In the world of international teaching, you often get to practice using the word goodbye. The end of the first semester has come and gone, and as both a parent and a teacher, I have to help the students in my care deal with the loss of classmates and friends.
The companies that bring families to our school from countries all over the globe often make the decision to end an employees time abroad before the start of the new year. This means that the winter holiday while greatly anticipated is also a time for tearful goodbyes.
For many people making friends can be tough and with the frequent changing of the student body some students can be reluctant to make an effort to make friends when they may be gone in a year (sometimes even sooner).
I have talked to a few students recently about the difficulty of making and maintaining friendships within a small international school setting. They stated that the fear very significant possibility of friends moving away makes them hesitate to form bonds.
But, what is high school without close friends to laugh and hang out with? One of the things I look back on with joy when I think about my high school years were the three girlfriends I walked the hallways of East High with. Having a group of friends is essential to the mental health and wellbeing of everyone, especially students in an international school who may be away from everything that is culturally familiar.
As a teacher, I try to have a classroom culture and fosters positive peer interaction.
Allowing students to chat (about off topic things) both to me and with peers.
Chatting with students during off times (at lunch, in the hallway) helps me learn more about them and may allow me to help them to make connections with another student. i.e., I know that student A is really into fashion and I learn by chatting with student B that he is also into fashion. I can use that knowledge to play friend matchmaker. (I usually do this with new students or students who are having trouble making friends.)
Loss is inevitable and being in the world of international schools means that you are always saying goodbye to old friends and welcoming new friends. As a teacher, I try to be there to support students when they are dealing with the loss of a friend, and I encourage them to be open to meeting new friends.
A teacher from the United States of America, currently teaching abroad. I teach science to middle and high school students. I enjoy reading and doing nerd things.