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International School Transition Resource Teams

By Barbara Schaetti, Ph.D.

The importance of transition programming in the international schools arena is becoming an accepted norm, and the responsibility of an international school in providing it an expected standard. The question is now not "why do it?" but "how to do it, along with everything else?" This workshop will review the kind of strategic approach that more and more international schools are now taking towards issues of transition by establishing "transition resource teams" Participants will be introduced to a developmental model, will discuss necessary ingredients in the process, and will review implementation at such schools as The American School of The Hague and The Bavarian International School. Participants will also consider their own communities' transition needs and possible next steps.

Advantages of a Transitions Resource Team

A transitions resource team has the potential to serve an international school community in a variety of ways. It can consolidate transition efforts by clarifying what is being done and where needs are not yet being met; supporting current efforts; and providing opportunities to "fill-in-the-gaps." It can also increase transitions expertise, addressing first the professional development of team members on the subject of transitions, and then that of other interested members of the school community. Ultimately, a transitions resource team has the potential to promote greater all-around expertise among teachers and staff, students, and parents

Transitions resource teams can provide transition education. Team members can work with other members of the community to design opportunities for students, parents, teachers and staff to learn more about managing transitions. Students can be reached through redesigned aspects of the curriculum, by providing developmental guidance sessions, and through advisor-advisee programs. In-services can be developed for teachers and staff. Parents can participate in evening and weekend workshops. Transition education can address stress management skills, management of grief and loss, conflict resolution training, explorations of cultural identity development, and considerations of the benefits and challenges and lifelong impacts of an internationally mobile childhood.

Similarly, transitions resource team members can promote transition activities, working with others in the community to ensure that each person and family arriving and leaving, whether at the beginning, end or middle of the year, receives some kind of specific transition support. A transitions resource team can also promote transition activities to support people and families staying on while those around them come and go.

Importantly, transitions resource teams can customize transitio services. As is well known, the single term "international school" covers vast differences among individual institutions. No one model of an effective transitions program will be appropriate for every school. Where to begin, on whom to focus, addressing what issues - answers to these questions and more depend on the characteristics and personalities of each individual school. Transitions resource team members know their school community; they can develop and provide flexible programming specific to its particular needs.

A transitions resource team can help institutionalize transition programming. No longer dependent on dedicated individuals acting in relative isolation, transition education and transition activities become integrated into the fabric of a school. When any one dedicated individual moves on, the rest of the team remain to carry on.

Students, families, and staff come and go from an international school throughout the school year. Because they are onsite, transitions resource team members can ensure year-round access to transition programming. They can both plan ahead, scheduling transition education as work loads and school calendars permit, and respond spontaneously, providing transition activities when specific needs present themselves.

Finally for our purposes here, a transitions resource team can enhance public relations. Expatriate communities and their corporate, diplomatic and other sponsors are beginning to expect school-based transition programming. Schools with such program are a model for others and achieve a competitive advantage in student recruitment.

For more information, contact www.transition-dynamics.com

Families in Global Transition
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