While the calendar says it is spring, I just can't envision it given the 16 inches of snow on the ground. Even so, I know spring will come, the days will get warmer, flowers and trees will bloom, and another school year will come to pass. So, how do we embrace a spring that hasn't yet come? How do we manage the end of the year as triple threat educators in a way that celebrates both what has been and what is on the horizon? It is human nature to rush things. Students and faculty alike are longing for those warm spring days that signal the beginning of the end of another academic year, yet there is much still to be done. Managing the want of the end with the necessity of the moment means balancing memories and goals.
For students, especially seniors, the spring is a time of anxious celebration. AP exams, prom, graduation, summer, and for some, university, all nibble at attention and motivation while robbing the value of being in the now. Students, like adults, struggle with change. This may mean saying goodbye to a school, circle of friends, or beloved teacher. So, in this time of renewal, how do we get our students to celebrate both the past and future in one effort?
Allowing students time and space to reflect is key. As well, having honest conversations with them about goals, successes, failures, and loss allow them to come to understand the normalcy of what they are managing. Endings are really about loss. This is a challenge for students in that they perceive endings as wholly negative. By framing endings and the change that comes with them as positive events for the future, we can help mitigate the stress and anxiety students face during an emotionally heightened time of the year.
For faculty, spring also brings anxiety that revolves around change. Maybe it is a new position within your school community. Maybe it is a new job at another school that will be positive for you as an individual, but illicit some challenging conversations with colleagues, students, or one's own children regarding a move. Maybe a longtime advisee is graduating, thus marking the passage of years in an educator's life. As with students, time and space for reflection along with open and honest conversations about why even positive changes can bring about such negative emotions is key to closing the circle on the academic year.
Spring will come. Even as I watch the snow fall, I know it is only a matter of time before I myself begin to feel that uneasiness regarding the end of the year. Yes, there is excitement about summer, longer days, a less hectic schedule, but something always seems a bit sad about the end of the year. So, celebrate the accomplishments of the year. Say thank you to those people around you that you may take for granted. Have those long put off conversations. Attend to your advisees. Support your students and colleagues. Set goals. Bask in the renewal of spring.