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Top 10 Ways To Help Your Staying Students

December 5, 2017

…It the first day of the school year and I am going back to the same school where I have been for five years now. It is the same building, but to me it is not the same school. My best friend, Ben, moved away and will not be back. Two other friends who I have known since first grade moved away as well. I am supposedly returning to the familiar, and already know exactly who my teacher will be, but I feel so incredibly lonely. At recess I will miss my ‘to go to buddies’. Who will I sit next to at lunch? Maybe I should not have spent so much time with Ben in the last two months of last school year. Maybe I should have spent more time hanging out with Mike, the new friend I made in January after the winter break. However, Mike just told me he will probably leave at the end of this school year…once again I will be left behind.


Being a stayer is not easier than being the leaver or the arriver. At times, it might even be more difficult.

A few years ago, when I showed one of my (international school) friends my newly published book (B at Home), she read the back blurb with interest and then turned to me with a slightly reproachful look.

“Great,” she said, “I love that you wrote a book for all those kids who move around a lot, it must be hard for them…but do you think you could write another one for people like me, who never moved, but always had to say goodbye to at least one good friend at the end of the school year?”

That’s when I realized it never occurred to me what it was like to be a stayer. I had been the leaver and the arriver so many times and had always felt envious of the stayers. I had been so busy thinking about the predicament that international school kids found themselves in when they had to move around a lot that I had never even questioned how the ones felt who were always left behind and expected to welcome each new lot with open arms.

Without even realizing it, I have become the stayer. We have settled in Switzerland, have been working at the same international school for almost eight years and neither of our daughters have ever moved. My best friend came and went. My parents are thinking about moving back to my home country (the Netherlands). My daughters have had to deal with classmates, and other loved ones, moving. And we have stayed. And saying goodbye is just as hard as when I used to leave. Even when we stay, we have to learn to navigate the painful goodbyes and must continue to embrace the hellos.


Interestingly enough, the stayers are often not asked how they feel about the constant transitions that take place around them, and therefore within them. However, research tell us mobility and moving hurts and it affects our students’ learning: the leavers, the arrivers, and the stayers[1]. In this article, we have addressed the leavers, and this article the arrivers. So how can we help our staying students?

 1. Comfort instead of encourage

Acknowledge their feelings and the fact that they are staying. While the leavers are recognized and are busy saying their goodbyes, the stayers might feel neglected. They will not only feel sad, but perhaps angry. They might direct those emotions at the same person they are so apprehensive to say goodbye to. I will never forget when, at the age of thirteen, a good friend told me to “just go to your stupid Luxembourg” a few days before moving. Although her words initially hurt me a lot, I later realized this was her way of expressing her sadness as well as her frustration. The stayers need to feel that their feelings are heard as well, and they need to understand that it is okay to feel many different emotions.

2. RAFT[2]

Pollock, Pollock and Van Reken encourage anybody in transition to build a RAFT (Reconciliation, Affirmation, Farewell and Think Destination). Help the stayers ensure that their relationships are intact before leaving. The emotional burden of carrying unresolved conflicts is equally challenging for the stayers as for the leavers (reconciliation). They also need to have time to recognize and thank those that are leaving for being in their lives (affirmation) and they need to be able to say their goodbyes (farewell). When the leavers are thinking about themselves in a new place, the stayers will be thinking of the empty place left behind. The stayers will also have reinvent their social circles and routines. In the new edition of Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds (2017), another acronym is provided to help younger students process the above-mentioned steps, SHIP: Saying Sorry and I forgive you, Heartfelt thanks for each other, It’s time to say goodbye, Plan for the New Place[3]. Alternatively, in the case of the stayers, the P could stand for Plan to Stay.

3. AFT: Move AFT on your RAFT [4]

Doug Ota, psychologist and author of Safe Passage: How mobility affects people and what international schools should do about it (2014), encourages all persons facing transitions to question themselves in terms of their Actions (what am I actively doing to be involved?), their Feelings (How am I feeling about seeing friends leave and about making new friends? Do I feel a sense of belonging in my school community?) and Thoughts (Is this home now?). Not only is it important to address these actions, feelings and thoughts in the Leaving and Arriving part of the mobility cycle, but also in the STaying part, to “produce a cumulative change that will LAST”[5].

