It’s been a tough old time, hasn’t it? Lockdowns. Quarantine. Online learning. Isolation. More lockdowns. Frustration.
If anything has hit home during this awful time, it’s been the importance of friends and family. For many International teachers, these friends and family have remained many thousands of miles away, unable to visit, unable to comfort each other. You can’t have a hug from a face on screen.
For many, this time has meant that the bonds forged with colleagues in whichever far off land you reside have become more important than ever.
A surrogate family of sorts, a support unit. If you’re lucky. Staff wellbeing is as important as student wellbeing and I cross my fingers for you that your school knows this, appreciates it and values it.
International schools: Teachers separated from their families during Covid
Despite this lockdown love in, and this is stating the obvious perhaps, there is no substitute for family. The ones who know you best are those family and friends you left behind in rainy old Blighty and they are the people who matter the most.
In a non-Covid world, this can be easily overlooked and forgotten. International teaching is exciting, often fun, and also very time-consuming. Adding on to that the desire to explore your new surroundings and experience the culture that surrounds you with your new “friends”, it leaves little time for much else – including keeping in touch with family.
But after a year and a bit of unprecedented isolation and life-altering change, it is Zoom that has been the big winner. In these times of crisis and depression, people have turned to their friends and family at home for comfort and understanding – the reassurance that we will meet again.
They care about you, and you care about them.
Schools offering flights home
Perhaps it’s prudent for schools to remind their staff of this, to regularly touch base with home for your own sanity and a little grounding.
Family appreciation day? Friends of the World Events? The sanity of your staff is surely priority number one in order to provide the best for your students.
For when your staff crack, when it gets too much, who will be left to take your classes? Take care of your team and your team takes care of you.
When considering international teaching, one of the possible perks of the job is the annual flight packages offered by established and well-funded schools. Now more than ever, these will be a priority, a need and a comfort blanket.
The knowledge that you can fly home and see your loved ones at the end of each year, or sit around the table for Christmas dinner, is a soothing thought. Especially now, especially after the year we have had.
A perk worth saving
This has been a tough year for schools as well, of course. Income will be down and rumour has it that many schools are cutting the annual flight perk in an effort to save some money. Pray this is not the case.
Over a year of “being stuck” in a foreign land, over a year of being apart from our nearest and dearest. This will not go down well, and schools certainly need to consider this when they decide where to cut corners and save the pennies.
But it should not just be a case of getting in touch when times are bad. Hopefully, a global epiphany has occurred and people will start to realise this. Those who know you best are still at home. So don’t leave them behind, don’t forget them, don’t wait for them to call you. They’re so important.
When you are taking the time to make your mark on the world, ensure that you make the time for those who matter most to you in it. It’s an exciting planet we live on, there is so much to see. But Dorothy was right – there’s no place like home.
JD Richards is an international teacher who has been working overseas for five years