Saturday, March 10, 2012

Where Are You Going?

All the walls are covered in murals.
     The answer to that and many other questions, will hopefully be answered tomorrow. But for now, let me tell you about my week of observing at an amazing KG school! My small group of 11 had been here for about 8 days or so, when we received an email telling us we would get the chance to observe model schools for the next week. This was really exciting news because it meant we were not just going to get thrown in to a school, we would instead get the chance to see schools in action first. Other groups before us have not had such a great opportunity. The only downside of this is that we would have to wait another full week to find out which city we had been placed in. Our employer, ADEC, wanted to wait for more people to fly in so we could have a larger orientation group. Luckily the week flew, and now orientation is tomorrow!
     So, about the KG school...Jennifer and I were placed in a school located just outside Abu Dhabi Island, in Khalifa City A. It is an absolutely beautiful school that houses 6 KG1 and 6 KG2 classes. Think Pre-K and K. So anyway, the school is gorgeous with murals covering the whole entire hallway. I would be very lucky to teach in this building permanently. There are a lot of cool 'western' teachers there and I also found the Arabic teachers to be quite welcoming and friendly. On Wednesday and Thursday I wore my abayas to school and got many compliments from the the Arab staff, which was nice, since they're the one who wear them daily and see so many different ones.
     Throughout the week, I observed 8 different teachers and got to go on one field trip. It was interesting to see all the different teaching styles, and observe the obstacles that the English teachers had to contend with. I found it particularly interesting to watch an Arabic lesson. The teacher did a great job and it looked a lot like my lessons at home. It's funny because I know that it will be extremely difficult to get my classes to look like that here, since there is such a huge language barrier. It was nice though, to see that the kids can be completely engaged and attentive when they understand what is going on. It gave me a different perspective and I think it will help me be more patient as I start off with my own class. After all if I, as an adult, can get distracted during an Arabic lesson, imagine how 5 year olds feel listening to us babble on in English. It's gotta be pretty tough!
Little hard to see, but this is the playground.
Kids enjoying the fish tank at the park.
     Although I am pretty sure I'm the only one who enjoyed the field trip, I have to say it was my favorite part of the week! We went to Khaleefa Park and the kids really liked it. The class I was in, split the kids among adults, so I had 6 kids to look after. The were super cute, and for the most part listened and stuck together. It was just nice to be spending the day outside and enjoying the nice weather. It will soon be much hotter, so I have to enjoy while I can. I say I am the only one who enjoyed it because all of the teachers seemed stressed about losing track of the kids. There were some points that they got jumbled in with other kids, but it was nothing like trying to keep track of my kids at the Coney Island Aquarium, so I was quite relaxed!
Burj Al Arab
     On Sunday, I spent the day in Alona's room. This was great, because I knew Alona before getting her school by chance. She has been very helpful to our January group and was on our Facebook page answering questions before we got over here. She is a great example of someone who is over here and just loving life and has her own YouTube channel dedicated to videos of her life here in Abu Dhabi. (I showed some of you the video of her apartment.) We had met and gone shopping the first week I was here, so it was great luck to be placed in her school. She was kind enough to take us home and pick us up every day all week so we wouldn't have to take taxis! 
     Not only were the teachers and school enjoyable, so were the after school activities! After school on Sunday, Alona was driving us home and spur of the moment decided to take Jennifer and I to Dubai. We went to her apartment, which has an insanely gorgeous view so she could change, and were off to Dubai. It's about the same as a trip to Syracuse from Binghamton. 

Canal at the Jumeirah Souk
Burj Khalifa


     While we were in Dubai we saw the Jumeirah souk, which is not exactly a souk you bargain at, but it had beautiful stuff. I plan to go back to get some artwork for my apartment. We saw the Burj Al Arab, which is one of the most recognizable buildings in Dubai. (It's the building Tiger Woods hit balls off of.) We also went to the Dubai mall, which is the most beautiful mall I have every seen, complete with fountain light shows every half hour. (Like Bellagio, but way bigger.) Right next to the mall is the Burj Khalifa, which is tallest building in the world. You know, the one Tom Cruise scaled in MI4.
So that was a fun, but exhausting, little adventure. I will definitely be going back once I know where I am living and have money to buy decorative stuff for my apartment.
Inside Dubai Mall
     On Tuesday, we went with all of the English teachers for happy hour at a pub called Cooper's. It has this awesome big couch booth that made me feel like Alice in Wonderland because if you sit all the way back your feet dangle off. It's high off the ground and the back goes up to the ceiling. I had some really good fish and chips and yummy pale ale. It was great to hang out with all the other teachers and to gain a different, perhaps more realistic, view of the school.
      All in all it was a wonderful week, and I can only hope that the school I wind up in is as nice. Supposedly the principal went to ADEC to request for us to stay, but I'm not counting those chickens! I'm sure there are other schools which are more short staffed than this one. I need to sign off so I can get to crossing my fingers and toes that I get a good school here in Abu Dhabi City tomorrow! I'll keep everyone posted on where I end up!


  1. I am really enjoying your blog! Can you tell me are the principals from UAE or do they hire administrators from abroad? I am an elementary school principal from Canada and I think I would like to go work in the UAE.

  2. There are both! My school will be getting an Irish principal to replace our Emirati principal once spring break ends and I met a principal from New York just the other night. There are still many schools with local principals, but western principals are still coming in. Definitely apply. I know that I've been very spoiled and haven't actually had to do much work yet, but I'd be enjoying myself even if I hadn't been so spoiled. It is lovely here and I have met some great people so far. Good luck with your decision and I'm sorry it has taken me so long to reply!