4. Give them the CCK/TCK language

The famous words of wisdom from Winnie the Pooh ring so true (“How lucky are we to have something so good that makes saying goodbye so hard”) for those who leave, but also for those who stay. Help your students understand what it means to be a Cross Cultural Kid (CCK) and Third Culture Kid (TCK)[6] and how that influences their identity. Apart from celebrating the positives, they also need a language to express the challenges and grief that goes along with saying goodbyes, time after time again. Your students are never too young to understand the CCK/TCK language. These days, there is a list of TCK literature available to children. Stories about the TCK experience, especially fiction, will give them characters and situations that they can identify with. It is often easier to connect to how someone else’s feelings than to adequately express your own emotions. Children should know that they are not alone and that the CCK/TCK definition is rooted in the idea that TCK children find that “the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar backgrounds”.[7]

 5. Help them take ownership of their school

The stayers play a vital role in the well-being of those who are arriving to the school. If they feel a sense of pride and ownership of their school community this positive energy will likely transfer to those who are new. In his book, Safe Passage: How mobility affects people and what international schools should do about it (Summertime Publishing, 2014), Doug Ota mentions the importance of providing the stayers the opportunity to be an instrumental part of a transition program. Not only will offering leadership positions help students develop and gain experiences that can help them in their future endeavors, but it will also help them feel valued as a staying member of the community. When stayers might be busy tending to the arrivers and leavers at certain times of the year, it is important for the admin and staff to recognize and support the student leaders who are helping their peers.

6. Set up a mentor/ buddy system

Help stayers become buddies for the new students. Depending on what your school already offers in terms of transitions, there is a variety of possibilities for stayers to become buddies or mentors. Stayers could show the new students around on orientation day before school starts (consider giving them a t-shirt or something else to distinguish them from the other students). Alternatively, with older students they could become ‘mentors’ to the new students and already get in touch with arriving students a few weeks or months before their actual arrival. Either way, by allowing the stayers to have an essential role in the well-being of new students, the stayers could also benefit from the experience of reaching out to others while saying goodbye to their friends.

7. Find ways to create stay in touch

Help your students think of ways to stay in touch. Teenagers have obvious access to numerous social media platforms. You might want to remind them that there is a thin line between living your friendships mostly on social media rather than in real life, and help them find ways to establish a healthy balance. For younger students and with their parents’ permission of course, you could have Skype conversations with the leaver(s) and the stayers in your classroom. I recently had a delightful conversation with a student that left in the middle of the school year and his classmates.

8. Throw a goodbye party

A goodbye party is not just for the ones who are leaving. Give the students who are staying the opportunity to give letters, keepsakes, or little gifts to those departing, but also think of ways for the stayers to receive something similar. The leavers often take the signed t-shirt (or something similar) with them and the stayers often having nothing tangible to hold onto. When one of my daughters’ best friends left, her friend gave her a beautiful frame with pictures of their time together that my daughter still has on her wall.

9. Throw a welcome to the new kids party

The students who are leaving will be in the midst of settling into their new destination. During this time, the stayers can open their doors and lives to the students who arrive. Help you students understand that they can still miss their old friends but should need feel any guilt about forming new friendships. Encourage them to reach out to new people, especially if these stayers are the ones feeling just as lonely at the beginning of the year. Devote some special time and attention to helping students to get to know the new people in their lives. Ensure that you not only keep an eye on those that are new, but also those who feel left behind. Although they might become more apprehensive about saying hello, help them understand that relationship fatigue is part of being a TCK, but remind them that each goodbye did initially start with a hello, and that the moments in between are often very much worth it.

10. Remind yourself, as a teacher, that no learning will take place until your students feel safe and secure in their new surroundings

Even if those surroundings may appear familiar to those who stay, the student who stays may feel like they are entering a whole new universe in which they will have to redefine who they are every single time they say goodbye. Remind yourself, as a human being, transitions affect all of us in our international schools. We must support each other, our students, and their families in order for all of us to thrive through them.

This article was written by International School Community member Valérie Besanceney. Over the past eleven years, Valérie has been a primary school teacher at five different international schools on four different continents. Valérie is also the author of the children’s book B at Home: Emma Moves Again (Summertime Publishing, 2014). It is a fictional memoir about the experiences of a ten-year-old girl and her teddy bear who have to move yet again. During the different stages of another relocation, Emma’s search for home takes root. As the chapters alternate between Emma’s and her bear’s point of view, Emma is emotionally torn whereas B serves as the wiser and more experienced voice of reason. My Moving Booklet (Summertime Publishing, 2015) is workbook that can be used with or without the chapter book and intended to help children to welcome the new challenges and adventures that lie ahead of them, together with their parents and teachers. It is available in English and French. For more information on her books and the topic of Third Culture Kids, please visit her website: www.valeriebesanceney.com.


