As the school year came to an end, my international students were understandably excited to go back home.
Many of them handled this excitement and stress in different ways. As a teacher it helps to prepare yourself and your students for these possible outcomes. Here are a few of the most common. A student may:
Be unable to focus at school: Normally students are easily distracted and it takes a bit of classroom management to keep the learning going. I have found that, as their leave-date approaches, a student may severely disconnect from school responsibilities. This might mean a student no longer does homework, doesn’t prepare for tests, doesn’t record notes, daydreams during class (more than usual,) etc. A student might become more jittery and hyper active. They lose the import of the responsibilities in front of them as they anticipate the major event of traveling home.
Spend less time interacting with host family and/or friends: I have watched students stop interacting with friends and host families as they emotionally prepare for their physical absence. An international student might choose not to go out with friends nor participate in school activities. Some students choose to miss major events (like their own graduation) as a way to decrease the intensity of social expectations. They will usually spend more time talking with friends and family back home as they emotionally prepare to reconnect.
Become unpleasant and disagreeable: This one is no fun for anyone involved, but makes the process of leaving much easier. Some students start acting out. They may be more ornery than usual, short tempered or argumentative. This is a way to separate emotionally.
Become sad and tearful: This happens more often with girls. Crying jags, moping around and depression can precede a return home for an international student. It is more common for boys to exhibit this type of emotional response by sleeping more than usual (sometimes even in class.) This doesn’t mean they dread going home, but it can be traumatic to leave the connections a student has worked so hard to develop over the school year.
Of course, not all students exhibit these behaviors, however, keep them in mind. Talk with the student’s friends, host families and even other teachers to help them understand what this transition may look like in an international student.