As we approach the end of another school year, it’s time to say goodbye to many friends, including all of our seniors.

As we approach the end of another school year, it’s time to say goodbye to many friends, including all of our seniors. We often talk about walking intentionally through the steps of a transition for those who are leaving, but it is equally important for those who are staying.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about being present as a way to handle the emotions of this season. Today, I want to talk about some strategies that are important for both the “leavers” and the “stayers.” The “R.A.F.T.” transition model comes from Dave Pollock and Ruth Van Reken, who did a lot of research on third culture kids, originally published in “Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds”.

Reconciliation: As you prepare to say goodbye, either as a stayer or a leaver, it’s important to make sure that relationships are on a positive footing. Many people tend to cause friction in relationships just before leaving as a coping mechanism. While this may seem helpful in the short term, it is detrimental in the long run. Think about people in your life to whom you will soon say goodbye and consider whether there are any unreconciled issues that you need to deal with now.

Affirmation: As part of the transition process, take the time to affirm the important people in your life. Be intentional about thanking them by writing cards or speaking to them directly. This can be as simple as saying, “Thank you for being my friend.”

Farewells: Make sure you take the time to actually say goodbye. Don’t just let people leave (or leave yourself) without saying farewell. In addition to saying goodbye to important people, it’s also helpful to say goodbye to important places. Take the time for one last visit to that favorite park or restaurant.

Think Destination: For those leaving, start thinking about what you are looking forward to in the next phase. For those staying, this means looking to the future and being willing to form new friendships and relationships.

Plan to Reconnect: I want to add one more step to this model. As you are saying goodbye to people, make a plan about how you will stay in touch. That could be exchanging email or WhatsApp contacts or even setting a date for a video chat. This can help the goodbyes not to feel so final.

With only two weeks left in the school year, time is short. Please take the time to help your students walk through this process as they say goodbye to friends and teachers. Graduation events officially kick off with Baccalaureate next week, and soon the upcoming season of events and goodbyes will become very real to students.

Written by Shawna Wood

Ms. Shawna Wood is dedicated to mentoring and discipling the next generation. Shawna has a Master of Education and has been at Dalat since 2012, first as Middle School principal and now as Deputy Head of school​.
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