[1] Ota, Douglas W. (2014). Safe Passage: How mobility affects people and what international schools should do about it. Great Britain: Summertime Publishing.

[2] Pollock, David C., Van Reken, Ruth E., and Pollock, Michael V. (2017). Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds. Boston: Nicholas Brealey Yarmouth. P. 240.

[3] Pollock, David C., Van Reken, Ruth E., and Pollock, Michael V. (2017). Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds. Boston: Nicholas Brealey Yarmouth. P. 347.

[4] Ota, Douglas W. (2014). Safe Passage: How mobility affects people and what international schools should do about it. Great Britain: Summertime Publishing. P. 182.

[5] Ota, Douglas W. (2014). Safe Passage: How mobility affects people and what international schools should do about it. Great Britain: Summertime Publishing. Pp 182-186.

[6] Pollock, David C., Van Reken, Ruth E., and Pollock, Michael V. (2017). Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds. Boston: Nicholas Brealey Yarmouth (chapter 2 and 3).

[7] Definition of TCK by David C. Pollock in the TCK Profile seminar material, Interaction, Inc., 1989, 1.


Barron, Jane (www.globallygrounded.com). “6 Steps Towards Being a Successful Stayer in an International School”. Found on: https://globallygrounded.com/2017/02/28/6-steps-towards-being-a-successful-stayer-in-an-international-school/. Originally published in Vol. 31 No. 3 February 2017 The International Educator

Ota, Douglas W. (2014). Safe Passage: How mobility affects people and what international schools should do about it. Great Britain: Summertime Publishing.

Pollock, David C., Van Reken, Ruth E., and Pollock, Michael V. (2017). Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds. Boston: Nicholas Brealey Yarmouth.

Photo credit: free images from Pixabay.com

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Six Ways to Impress at an International School Recruitment Fair

November 30, 2017

2017 is coming to a close, which means it’s that time of year to start considering your next possible career moves. Are you ready to explore the opportunities? If so what do you do next? One of the best ways to get an idea of what’s out there is by attending an international educator’s recruitment fair.

recruitment fair

Explore CRS are running our annual Fairs again in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi early next year. These are conducted over the course of 3 days each where we invite hundreds of candidates to meet with elite schools from across wider Asia and The Middle East. These events provide both schools and educators a chance to connect with each other and seek new opportunities on both sides to build faculty staff and careers. We also invite attending schools to run professional development workshops. These will be on a variety of topics and provide a unique opportunity for the schools to showcase their establishment and core mission/values to interested candidates.

We like to ensure that our events maintain a collegial and social atmosphere without too stressful or competitive an environment. It’s our aim to make the Fairs a pleasant and friendly experience for everyone involved without the highly pressured tone that can sometimes be felt at other recruitment events. With this in mind, we will usually select around 25 schools to attend per Fair, so we can still offer a variety of options to candidates.

We also hold a candidate and recruiter mixer after the first day of the Fair. This is a relaxed and informal drinks and canapés evening, courtesy of Explore CRS so attendees can relax and network after a busy and exciting day.

So how does an educator stand out amongst the crowd at the Fair when they’re trying to find the next job of their dreams?

recruitment fair

6 ways to impress at an international education recruitment fair

• Research the schools who are attending – check out who’s coming in advance and do your homework. As well as qualifications and experience, schools are looking for candidates that want to embrace their school culture and values. If you have read up beforehand and feel you would be a great fit – let that show.

• Don’t be afraid to approach the schools and sell yourself – it may seem intimidating, but this is a jobs fair. If you want to get noticed – you need to push yourself and put your best foot forward. There’s an allotted time within which to make a great impression and ensure you get yourself an interview.

• Have plenty of copies of your CV ready to hand – you will need to hand a lot of these out so make sure they are organized and easily accessible whilst moving from stand to stand.

• Make time to speak to fellow candidates as well as the recruiting schools – there will be hundreds of other educators there all in the same boat as you. They may be able to share useful information with you. Which school is worth talking to? Which ones didn’t seem to be as worthwhile?

• Get your pitch prepared – the open session when you are trying to talk to potential schools is busy and there are a lot of other people also trying to get an interview lined up. Make sure you don’t waste any time when its your turn in front of the recruiters. Its your moment to win them over!

• Dress the part – it may seem obvious, but this is your chance to make a great first impression. Make sure you are professionally turned out to present yourself in the best possible light.

recruitment fair

At Explore CRS we recruit international teachers and provide consultancy services to the international school sector, with a particular focus on the wider Asia region. Based in Shanghai, we know what operating in this sector means for daily life and work.

