FAQ - General:
Before there was an ACSI PFO2Go course there was a 10-day, in-person, training program called “PreField Orientation” or just PFO. PFO was where individuals and families heading overseas to international Christian schools around the world would gather to learn about how make their coming transition as smooth as possible.
ACSI’s PreField Orientation program was designed to help individuals who are about to join an international school to start their new assignment with more confidence, transition more successfully, work with Third Culture Kids more effectively and…possibly stay longer as a result.
- Culture Track. The culture track introduces you to what culture is, gives you tools to engage wisely with a new culture, and tips to navigate the differences.
- The TCK Profile. The TCK profile track takes you on a journey of discovery into the fascinating and complex world of Third Culture Kids and gives you some tips on how to work effectively with them.
- Transition Track. The transition track will prepare you for what is coming your way as you make your international location move. You may have experienced international travel before, but this time you are no longer a tourist.
- Child Safety Track. This track will introduce you to the basics of child safety in your work and ministry at an international Christian school.
- Opening and closing sessions. In the opening sessions you will be introduced to the big world of international Christian education. The closing sessions will cover well-being, risk mindset and a course ending blessing.
- Teacher Track. In this optional track, we focus on a Christian philosophy of education in the overseas school setting.
- Boarding Track. In this optional track, we covers a myriad of issues that will help your new dorm staff start well in your boarding program.
- At the time of registration, you will be given access to ACSI’s PFO2Go Community Group. This will come with a welcome and a URL link and initial password to the site (you can change your password later). You will need this to access all course materials (guides, resources, and videos).
- All video content is password protected. This password lives on the PFO2Go Community home page.
- We recommend that you bookmark the course page in community.
- After registration and before you begin the course, your new school should appoint an advisor (a seasoned staff member) to work with you to help you get started, if not it is possible to take the course solo…
- Taking the course solo
- You can take the course solo or with a friend and without direction for your new school. Ideally someone from your new school should be in touch with you about your progress through the course, if not, it is still possible to have a good learning experience in the course.
- Taking the course as a group
- You can take the course in a group setting (in-person or remote) led by your advisor from your new school where you watch the videos together and discuss as a group.
- There is also the flipped group setting where you watch the videos solo and discuss later in a group or with your advisor.
- Speed. Some will go through the content over several consecutive days. Some groups will go through the content, one session at a time over several months. This is up to your school and advisor.
If someone were to binge all the videos and engage with the supplied reflection and discussion times (we don’t recommend this) it would take approximately 11-12 hours (see the relaxed pacing guide for a session times and video lengths). Again, we don’t recommend this approach because time is required to focus on the issues and reflect deeply. We think the discussion times may be some of the most valuable aspects of PFO2Go.
Crossroads Christian Academy in Panama took their new staff through PFO2Go over several months doing one session every two weeks. Their schedule is included in the resources section of the course.
This will be up to each individual school. From our side, we designed the learner guide to make you think and then discuss with others. Your school may ask you to submit written answers, some may not. A small notebook, or a notetaking file on your computer might be a great accompaniment to your learning. No matter, it is important to fully engage with the content, the questions, and the discussions.
- A Learner Guide for the participants.
- An Advisor Guide for the specialist at each hiring school.
- 5.5 hours of video content spread over 16 engaging video presentations.
- 6 other inspiring short videos to encourage your heart.
- 4 thought-provoking Bible studies from the book of I Peter.
- Approximately 6 hours of reflection and discussion activities.
- A Pacing Guide or two is given as suggestions.
- A full listing of related course resources.
- Full Access to the PFO2Go Community Group for fellowship, questions, and interaction.
PFO2Go costs $199 USD for each participant and includes all course content and resources. Married couple should register separately.
PFO2Go is free for course Advisors.
The teacher and boarding track are optional role-specific additions to PFO2Go. Once you’ve taken the CORE sessions (Transition, Culture, TCK profile, etc.) you can move on to one of the role specific tracks. If neither one applies to your situation you can skip these tracks.
Teachers should take the teacher track as it will introduce a Christian philosophy of education for the overseas school setting.
Persons joining a boarding program at an international school (roles that involve care-giving in a boarding setting like dorm parent or residence assistant) should work with their new boarding supervisor to go through the boarding track.
FAQ - Participants:
Making a major move to a new country and/or new culture can be both exciting and stressful. Over many years of observation and experience we have learned that setting a right mindset learned through PFO2Go can help a new hire better navigate and anticipate the coming challenges.
This is a great question, and we are so glad that you are headed to serve in an international Christian school. We have found that individuals who have spent a significant amount of their growing up years outside of their passport country make outstanding additions to an international school community. In many cases, their transition to a new location and job can be smoother than others, but not always. PFO2Go will help you explore some areas that you may have missed along the way and will enhance your ability to be a highly functioning staff member. One more thing, because of the nature of the PFO2Go course, your active participation with other learners taking the course will enhance their understanding as you share your TCK life with them.
Your international experience will be invaluable to your new school and will likely help you transition smoother than most new staff. However, we still believe that taking PFO2Go will help you process things in a new way. If nothing else, the course will open up discussions about life in your specific school community and location with your advisor and possibly a cohort of incoming staff. You don’t want to miss either angle.
