If you have ever been to school, have ever been a teacher, or have ever been a parent, then you know how important teachers are in children’s lives.
Teachers do so much more than teach content – they are mentors, guides, supporters, cheerleaders, and so much more.
In international schools, especially when children and young people live far away from extended family and support systems, teachers can be called upon to support children and young people as they go through difficult times. These may be times of transition and upheaval, times when a young person’s best friend is moving away to another country, times when young people are preparing to go to university, sometimes in their passport country and without their parents.
One thing we have heard from teachers is that although they very much want to support the children and young people they work with, they often don’t feel prepared to, or they feel they don’t have the training to do so.
A former colleague tells of a time one of his students had to leave his school because her family were relocating to another country. She was twelve years old and one of her classmates was her closest friend in the world; they took every class together and spent much of their free time in each other’s company. Their friendship was typically intense for this age group, made more so by the constant fear of separation characteristic of international schools, and as the date approached, they began to visit our colleague during break times, after school and even over lunch.
Our colleague did what he could; he wanted to help and offered generalised advice, but upon reflection he realised he did not have the skills or training to thoroughly address the children’s concerns. He recommended they go see the school counselor, but they wanted him to be their support person, as he was the teacher who knew them best. The leaving ceremony, and the parting that followed, was fraught with the grief of imminent loss, and our colleague felt helpless. He vowed to learn more about the Third Culture Kids he taught in international schools, in particular, about how to support this population through the difficulties associated with transition.
This former colleague was one of the many cases that has inspired us to create our newest course, Supporting Children and Young People in International Schools. In the course, we begin by exploring what makes international schools and Third Culture Kids unique, then move on to understanding the impact of transition, and finally we explore how teachers and schools can support children and young people in international schools. Our aim is to provide a course that gives teachers and school leaders a solid understanding of the social-emotional development of children in international schools, how transition impacts them, and practical ways teachers and schools can support children and young people throughout. We look at interventions at the individual, classroom, division, and whole school levels.
If you work with the globally mobile population and would like to develop the skills to deal with the difficulties associated with this lifestyle, you could consider our course, Supporting Children and Young People in International Schools, an essential component of your professional development. You may find that this training makes you more attractive to potential employers during the next round of recruitment, but most of all, you will have learned how to address the kinds of issues you are likely to encounter for as long as you teach in international schools.