Tuesday 27 December 2016

Why I quit teaching in Dubai

I'm a good teacher. In fact, according to my last Governors Observation, I'm actually a very good teacher.

I'm also organised and work well under pressure, my data is always up to date, my planning is always ready on the weekend, my gap analysis is under close scrutiny and I differentiate my planning for the children.

Having an occupation for me, forms part of my identity, something I lost when we became expats in 2011.

I was always 'Hi, I'm Suzanne, a wife, mother to 5 and a teacher'

It has always been important to me to be able to say that.

Suddenly over night I became 'Suzanne, a wife and a mother to 2'

Then I became 'Suzanne, Peter's wife' as we moved to Dubai and the kids left home.

I needed to reinvent myself, I needed to feel that I was something more than just 'Peter's wife' So I took a job teaching British Curriculum in an Arabic School in FS1.

But it wasn't for me. Having not worked for 5 years, I needed something that defined me. I blog, but I don't describe myself as a blogger or writer and I certainly didn't earn a living from it.

I spent 4 years in South Africa as a volunteer working with children's charities.

But everything in my life started with 'When I lived in South Africa I was a .........' Prior to that it was 'When I lived in the UK I was a ...........'

I needed something for the 'now' and I got it wrong.

As much as I loved teaching the children, I wasn't trained to work with this age group, I had no phonic's training or training on how to teach a child to hold a pencil, let alone work on letter formation and blending words.

But I learnt, I hadn't written a formal lesson plan for 5 years.

But I'd also never worked under such close scrutiny, never had to deal with unannounced short deadlines for inputting data and all of a sudden being told the data needed to be entered in a completely different way than the last time. I'd never in my entire life been observed so much, not even when I did my Teacher Training. I'd never had to work 12 hour days, work most weekends and still be told that being very good just wasn't good enough, that I could be better, I could achieve more and then being given a deadline in which to improve myself.

My background is teaching special needs, yet I felt I was being taught how to suck eggs. I'd worked in Child Welfare, multi agency, yet I wasn't allowed to work off my own initiative.

I felt I was being moulded into a one size fits all mould. My planning had to be done in a certain way, my activities had to be the same as the other teachers, my resources were often used, yet little was shared back. Then I was told I had to treat the children as individuals, teach them according to their needs, it would appear no one actually read my planning that was differentiated, colour coded according to ability, language and special needs.

I could have done so much more if I'd been allowed my individuality, if I hadn't been lumped in with everyone else, if I wasn't dragged into meetings for group discussions on the importance of submitting planning on time, setting up classrooms, use of resources, when I clearly did mine, above and beyond what was asked for.

But it seems that the more I did, the more I was asked to do, until in the end I felt like I just wasn't good enough, like I was failing.

I don't know if it was the management, the demands of the British Curriculum, the environment in which I was working, me or a combination of the above, but I decided enough was enough and I quit.

So now I'm back to being 'Suzanne, Peter's wife'

The sad part is that on reflection, I could have played the game till the end of the school year, I wasn't struggling with the teaching or the paperwork, I was struggling because I just didn't feel good enough.

I feel good enough to be Peter's wife though. I'll just have to find another way to reinvent myself for the rest of the world.

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