Absolutely. To do well with PFO2Go we recommend approaching the course with a humble heart, the spirit of a learner, and a mind that is open to explore new ideas and concepts. It will be vitally important to be willing and ready to engage with the content and with others like your advisor and cohort of fellow learners.
We also ask you to join-in with a prayerful heart. Ask God to use this course to lead you deeper into the calling he has placed upon your life.
Originally, PFO was offered every summer to new staff heading to an international school before they arrived, thus the term, “PreField”. We still think prefield is a good time to take the course but no longer do we insist upon. In some of the course presentations you may sense that this is a “know before you go” course, but we have also learned that this learning is fantastic whenever when it is taken.
Yes. Your role really does not matter regarding transition surprises and stress. PFO2Go will help you anticipate and prepare for those highs and lows and navigate them successfully. If you are married with differing roles, it’s all the more important that both members of the couple work through these issues together.
The same holds true even if the spouse has no role at the hiring school.
Yes, it is possible to take PFO2Go solo. If that is your situation, we would recommend that you find an interested friend to discuss what you are learning. If you would like to be part of a PFO2Go group, please reach out to us and we will see if we can find a remote group for you to join.
Yes. Upon completion of PFO2Go you are eligible to earn 1.2 CEUs. You will need to use the CEU claim form found in the resources tab of PFO2Go.
CEUs are valuable to certified teachers and school leaders. If you are joining your international school to work in a non-academic area CEUs may not be beneficial to you.
Individuals who complete the PFO2Go course can earn up to 1.2 CEUs. PFO2Go CEUs are in the Professional category.
FAQ - Advisors and School Leaders:
You’ve spent a lot of time and funds seeking and recruiting the very best hires you can find. The very last thing you want to see is one of your new hires arrive on location only to struggle with typical transition and cultural adjustments. With the help of an advisor from your team the PFO2Go course helps your new staff learn about some of the challenges ahead, opens important discussions, and gets them started for a positive and successful first year and hopefully beyond.
PFO2Go will also provide ample opportunity for you to bring up other specifics about life in your school and community.
- The advisor’s role is unpacked in detail in the Advisor Guide. Ask us for access if you are considering getting involved.
- PFO2Go is designed to include the active involvement of an experienced advisor in the lives of the learners. We built this course assuming that each learner would have an advisor that will set the PFO2Go course pace, check on learner progress, and hold discussion with the learner around the important topics that are presented throughout the course.
- We view the advisor as a person who has the experience to guide new staff from their current location to their new posting at your school. An advisor is someone who has “been there, done that” and has a heart for new staff and the people skills to go with it. An advisor is one that loves answering questions that new staff will undoubtedly have and one who has the patience and heart of a teacher - one who loves helping new staff shine.
- The course can be taken with limited advisor input, but that is not our preference. We believe adult learners that can process and interact with a key advisor from their school will learn better and deeper and ultimately serve well at their new appointment. If you are unable to provide active support to the learners throughout the course, you will need to at least get your learners started and set up with some expectations for how they will demonstrate their learning to you and then do an in-person follow up with you when you are together on campus.
- In short, the advisor does the following things.
- Sets the expectation for their learner’s progress.
- Sets the pace of the course for their learners.
- Checks in with their learners from time to time.
- Leads discussion times either in groups or with individuals.
- Knows the materials ahead of the learners and comes prepared to advise their learners each step of the way.
- Prepares a schedule and things to cover related to the course.
- Shares their own experiences of transition, culture, TCKs and adds specific color and background related to the specific school community and local culture.
Yes, you can register more than one advisor.
Yes. An advisor can earn the same CEUs (1.2 CEUs) as the learners for going through the course with their new staff. However, the award can only be granted one time! In other words, you cannot keep earning PFO2Go CEUs every time you take a cohort though the course if you do it year after year.
Originally, in-person PFO (PreField Orientation) was the brainchild of Dr. Phil Renicks, ACSI’s first Global VP, now retired. Dr. Renicks noticed a disturbing pattern when he was head of school at Alliance Academy in Quito, Ecuador. Far too often some of his new staff especially from North America were not prepared for the changes and challenges that were ahead in their new international assignment. Yes, they were fully qualified for the job, yet they were missing significant pieces of information about how transition works, how expatriate TCKs think, and how to navigate the new culture they were entering. Without this knowledge too many staff cut their time abroad shorter than anticipated. Renicks developed PFO to address this need.
Begun in the summer of 1987, PFO has trained thousands of individuals, singles, married couples, retirees, and even children. Studies have shown that the PFO training helped those people transition better, be more effective in their work sooner, and many stayed longer than anticipated.
In 2020 COVID hit and PFO in-person was cancelled. PFO2Go was then created and launched in July 2020 to serve even more individuals and schools.
PFO2Go takes the essential core concepts from PFO in-person and repackages them to make them accessible anytime, anywhere, to more people than ever before.
The PFO2Go team is praying that this course will be a blessing for many.