Tuesday, January 21, 2014

SOLS What about transitions?

It is Tuesday and this is a "Slice of Life" (SOLS) for Two Writing Teachers.  Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.


Today, delightfully, was a snow day - a bonus day off, after a three day weekend.  I decided to slip a long walk in before the snow hit, heading down to my neighborhood walking path along Sligo Creek in the early morning.

Yesterday, we had weather in the 50s...today we would not leave the 20s.

Just before snow, there is a waiting.
Just before snow, change is in the air.
Just before snow, it is so beautiful outside.

At this early morning hour,
the temperature felt, somehow, both cold and warm.
There was more moisture in the air, yet the breeze felt dry.
The light of the sky seemed to be simultaneously darkening and brightening.
I was amazed, alert, aware.
Yes, change was coming.

The ground itself was brown with leaves and dirt, only the slightest speckles of snow falling from the sky. It was some time before the snow began to stick to surfaces. For this one hour walk, I was suspended, poised, hovering between two weather extremes. Yes, change was coming.

Nature was giving me a full sensory experience of transition.
Pulled between two possibilities,
there is heightened tension,
not fully knowing what would be.

Just before snow, I could see clearly the work of change.

I think the place 'in-between' - as you leave one thing and enter another - is dynamic, restless, filled with invisible movement. What comes next?

It strikes me that this is why transitions are so hard for young children.
Giving up one thing and moving towards the next.

Young children need to know,
What comes next?

When it is time to do something new, aren't there always a few who run away?  or cry? or avoid?
Is it the space "in-between"? 
Is there a not knowing? an unpredictability?

Thus, the essentialness of having routines,
thinking through and planning how you will move from one thing to the next -
thinking it through for each individual child.

How will you help the children leave / stop what they are doing?
How will the children know?
What are your cues? Is there a visual? a special sound?
Are there children that need to be forewarned, to be reminded ahead of time?
Is there a way to make the transition more joyful? more magical? a song, chant, or dance, perhaps?
Is there a way for children to participate in this transition? to feel a sense of control over what is happening? a job or task that they might be responsible for?
Where is the pleasure of this new thing they will be doing? 

As I walked, I saw the most beautiful bird,
unknown to me,
grey-blue with a white ring around its neck,
somewhat 'plump' (the cold?),
flying along the creek, landing every once and awhile,
starting again, each time I approached,
landing aways, up the creek, in the direction I was walking,
flying off again as I got near.
We continued this way some four or five lengths,
when I lost him in the transitioning light.
He became invisible,
melded with the rock, the whitening path, the dark creek water.
My eyes searched, I could not find him,
but heard him only,
at last,
his chirp also disappeared.
This beautiful bird was the magic of this morning's approaching snow,
bringing both suspense and pleasure,
as nature transitioned.


  1. Oh, Maureen, this is quite a beautiful reflection, of your experience, of the solitary walk/gift you have been given on this 'snow day'. We have no snow, but a drop from 60s to 20s tomorrow night-very windy today, no clouds at all, but something is, as you say, transitioning! My 4 year old granddaughter has such a time leaving my house when she visits-so hard to say goodbye! Now from your words, I wonder if it's the transition that's so hard, even though she love home too. I'll talk to her mother about that insight. Thank you!

  2. My mother used to help me transition throughout my life by telling me to see the changes as adventure. So though I didn't know what may lie ahead, I could await the changes with eager anticipation instead of dread. Transitions are incredibly powerful, I think, and important to have the skills to handle without falling apart!
    Loved your walk talk today! Very thoughtful.

  3. I loved your walk with all the noticing and reflection of having a "snow day." Seems like you got a lot out of your day!

  4. Just before the snow you noticed beauty and shared brillantly. I am grateful.

  5. Thank you for sharing this made me think of the days when I would walk in the snow. When you mentioned the bird it made me think of the bird watching I did with my grandfather when I visited him in New York. Wonderful poem!

  6. Beautiful poetry. So calming to read. I dislike being rushed during transitions, especially when I am creating, or in the middle of a page in a book. It's true we often forget that children also have the same feeling-but worse because they have not developed a sense a time or the ability to read a clock (or carry a phone with the time!) Thanks for the gentle reminders on how to honor transitions.