Our primary concern is ensuring we provide an honest and efficient service to bring the right people together. It is important to us to understand a schools’ vision and a teaching candidates’ career goals. It’s our job to bring these two elements together and find the right fit.

If you are interested in progressing your international teaching career, then we would be delighted to help you take the next steps towards your new role. Please contact us at info@explorecrs.com or visit www.explorecrs.com for more information.

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International School Hiring Season Trends for 2017-2018

October 11, 2017

When it comes to landing a position at an International School, there are several ways candidates can increase their desirability in the eyes of the employer outside of the usual suspects (Degree in education, teaching license). Of course, a degree in education and teaching license will go a long way and there are some schools that do not look beyond this, with some International schools there are other factors that can be taken into account. Here are some things you can do to help you land that international school position you have been looking at:

hiring trends

Curriculum Experience

Although there are many different curriculums, the big three curriculums in International Education are British (Key stage/GCSE/A-Levels), American (Common Core/AP Level), and IB. Included in this for Earl Childhood Education is Montessori kindergartens. Having experience, or even taking a course in one of these will increase your hireability if this is the curriculum that the school you are applying for uses. The school will be able to see you have a level of familiarity with their materials which should help with the transition into the school. Simply put, it increases your dependability in the eyes of the school.

On a related theme, having consistency in your resume and experience is something that International schools do take into account. Being able to show a level of reliability with previous positions where contracts were completed, or maybe even extended, is great. International schools are looking for candidates who will stay with their school for many years. Address any gaps or potential red flags in your resume, as being proactive and explaining experience will prevent hiring managers minds from presuming the worse.

hiring trends

Professional Image

An International school is always looking to portray a professional image, and therefore want their teachers to do the same. Responding to emails in a timely manner, being on time for the interview and dressing smart seem obvious, but at the same time are essential. Also, be sure to do your research on the school beforehand by looking through their website, furthermore looking at the LinkedIn profiles of some of their current teachers is a smart move. By looking at people they have already decided to hire in the past, you can generate a good idea on the kind of people they are looking for. Whilst looking at current teachers LinkedIn profiles, be sure to update your own LinkedIn profile as well as social media accounts to ensure you are portraying the right image you want to give.

hiring trends

Showing Initiative

International schools like their teachers to show initiative and a willingness to take on responsibility. Be sure to show examples of this in your resume, for example if you have been involved in any coaching or extra-curricular activities. Linked back to point number one in this article, showing initiative by taking courses in a curriculum is great and highlights how serious you are about teaching in an international school, and about how you want to improve as a teacher.

hiring trends


Being flexible with certain requirements will improve chances of landing a position at an International school. For example, a level of flexibility with the school’s location can help, as International schools in certain cities and countries find it harder to attract teachers than in other areas. Another area which can help to be flexible on, if you are capable and comfortable on doing so, is the subject that you will teach. Some schools may find themselves in the situation where a candidate who can teach a couple of subjects in a hybrid role is exactly what they are looking for.

hiring trends


This article was submitted by guest author Teaching Nomad. They are an American owned and operated education recruitment company based in Shanghai, China. Their goal and purpose is to help great teachers find great teaching jobs. Year round, they have hundreds of teaching job vacancies. Whether your goal is to be an ESL teacher or teach in an international school, they have a teaching job for you. You can browse jobs online here for the latest job openings. Teaching Nomad makes finding a job teaching in China easier, so please feel free to reach out and contact them with any questions or inquiries!

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Keeping Up to Date With Policy and Practice at International Schools

October 2, 2017

Teachers, heads of department and principals in International Schools want to keep up with the latest in educational thinking – but given that they are often following curricula, policy and best practice set thousands of miles away from where they teach, what’s the best way to do it?


The wealth of resources available on the internet is the obvious starting point, but the problem is how to filter out the best resources.

In the twenty or so years that I’ve been involved in publishing educational materials, I’ve come up with the following ways of keeping in touch.

  1. Get regular updates from reliable, trustworthy sources who do some of the searching and filtering for you. My list is below – form your own and keep reviewing it so you know you’re getting good quality information (and not too much of it).
  2. Form a research group with colleagues. This could be in the form of a book group, picking a recent educational title and discussing it in a local cafe, an online discussion group, or a more in-depth action research group within your school, with neighbouring schools or online. There are plenty of ‘how to’ guides online – try this blog as a starting point.


  1. Try to find some local events to visit so you can network with colleagues and hear directly from researchers. The researchED group, for example, runs events all over the world – upcoming events at the time of writing include New York, Toronto and Amsterdam as well as their longer-established UK events. They are teacher-led, research-focused and very, very popular.

