professionals, parents, friends and family is what supports us in our careers and relationships. Allowing time to digest and process change and to respond in a positive light will also open our minds to experiences we may not have imagined.
For more information, events and interesting reading from Kathryn at Turning Point Consulting visit www.turningpointconsulting.com.au.
Kathryn Taylor is Director and Owner of Turning Point Consulting Pty Ltd. With more than 16 years of experience in human resources, talent management and career coaching, Kathryn has worked across a range of sectors and specialises in assisting education and corporate clients. Kathryn offers schools, businesses, educators, students, parents and aligned associations support in creating a platform for positive self-evaluation, to support proactive life planning and transition skills. She is an active and involved member of several advisory boards including Wellbeing Australia. www.turningpointconsulting.com.au