Rebecca Kearse: My Arabian Adventure!
After completing my Bachelor of Education degree in New Zealand I taught for two years in Auckland which allowed me to gain my NZ registration. I was also keen to start working immediately to pay off my student loan. I have always had a love of travel and being a teacher is a fantastic opportunity…
After completing my Bachelor of Education degree in New Zealand I taught for two years in Auckland which allowed me to gain my NZ registration. I was also keen to start working immediately to pay off my student loan. I have always had a love of travel and being a teacher is a fantastic opportunity to do this. During my university years I traveled around America and Europe therefore I decided I wanted to go somewhere different. I applied for a couple of jobs in Dubai simply by contacting the schools directly and was promptly interviewed and offered a job. I choose to take a position as a year five teacher at an International school that follows the British curriculum. The comments below only relate to the school and city I am in; I am certain different tales might arise from other schools.
Initially, I couldn’t believe how much time teachers were given for planning, assessment, marking etc., compared to NZ. All teachers are entitled to 6 hours a week non-contact time. This means my class timetable runs like a secondary school timetable where the children in my class have a different teacher for Arabic, French, Music and PE. Therefore I only teach Literacy, Numeracy, Science Geography, History and Art. However, I soon realised teachers here need all this non contact time with the very high requirements and demands of a fee paying International School. I found it challenging to begin with, having to understand that the school is a business. We have to cater to demanding parents; they are considered the ‘clients’ and teachers have to please them! This is okay as long as you don’t take it too personally and ensure the children are still receiving a good education. The parents are also welcome to assist and some who have a lot of spare time will stay at the school all day. I quickly adapted to all this and have not really looked back. I love teaching and the children here are all very well behaved. My class and school is very multicultural; we have children from the UK, USA, Russia, India, the Middle East, Australia, South Africa, China and even a few kiwis! In terms of teaching it is important for me to make sure that children understand the associated vocabulary and have good word banks at the beginning to each new topic. But with such good parent support and involvement this is easily achieved and children tend to make a lot of progress quickly.
The school has amazing facilities unlike anything I have ever seen in a New Zealand School; a running track, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, an observatory, auditorium, radio station and film studio, all classes have interactive whiteboards, numerous ICT suites and laptop trolleys just to name a few. Compared to NZ, the school day is longer, the children start at 7:30am and finish at 3:00pm then they have after school clubs for an hour. However on the last day of the week it is only a half day. The school week is Sunday to Thursday, this is standard in United Arab Emirates, as the Muslim religious day is Friday. I still sometimes forget and say to the children “Have a nice weekend, see you on Monday.” Having said that the school day is longer it also means I get more holidays which means more time for travelling! We work 40 weeks a year so this means twelve weeks of holidays! Therefore it’s a work hard play hard attitude.
I signed a two year contract to begin with and my school have continued to extend my contract each year, it’s hard to believe I have just signed another contract to teach a fifth year here, I never imagined I would stay this long. The lifestyle I have in Dubai is great, my school provides me with a fully furnished apartment, medical insurance, residence visa and they pay for me to fly back to New Zealand once a year.
Our school staff come from all parts of the world, but most of my teaching colleagues are from the UK, being a British curriculum school.
My social life is fantastic, I live in the same apartment building as some of my colleagues, so it was really easy to make friends. It is not like a “compound”; just a common building like you might see anywhere in the world. Outside of school I love travelling; having recently visited Jordan, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Maldives, China, Hong Kong, Finland and Tanzania. When I am not teaching I love to play netball, swim, go to the beach or you can probably find me in a shopping mall (Dubai has the biggest shopping mall in the world and now also the tallest building too). There are a lot of fun activities and a good, safe social scene here if you make an effort.
I am having such a great time here in Dubai, I live a brilliant lifestyle, I love my job and feel very lucky with the opportunities it has provided me. I don’t have plans to return to New Zealand just yet. I am very happy and there seems no reason to change! If you are open minded, accepting of others and want to see the world then I would tell any teacher to give it a go, Dubai is great!
I can understand why people say we need good teachers to stay in New Zealand but I personally think they may choose to leave because of the opportunities that teaching offers around the world. It may just be the personality of kiwis and those that choose to be teachers; always keen to further their horizons. I don’t think anyone become a teacher because of the pay, although of course more money is nice, and if you do a good job and work hard, then why shouldn’t you be rewarded? As I have already mentioned Teaching is such a universal job which allows you to meet new people, to travel the world and gives you really good job satisfaction. Although the money and working conditions are generally much better in Dubai in my experience, New Zealand is the place that I will always call home!