A Bubbling Stew
Our students returned to school this week with a bounce in their step, a gleam in their eye, and seemingly an added 2-3 inches of height! It’s always amazing to see the changes that occur in them over the winter break. They mature, shift, find parts of themselves, and forget parts of themselves. They are alive and sometimes raw with emotion, laughing, talking, hugging, crying, and falling apart more readily than they did two weeks ago. Sometimes the changes feel like “progress” in that you can see forward motion in their development in a linear form. Most often, however, the changes we see are more muddled than that. It is frequently a case of “one step forward, two steps back” mixed with “eleven steps to the side, a giant hop in the air, fifteen skip steps off diagonally, and a moonwalk followed by a twirl.”
The teachers here are wise enough to recognize that this apparent social and emotional chaos is actually the manifestation of a crucial self-organizing process that is happening within our students. They have spent an intense two weeks soaking up new sets of routines and interactions. The daily structures of activity and friendship that they had become accustomed to at Randolph are no longer there, and they are forced to take in a whole new understanding of how their world works. They often travel, visit family, spend extended time with parents, revisit old friends, and find new ways of organizing their time. They practice and apply in real life the skills and knowledge they have been obtaining in the safety of Randolph School all year long. This generally creates a stew of reactions inside them, and like a good stew it takes time for these reactions to coalesce into a beautiful new thing. Our role at the school these next few weeks is to gently stir this bubbling brew, judiciously adding in spices of support and guidance. Soon, the kids will have found a new place of comfort, one that is different than where they were two weeks ago.
I hope you all had a wonderful new year, and that 2017 brings you all your own new place of comfort and growth.