I don’t think any of us thought we’d be heading into the new school year like this … more uncertainty, continued adjustments and ever-changing policies. It’s a bit disheartening, especially after a hopeful spring and summer. A common refrain: “Can’t we just go back to the way things were?”

Phillip Potenziano, superintendent of the Brunswick School Department.

A friend of mine once observed, as human beings, it is in our nature to constantly work toward homeostasis. Defined as “the physiological system of higher animals to maintain internal stability” or “a state of psychological equilibrium obtained when tension or a drive has been reduced or eliminated.”

Basically, we crave order, and we’re more comfortable when we’ve “arrived” (be that a career goal or a grade on a test). We are, by nature, always trying to achieve a sense that “we reached the summit” or “we’ve completed the tasks required of us” or “life is exactly the way we think it should be.”

Let’s face it: we never really reach homeostasis (not for long, anyway). Work or school returns after vacation; that closet never stays completely organized, we age and our list of goals and desires is always … changing.

According to a recent article in the Washington Post, teachers and school administrators all over the country are in the same boat we are. The article states that everyone is being challenged:

“With a mix of optimism and trepidation, teachers and students began returning to classrooms in large numbers Monday, as the nation opens a third-straight school year upended by the pandemic.

“Educators are anxious to begin academic and emotional recovery for students knocked about by more than a year of online and hybrid learning. But as a resurgent virus inflicts fresh damage, many were forced to confront a new round of pandemic politics, with debates over vaccines and masks consuming districts and communities.”

Nobody said change was easy, but it is, without a doubt, a huge part of the way we grow. Would you want to stay in the third grade? Aren’t you curious about what happens next? Don’t you actually love the challenge when asked to shift gears?

As we approach the new year, I’m looking forward to several changes, all positive. I’m ready for students to meet the new principal at the junior high school. Our new chief academic officer is going to bring a fresh perspective, and the new athletic director is fired up about the upcoming sports seasons.

So, no, we are not “going back to the way things were,” but if we focus on what we can control (attitude, commitment, sense of community), I think we’ll be comfortable with – and hopefully learn to appreciate – change more freely.

There’s an old adage that says, “The same wind blows on us all; the only difference is the set of the sails.” How we manage change is up to us.

I hope we will all go into the new school year thinking of it as that closet: Take it one day at a time, make progress as you can, delight in your accomplishments and accept that it will never be fully organized. And that’s OK.

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