Today, the mother of one of my favourite pupils told me that the family was leaving the country. Obviously, I don’t show favouritism, but as a teacher, I do occasionally, secretly have favourite pupils. You know, the kids that are just a dream to work with. This particular child is the ideal student – hard worker, fast learner, perfect behaviour, brilliant at almost everything, eager to please, extremely funny, kind, thoughtful etc etc. This is all on top of having English as a second language. She is an absolute superstar! Needless to say, I got quite emotional.
I’m currently teaching on a gorgeous little island in Thailand – and it is very transient. The school itself isn’t transient. It has been going for 11 years. However the body of the school is. Teachers, pupils, parents – they don’t hang around too long. My school is full of students from approximately 30 different countries. And sometimes, for whatever reason, they either must leave or choose to leave.
Since September, I’ve had five new students and two leavers – and it’s only January. But that’s just the game I play in International Schools. After all, we as International teachers do the same thing. In the last six years, I’ve worked in four different schools and three different countries. I spend time and effort developing relationships with these tiny humans, but more often than not, I don’t get to see them grow. This is the difference between working abroad and working in the UK. At home, even though you might not teach the children anymore, you still see them in school or get to hear about the progress they are making.
It is the same situation with colleagues. In the UK, there are teachers that have worked together for years and years. Teacher friends become your best friends. There is no exception to this in international schools. Teacher friends still become your best friends; however, you usually stop working together after a year or two and they then become long distance best friends. The silver lining here is that you usually end up with lots of best friends all over the world – and have a free place to stay when you visit!
So today, I came to the realisation that this was the world I chose to be in. Although there might be fleeting opportunities to teach these children (and befriend the teachers), these moments are precious. I might only be in their lives for a short time, but I could still make a big impact. And that is why I chose to be a teacher in the first place.
There are also many positives for the children. One of them is that they become incredibly adaptable. The children barely notice when a new face enters. I myself began teaching in my current school mid year, in January of last year and there wasn’t a single eyelid batted. The children of international schools show how resilient they are by welcoming new students into their lives and classroom with open arms. They thrive on building new relationships. They become very sociable and confident as a result, and this is such a huge plus in a school where the majority of children have English as an additional language.
Another positive for the children is that they are learning from teachers that are usually excited to be in a new environment and want to make a positive impact to their new school. I also like that the children get to experience the teaching styles of many different teachers. It’s a win-win.
So, yes, children and adults come and go. But this doesn’t need to be a problem. Enjoy every moment. Enjoy now. It is all worth it in the end.