Supporting Transition in our Community
International schools are organisations in constant transition and CDNIS is no exception. While the population here is more stable than many international schools around the world, a significant number of families, staff and administrators are experiencing a transition into or out of the school at any one time.
International mobility affects everyone, not just those in transition, and provides challenges and benefits to our school community. There are many models that seek to explain expat transition but all agree that the transition process happens in stages and may include
- pre-departure preparation- a time of mixed emotions, including anticipation and anxiety, compounded by the practical stresses of moving;
- honeymoon-the early weeks after arrival, characterised by excitement and wonder;
- crisis or culture shock-as the reality of the new life sets in and problems arise in relation to orientation;
- adaptation- reaching a “recovery plateau” after 6-12 months when the rewards can be reaped for the previous challenges and discomfort experienced.
The length of time it takes to adjust is different for each individual, dependent upon a range of circumstances and their personal dispositions.
Not only expats experience transition. Moving to a new school within Hong Kong or starting school for the first time may elicit similar experiences. Stable members of a school community also experience significant changes as teachers, administrators and families leave and others arrive to replace them.
CDNIS recognises the need to support all members of our school community during their transition period. We are keen to develop a range of transition programmes to address the challenges and maximise the benefits of international mobility and the transition experience for all who need it.
Transition programmes are most effective if they
- engage all members of the school community in a spirit of mutual support;
- are formalised and consistent, and have administrative support and commitment;
- are embedded in all aspects of the life of the school and
- include both transition activities and transition education which are equally important.
Some schools establish a transition team to coordinate and provide transition support within the school. It is usually composed of teachers, administrators, parents and students. The team oversees the development and implementation of a range of programmes, activities and resources to support all groups in the community. These may include
- assigning buddies;
- providing cultural orientation and language education;
- providing practical information and support as well as emotional support;
- providing opportunities for new members of our community to meet others and form relationships;
- providing practical and emotional support for those leaving.
CDNIS took its first steps towards the process of developing a range of transition programmes this week. The new Lower School Transition Team, made up of administrators and staff, met for the first time on Wednesday to discuss how we can improve the transition experience of new teaching staff arriving in August 2017. We talked at length about improving the information and support provided to staff prior to arrival in Hong Kong and discussed how the staff induction week should look as well as ideas for ongoing support for new staff during their first year. It is crucial if we are to retain high quality staff, that we ensure they are happy and settled both in their work and home life. This has a direct impact on student learning and is of benefit to the whole community.
The Transition Team agree that our goal should be to widen membership of our team to parents and students, to consider ways to improve the transition experience for all. When we are ready to do this, we will send out a call for willing parents to join us.
Ota, D., (2014) Safe Passage. Summertime. London.
Simens, J. (2011) Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child. summertime. London.