The importance of staff induction
With teacher retention and wellbeing more important than ever, Cindy Adair looks at what makes a great induction programme for international staff.
A great calling, but . . .
International teaching is a wonderful vocation. You get to teach in well-resourced schools, which boast facilities that rival many university campuses. You teach students from all over the world, who speak many languages and you become part of a diverse and interesting community. However, you must also leave behind the security of family, friends and supermarket aisles with products you recognise.
The characters who embrace this challenge are often brave, resilient souls with plenty of wanderlust. They are also highly skilled practitioners who are truly dedicated to their work.
At Bangkok Patana School we believe recruiting the right teachers is one of the most important decisions we make as a school.
Once we’ve carefully selected a candidate who has excellent subject knowledge and the ability to really connect with our students, we also believe in the importance of investing in the successful induction of that teacher (and their dependent family members) into the “Bangkok Patana family”.
Our induction begins well before the new cohort of teachers arrive in Bangkok. Our HR team assist them to navigate the essential paperwork required to relocate to a new country for work – visas, police checks, medicals and passport renewals.
Alongside this process we host a series of online calls using Microsoft Teams, so new staff can meet key faces, make connections within their cohort and access essential information. This way when we do meet in person, we’re already familiar with one another.
As one of our new Secondary Teachers put it, “It was the least apprehensive I have felt before joining a new school thanks to the wealth of information and communication through the New Staff Induction Team and reassuring Teams chats.” – Amy King
Two phased induction
One aspect of our induction programme we are constantly refining, is that of timing. Too long and our staff will feel overwhelmed with information, too slow and they’ll get anxious about the task ahead. We divide our induction into two distinct phases:
Phase 1 – Personal
Phase 2 – Professional
The personal touch is all-important in a successful induction. Our Academic Leadership team are all involved in extending a warm welcome. This starts at the airport as our Head of School and Principals are there, with a welcoming smile and an offer to help wrangle the overflowing baggage carts.
In the Personal phase, we focus on getting our staff set up in their new homes, we support them to find local supermarkets and make that all-important trip to IKEA! We show them their local park, fresh market and how to download Grab and LINE on their phone.
We tour the school and let them see their teaching space. Putting well-being first is a top priority.
As staff become settled, we transition to the more Professional phase of the induction. Here we provide a range of workshops to familiarise the cohort with key policies and procedures and introduce them to the middle leaders they will work alongside.
We demonstrate our approach to learning and teaching and help the staff navigate our academic management systems (or even just how to login). We also incorporate sessions such as “Living and Working in Thailand with Thai People” to provide cultural context to their new posting and provide some basic Thai language skills.
Friendship and support
Our induction programme aims to foster friendship and a support network among the new staff cohort. Far away from home, these friendships become very important when the honeymoon period wears off and the inevitable “bumps in the road” arise.
To facilitate this process, we include a range of optional social events. Dinner at a local Thai restaurant, family friendly pizza by the pool at our residences and a delicious Indian feast hosted by our Head of School are all on the menu.
Here one of our new staff reflects on the impact of these events,
“There were numerous wonderful, culturally enriching experiences throughout, but my personal highlight came right at the end of the induction, where we were treated to a fabulous evening river cruise. It was there that we toasted glasses to new friends, and to the experiences that we know await us in the future!” -Murray Sutcliffe
Cindy Adair is the CPD lead and cross-campus Assistant Principal for Sports and ECAs at Bangkok Patana School.
She is also the Chair of SEASAC.
Our thanks to Bangkok Patana School for providing the support images