My list of policy updates

These are the best policy updates I’ve seen and the ones that I find most useful. This is a UK-flavoured list as that’s where my experience lies, and I know many of you teach a British or British-influenced curriculum; it would be great to hear from US curriculum colleagues as to where you would go for similar advice.

  • The Education Endowment Foundation research update service.
  • The Education Policy Institute newsletter (sign up on their home page or follow them on twitter via @EduPolicyInst).
  • Schoolsweek and its editor Laura McInerney (on twitter as @miss_mcinerney).
  • UK government policy announcements are also very useful – you can sign up to them by first searching on this page then entering your email address.
  • Steve Besley’s Policy Watch.
  • Global education news alerts from the OECD.

I hope you found this useful – and if you have a spare 5 minutes and have experience teaching primary in an International School, I would also appreciate it if you could help me out on a research project that we are doing into the various international primary curricula and fill in this quick survey – many thanks in advance.


Sam Derby is a Director of Oriel Square Limited, a strategy and publishing consultancy specialising in education. Find out more here.

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What To Expect When You’re Going To Study Abroad

June 11, 2017

Studying abroad offers students many wonderful opportunities and experiences that they just cannot get at home. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that studying abroad is a popular option for many who are looking at a post-secondary education. Just like any major decision in life, there are Pros and Cons to consider when studying abroad. For those that are doing this for the first time, here are some things you can expect when studying abroad:

Expect a Language Barrier at First 

If you are choosing to study abroad, there is a good chance you will be heading somewhere that has a different national language than you are used to. This is one of those factors that works as both a pro and a con. At the start, it will seem negative as you learn to adjust, learn the language, and figure things out. However, over time, this will be a positive experience because you will be learning a new language which can only help you down the road in your education and professional life.

In order to adjust to a language barrier, be sure to enroll in a language class as soon as possible. If you do not want to take a class, you can always use an app or some sort of audio CD that teaches you the basics of the language. Additionally, you will need to immerse yourself in the local culture. Locals are often very helpful and patient when you are trying to learn a new language or culture.

Study Abroad

Expect a Bit of Homesickness

Even if you are excited and anxious to start your studies abroad, it is still perfectly normal to feel at least a little homesick. This is just part of the adjustment period and it will become less noticeable over time. Find ways to stay connected to your life back at home whether it is through video chats, emails, messages, or even postcards. This connection with home and your loved ones will help to keep you grounded and feeling positive.

Expect Things to Feel Overwhelming and Confusing at First

When you head to a different country, you will be dealing with finding a place to live, finding transportation to and from the school and other places you need to visit. You might also be looking for part-time work if allowed, meeting new friends, and getting used to an entirely new way of life. This can be rather overwhelming especially since it is all happening at first.

Again, it is important to remind yourself that this is a temporary feeling. As you start to familiarize yourself with a new place, you will feel more comfortable, confident and those feelings of confusion will be a distant memory.

One of the best ways you can fight these feelings is to get out there and make some new friends. They can help to make you feel more welcomed, help you learn your way around, introduce you to the best places to eat or hang out, and also introduce you to their circle of friends. Meeting people will also prevent you from feeling isolated, which can happen when studying abroad.

Get Your Finances in Order Before You Leave 

Even though we are living in a global economy where countries are more connected than ever, it is still a good idea to get your finances in order before you leave. Get yourself set up with an online banking account so you can access it with ease from any destination in the world. This will allow you to make bill payments, see your balance, and transfer money any time.

You will also want to familiarize yourself with the local currency and know how much it’ is worth when stacked against your home currency.

Study Abroad

Go in With an Open Mind

Keep an open mind when studying abroad. Do not automatically assume that things may be one way or the other – difficult or surprisingly easy. Prepare yourself the best you can, and take things one day at a time. Soak up the culture and the people. Enjoy the new adventure in life. Do not limit yourself by thinking negatively or basing things on inaccurate assumptions. Embrace this wonderful opportunity without any hindrances. An open mind will truly allow you to make the most of studying abroad.

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience

Studying abroad is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that can enrich your life in ways you never thought possible. With that said, there is a bit of an adjustment period and this is completely normal. Knowing what to expect can help you make it through that adjustment period much quicker.

Study Abroad Punyaa Metharom has always harbored a love for teaching.

He has been teaching English as an Additional Language, English, and Writing at Bromsgrove International School in Thailand for eight years.

When he isn’t teaching, he loves to travel around the country and beyond. Punyaa wants to have a firm grasp on the world so his students can as well.

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