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"Look what you've accomplished! How'd you do it?"

It's coming to the end of another school year. We're all rushing to get to the finish line- the last day but there's value in taking some time to reflect on the year. I do this at home with my kid, and I did, too, with my students when I was in the classroom. It's powerful to provide young people the time and opportunity to reflect on the changes they've made, the growth they've seen, and just how they did it.

The transition to middle school for us this year was a big one. We spent last summer preparing for the change with excitement and trepidation. Lockers, more freedom, new buses, new teachers, more extensive hallways...That's why I decided to ask how the actual middle school experience compares to what my kid had anticipated. Last weekend, we went on a walk, and I asked Jamie if they could go back in time to last year, what would they tell themself about the year to come. My kid had two answers: it's not as scary as the 5th-grade teachers tried to make it seem, and you'll never know who might become a friend by the end of the year. I also shared advice I would have given myself a year ago. It's not as scary as other middle school parents say it is and worry less, you'll figure it out together, which we did.

One of the keys to helping kids process their growth and change is to ask, how do you think that happened or how did you do that? This question helps them examine the actions and behaviors that brought them success. Then the lesson gets tucked away for another day when they wonder if they can do something new, and their brain will spark up and say, "Hey, you remember 6th grade when you thought it would be tough, but it just took some time to adjust."

In our rush to get done and move on to the next thing, we miss great opportunities to understand our kids better and ourselves. Additionally, we're teaching a practice of self-reflection focused on self-determination- in other words, our choices impact our outcomes and shape our daily lives. Even if your kid or students didn't have the most spectacular year, the process still works, maybe even better. The chance to think about the things that went well in a pretty awful year reminds kids that they have made progress and learned some lessons to take with them next year.

For more about my school coaching business, click here. You can also listen to The School Whisperer podcast (here).

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