Teaching in Saudi Arabia...part 2

Pin It Now!
Well, I've been teaching now for almost 3 months.  I've gotten back into the groove of teaching, but hands down, this is a totally different experience!
There's so much to talk about, though, and I'm not sure where to start.  
Let me share some of the unique bits about teaching at an international school in Saudi Arabia.  Even though we are teaching according to American standards, the grading is different.  E for exceeds expectation, M for meets expectations, A for approaching expectations, B for below expectations.  It's made my grading interesting.  
All students are required to take Arabic classes twice a week.  They have PE once a week and Technology (aka computers) once a week.  Since the lower elementary is so big, they've had to alternate Art and Music per grade.  So, kindergarten gets Art, first gets Music, second gets Art and so on.  Kinds stinks that my own daughter in kindergarten doesn't get to have a music class.
The students get a morning recess, lunch recess, and an afternoon recess.  Which, is very different from when I taught in Vegas.  The elementary kids just got lunch recess.
The most interesting part for me is teaching Social Studies.  The texts are American of course...and so, here I am, teaching American history to 17 students who have never set foot on American soil.  But, we have some really great discussions comparing where they are from and what life is like in America.  The kids get really excited to share about their own countries and they love hearing me tell about life in the States.
Of course, this difference of cultures has really made an impact on how and what I teach.  I spent a week teaching my class a new group of vocabulary words...they all knew them...knew what they meant and how to use them in a sentence.  But when it came time for the test, most did not do well.  I didn't understand...until I realized that the sentences used in the test referred to things that these kids had never heard of.  One sentence talked about cheerleaders at a game.  Another mentioned a barn.  I had 10 kids come up to me asking what a barn was!!  I was shocked!  But then thought...well, where in Saudi are they going to see a barn??  The kids really have a hard time comprehending a lot of the curriculum because it refers to things they just have never experienced or seen.
My entire class is Muslim.  And they love telling me things about their culture and religion.  Some of my kids are anti-pork (of course) and you should have seen their faces when I said how much I love eating piggies!!!  It was a riot.  I think they really get a kick out of how different we are.  

Anyway, that's just a few things I've encountered in the last few months.  
They may not celebrate Halloween here, but I gave my students a "Pumpkin Day."  Everything was about pumpkins and I even had them gut the pumpkin and paint them.  (yes, you can get pumpkins here, though they are the small ones)  This was a first for most of my students and they had an absolute blast.  Made me feel good to give them a chance to experience something new.
Here's a few shots of them getting their pumpkin on!

I also survived parent teacher conferences...most were pretty easy.  One rough one...but, well, I got through it.  One parent even gave me a Guide to Islam book.  I thought it was nice that he wanted to share with me.  ;)  
A week or so ago, I had a student tell me (during the middle of a lesson) that he needed to go and pray. Okay, now, I had no idea how to handle this.  I kinda just ignored him and continued on.  The next day, same thing.  I was really worried that I'd get in trouble refusing to let him pray, but I mean, this just isn't something I've ever had to deal with in class before!!!  After talking with the counselor, I was told that he could pray during recess if he wanted, or before school in the mosque on campus.  (until that moment I had no idea we had our own mosque!)  So, yeah, that was something new.

Now that the weather is FINALLY cooling off a bit...I've noticed a few other strange things.  Such as: giant snow coats, mittens, hats, sweaters...wait, where do we live???  But that isn't the icing on the cake...the best was this the other day at school:
Student: "My mom said that I can't go out to recess today."
Me: "Why?"
Student: "It's too cold outside." 
Me:  "I'm sorry, what??"
Student: "It's too cold."
Me: "Too cold??  Seriously??"
Student: "Yes, that's what my mom said."
Fact:  It was 70 degrees outside....
Must be a side affect of living in Saudi for too long...  ;)

So, now I'm getting ready to finalize report cards and wrap up the first semester.  Then it's a fab 2 week holiday break in Budapest!  
More teaching tid bits to come soon!


Post a Comment

I LOVE reading your comments!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...