End of Trimester Reflections

I’m sitting here on a looooooong layover in Germany, just finishing off my first trimester teaching, and heading home for the first time since I arrived here in August.  Many have been asking me to talk about teaching in the Middle East.  I have hesitated, because there are a lot of negative posts about teaching here.  I certainly can see those gripes and understand them, but in the same respect, I want to focus on the positives.  I have some perspective on the exasperating part of teaching.  Hell-what teacher doesn’t?  Didn’t most of us teaching here come from overworked-underpaid-underappreciated positions in the states?  Isn’t that part of what drove many of us out here?  I know that I was burned out at my job last year.  I had many behavior issues, was making crap money, and felt that I never got the pat on the back that I knew I deserved.


Now I’m teaching 8,000 miles away.

First off, I’m making better money.  Nuff’ said.

Second, I’m teaching roughly 165 days as opposed to the 200 I was working.  Hm, less work, more pay?  Ok….I’ll take that.

Now as far as the students.  Yes, the behavior is much more difficult to manage here.  Overall, this country is much more lenient with expectations on how kids behave.  Which creates problems in the classroom.  I would be lying if I said my first 2 months were easy.  Cuz they weren’t!

But here I am- finished with my first trimester and feeling some satisfaction with what I have achieved so far.

My two biggest behaviors in my room left me pulling out my hair everyday.  One would often run away after sitting in class for about 10 minutes.  She would run around the school and become a disruption for everyone.  The days she would stay in my room, she would create a very hostile environment and suck up all my energy.  I would take a deep breath and try my best to IGNORE the rotten behavior and pounce on her with praise the MOMENT she would do something headed in the right direction.  It was a slow process….but she started to like the praise.  Soon, she began to stay in class the full time.  When she was in a cooperative mood, she would work with other students.  When she was feeling temperamental, she would have the choice to work on her own.  Everyday, we would have fewer and fewer outbursts.  She finally got to a place where she would have a moment, take some time to calm down, then APOLOGIZE to me.  Every once and a while, she will run over to me while I’m in the middle of teaching a lesson and give me a hug.  I’m not sure what did it for her…but our relationship is in a hugely different place then it was at the beginning.

My second challenge was a little girl that was emergent in her English skills and take out her frustrations on me.  She would often yell out “Me no like English”….etc.  Sometimes I would correct her with “I don’t like English”  She failed to see the humor in that and would continue her outbursts and often sit at her table refusing to work.  Sigh….

About a month ago- something changed.  She was starting to want to speak correctly in English.  If I corrected her on something, she would repeat it back, then we would high five.  Sometimes, she would write something down and want to read it for the class.  This past week, we were conjugating verbs.  She was like a sponge with this.  So much so, that for the past few days, I would say something like “time for us to write”…in which she would yell out…
“I write”

“You write”

“She writes”….etc.

I suppose some may find this annoying….but seeing her so enthusiastic about learning English was way too much fun!

So, I’m not going to go into graphic details about teaching here.  There are gripes about teaching in any country.  If I’m going to take on this challenge for the next 2 years, I want to focus on these little victories.  I want to stay positive and make the most of my time here.  So that’s all you’re going to get from me.  J

But for now, I have way more important things to think about…….like catching my flight home!

Auf Wiedersehen!

7 thoughts on “End of Trimester Reflections

  1. SO proud of you Ali! And doesn’t it feel so much better and healthier to take the positive look at things and focus on those?! I’ve really been working on that lately hoping that it rubs off on some of my colleagues. I’m happier anyhow. :o) Hugs and Merry Merry Christmas!

  2. Bravo to you Ali! I think it’s wonderful what you have accomplished. I’ve always loved your positive attitude for all things. My nephew has had a bit of trouble over there with flights being cancelled and having to find alternative transportation. I pray you get home safely. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  3. Congrats on your vistories Ali! They may seem small to others but they are huge to you and those children you are positively impacting so keep up the amazingly great work. We miss you over here in the states but it sounds like you are making a world of difference where you are so we will sit patiently on the sidelines for your return to the scene here and cheer you on with all of the love and support we have for you. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Safe travels home and back. ❤

  4. Ali !
    This is really lovely….these are the victories that define you as a terrific teacher! These are the little lives that, through your intervention and direction and patience, are already changed forever…really hope you are able to track a few to see where they end up in their futures! You will be that “one special teacher” they never forget! You gave them what perhaps others did not: the time and confidence to bloom. Wow. ❤

  5. Hey, Ali!!! Hope you are home by now and in the arms of your loved ones… Know they have missed you as much as you have missed them!!! I was probably one of those who asked you about your challenges and successes while teaching abroad… Never ever thought about the “overly” negative posts… just what you might have seen in your classroom both positive and negative… Negative isn’t even the word I want to use.. a “challenge” is something I might not have been prepared for and how I came to work through… sometimes OK and sometimes not…

    While I tried to sleep through the night, you were much in my thoughts. What did I learn from your postings? The student who began to stay in class the full time… What I came to realize, she (think a she) became to feel safe in your classroom.. She could trust you to know her… what she needed for a particular time… So, you provide a safe place for your students… a student might be very different, but you work to make it an OK place for this student… Important to note how time plays a factor… Creating a safe place for a student doesn’t just happens… we have to be patient… and help our classroom to accept and understand those who are different…

    As I thought about the other student you wrote about… again knowing she/he is safe… again the need to know how she/he fits into your classroom… time plays a factor…”I can write… you can write… she can write.. he writes…” so on. Discovering a new language… takes courage… and you provide a classroom where it is OK to explore and be OK to make mistakes… Bravo, Ali!!!!

    Love you… and just totally enjoy your time with loved one while home!!!!

    • Susan….You have no idea how much your words mean to me. I so value and respect your opinion as I learned so much in your class. Thank you for taking the time to write this! And yes, I am safely home with friends and family. (unfortunately, am up writing this at 3am since the jet lag is still knocking me on my behind!) 🙂

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