What is the Language and Culture of Positive Transitions-care?

As more schools are looking at improving their transitions-care programmes, this is a unique opportunity to develop a common language to address the challenges and benefits of building a solid transitions-care programme within and between schools.

Once students, parents and staff are well versed in the language of positive transitions-care, understand the transition cycle, and build the traditions and rituals around those different stages, the culture of positive transitions-care will start to become part of the school culture.

Ideally, when looking for a school, students, parents and staff should be able to recognise a school which will support them in their transitions, because they have already been acquainted with the language around it.

CCK - Cross Cultural Kid: A person who is living or has lived in – or has meaningfully interacted with – two or more cultural environments for a significant period of time during the first eighteen years of life. (Pollock & Van Reken, 2017)

TCK - Third Culture Kid: A person who spends a significant part of his or her first eighteen years of life accompanying parent(s) in a country that is different from at least one parent’s passport country(ies) due to a parent’s choice of work or advanced training. (Pollock & Van Reken, 2017)

Cross-Cultural Transitions-Care / Cross-Cultural Transitions Support: Supporting CCKs as they move from culture to culture or as staff and/or families move around them. (Mahoney & Barron, 2020).

Comprehensive Transitions Programme: A clearly articulated and labelled transition programme that provides activities and events to help [staff,] students, and families transition to, within and from international schools. (Risch, 2008)

Positive transitions-care: A series of systems and processes set up intentionally to support students, parents and staff successfully navigating the challenges and benefits of cross-cultural transition within and between schools.

Transitions Team: A group of school stakeholders committed to the creation and application of positive transitions-care in the school. This team should include representatives of cultures within the school community and all stakeholder groups: Administrators, Board Members, Students, Parents, Teachers and Members of Staff, Counsellors, HR, Admissions and Alumni.

Leaver: A person who leaves a place or a position.

Stayer: A person who stays and who supports Arrivers and Leavers.

Arriver: A person who arrives in a place or a position.

RAFT (framework developed by Pollock & Van Reken, 2009):

Reconciliation: Repair any relationships that need healing prior to departure. In order to make things right, forgive others and be forgiven.

Affirmation: Let people know how much they mean/meant to you before you leave (friends, family, teachers, coaches, other adults, peers etc.). This applies to those leaving and to those being left behind.

Farewell: Plan meaningful farewells ahead of time and respect individual personalities in the planning process.

Think destination: Start thinking about where you are going and intentionally plan to be involved in your next environment. Remember, it is possible to make new friends without being disloyal to old friends.

The Six Laws of Transitions:

Developed by Douglas W. Ota and explained in his book Safe Passage: How mobility affects people & what international schools should do about it (2014).

LAW I: You have to say a clear goodbye in order to say a clear hello / You have to leave well to grieve well. (In memory of David C. Pollock)

LAW II: For every connection, there is an equal and opposite connection / For a person to connect to somebody else that other person must be willing and able to make the connection.

LAW III: The Transitions Team is the Transitions Team for the Transitions Team.

LAW IV: A person’s role at a school with a high degree of turnover is subject to drift. Arrivers become stayers and stayers become leavers. People are not consciously aware of this drift. Arrivers need to be helped to consider accepting the roles and responsibilities of the stayers when the time comes.

LAW V: Humans need safe attachments to community. People in transition are looking for a community to attach to.

LAW VI: The international school should conceive of itself as a transitional attachment object for its clientele.

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