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 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!