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IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Transitions: Supporting a School Community Through Change
By Thomas Longrigg 07-Jun-16
At the end of August, Beijing City International School (BCIS) ran one of its monthly Parents as Learners (PAL) Workshops, the title of which was “Transitions: Supporting Your Child Through Change.” This year’s August workshop was a broad idea on transitions; not simply focused on moving onto college as in previous years, but instead looking at the many transitions we face at all ages. Transition is an issue that we take quite seriously at BCIS, and something that we work hard to help our community to understand and appreciate. The fact is, the feeling of transition is one that we experience all throughout our lives, and so we think it’s crucial that students and parents understand the nature of transitions they will face during their time at BCIS. Supporting Our Children Led by the BCIS Counselors, the workshop in August was a highly engaging experience designed to get parents thinking and reflecting on the transitions they themselves have been through in their lives. The idea was to help the parents see that they can harness those memories and reflections to help their own children understand and overcome big and/or difficult transitions in their lives. The workshop was extremely well attended, with about 120 parents present. They relished in the activities, such as a simple opening icebreaker of shaking hands with as many parents as possible in the room in 30 seconds. Later, there was more group discussion, showing that such workshops are as much a way of bringing parents together socially as well as to simply absorb new information from our in-house experts. The counseling team used their considerable knowledge and insight to help parents tap into their own experiences and understand that those memories can really help them support their own children. Part of the IB Learner Profile is teaching our learners to be thoughtful, reflective, and caring, and in our school community we always hope that these qualities will extend to all members, not just the students. Transitions Are Lifelong When we think about transitions in our lives, a few obvious ones spring to mind. There’s the first day of school, leaving home for college, starting a new job, getting married, having children . . . and the list goes on. While these are all well-known and relatable examples, there are in fact many, many more transitions that we face, and children in school feel them quite keenly. For example, many parents might not suppose the step up from Nursery to Pre-Kindergarten is one to think about a great deal, but in fact it is. Each year, our Nursery and Pre-K teachers offer an information session to parents sharing just why that is the case. Nursery students are used to a day dominated almost exclusively by play, and they also have naptime as a regular part of their day. Moving up to Pre-K changes the schedule quite dramatically for them, and so learning about the transition is important for parents. Even after we leave school, transitions follow us through life. Every year we grow seems to present new twists and turns in the road, and all those changes present us with new challenges. While our students and parents are part of the BCIS community, we hope that we can provide an environment in which dealing with transition is made easier. Our Journey Continues BCIS continues to find opportunities for parents, students and other community members to get support in dealing with the transitions they face. These will include more information sessions, workshops, and parent meetings with teachers. This article was written in the hope that teachers in other schools may find inspiration and ideas for new approaches in their own efforts to help their communities through transition. This article was a collaboration between Aaron Allen (Elementary), Jane Farrelly (Secondary), Anthony Carman (Secondary), and Suzanne Jeffrey (University Guidance).
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