Walking off the stage at my high school graduation, I remember thinking that the transition into my “next chapter” would consist entirely of the extended weekend of freshman orientation at Linfield College, moving all of my stuff into my dorm room, meeting my new roommates, and attending my first day of classes. Period. Approximately 5 days in total. I also remember thinking that I was 1 for 4 of big life transitions – first there’s high school graduation. Check. In four years I would walk off the stage at my college graduation. Check. Shortly after that, I anticipated I would check off “new job that I love and will stay in for a long time”. And sometime after that, I would (finally) check off the “real adult”, which at the time was some vague combination of marriage, maybe. Kids, perhaps. A house. A car that worked. My own insurance bill.
If only it was that easy.
I’m leaving Inflexion soon to take a new job, in a new town, as a high school counselor. I’m both thrilled and sad at the same time. Like most of my previous major transitions, this one snuck up on me, but I’m always excited for new opportunities to learn and grow. This time, however, I find myself reflecting and preparing differently.
One of the things I most enjoyed about my time at Inflexion is that we don’t just talk about getting students across their high school graduation stage, (check). Instead, we focus on creating a holistic definition of readiness that reflects the skills students need to successfully navigate life after high school (not just check the boxes). We work with schools and districts to ensure that every student walks across the stage at graduation truly ready for college, career, and all of life’s transitions. So, I’ve been thinking, as I move into my new role as an educator, how can I leverage what I learned at Inflexion to better prepare my future students for success?
To me, using the Four Keys to guide a holistic definition of readiness is much like helping students put together their own toolbox of skills rather than give them a blueprint or rigid definition of “success”. What if, as educators, our job was to reflect on our own life experiences, identify those tools that have been most valuable to us – our “go-tos” – and figure out how to pass those on to our students so they can pursue any and all things that align with their passions and aspirations? Further, which tools would I personally want to pass on? What skills have been most important for me since crossing the stage at my own high school graduation?
If I were giving my students a starter pack, here are the tools I’d make sure they have:
Is this next life transition going to be executed flawlessly? Absolutely not. But that doesn’t mean I’m not ready.
I am equipped to get through any challenge life may give me, even though sometimes that might mean discovering I need to add new tools. That’s what’s so great about the Four Keys and a holistic definition of readiness – it’s not about putting students through a “one-size fits all” assembly line. It’s about helping them build their toolbox, so they can take on whatever life throws at them.
Question for you, reader: looking back on your life, which skills do you find yourself falling back on time and time again? And if there are any young ones in your life, how can you pass your MVTs (most valuable tools) off to them?