Why does Positive Transitions-care Matter?

Schools are in the business of learning. It’s only right that schools devote their energy to practices which get positive results for them. Learning Outcomes are regarded as most or moderately important in the majority of international schools (6).

Research by Mahoney & Barron (2020), however, indicates that transitions-care ranks low in contrast to learning outcomes. There is a contradiction here. Effective transitions-care leads to better learning outcomes. Positive transitions-care should be a much higher priority, because:

  1. Unmanaged mobility inhibits learning. Research (see below) has been circulating since the mid-1990s about the importance of addressing mobility in international schooling.

  2. International schools are transient places where student, parent and faculty goodbyes are commonplace. Ignoring the grief and loss of goodbyes can result in unresolved grief down the track. In fact, SPAN’s Governing Board Member and author of Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, Dr Ruth van Reken maintains that unresolved grief is one of the biggest challenges facing TCKs, including in the Age of Corona when so many were unable to say good goodbyes in the way they had hoped. Additionally, children imitate adults so staff and parents need to be equipped to value and role model healthy emotional wellbeing, which includes how to work through grief and loss.

  3. Knowledge is power. There is a big difference between unmanaged and managed mobility. When young people are equipped with the language of transitions and understand what to expect from transitions, they are more likely to thrive and adjust better to new surroundings.

  4. Navigating transition is a life skill. Whether it's a new job, marriage, birth of a child, divorce, retirement, death of a loved one or a global pandemic, there is no avoiding transitions. By equipping and supporting our students, parents and staff to navigate one transition, however, moving forward they will be better able to actively engage in the process of transition in all contexts of their lives. Schools have a responsibility to do that.

(6) Barron, J. & Mahoney, E. (2020): Surveying the Landscape: Common Practices, Challenges and Opportunities in International School Transitions-Care: https://globallygrounded.com/transitions-care-research/

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