Saying Goodbye

It’s that time of year again in schools, a time for saying goodbye.

Photo by Ioana Cristiana on Unsplash

May and June are filled with transitions: graduations, retirements, faculty and staff movement, and more. The way a community manages transitions matters and reflects upon that community’s mission, vision, and values. How do you say goodbye and why is it important?

“The way we gather matters.” states Priya Parker, the author of The Art of Gathering, How We Meet and Why It Matters. She defines gathering as “the conscious bringing together of people for a reason.” Priya Parker goes on to say that when we gather together, we “exchange information, inspire one another, test out new ways of being together” to name a few outcomes. Nonetheless, we spend very little time intentionally planning and thinking about the ways we gather. 

Gathering to say goodbye is the bringing together of people to honor a person or people as they move on. This is an area where many schools follow routines or traditions that have been set for years and years. It’s also a space where schools are uncertain of what to do outside of some long held traditions. Often little time is spent during the busy end of school year rush to think about intentions and meaningful ways to gather around saying goodbye.

Why is it important to reflect on your goodbye routines? To…

  • Know that the way a community handles transitions is a reflection on its mission, vision, and values.
  • Make decisions on what routines to keep and what to leave behind.
  • Be sure your routines are intentional, thoughtful, and meaningful.
  • Ensure your routines reflect your current community while still honoring the past.
  • Check for equity.

A few questions to consider as you think about your goodbye routines: 

  • What is the current intention of the goodbye routine? Make sure you know why you are gathering. Don’t make assumptions or automatically use preset intentions created by others long ago.
  • Do these routines honor and reflect the current population of the school?
  • Does the original intention of the routine still work for your community? 
  • Are the routines equitable, inclusive, and accessible? Do they promote a sense of belonging?
  • Does the gathering reflect the school’s mission, vision, and values?

The way we gather matters. When you approach your goodbye routines this year, set aside time to reflect before and after the gathering. Be thoughtful and intentional. Begin with a purpose. Transitions matter. Saying goodbye matters.