FAQ

To wrap up this blog series on teaching in the UAE, I opened up my Instagram story to see what questions people still had. Below are the answers that I don’t think have been covered in the previous four posts, as well as the most common ones that I get asked. Let me know if I’ve missed anything!

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Is it safe for women to travel there? Are they allowed to drive?

There’s really no crime at all over here (nobody dares to break the law!). You do hear the occasional horror story, but unfortunately you hear about those in Ireland too. There is potentially a culture difference in men creepily staring at you, or walking up to you in a mall to ask for your number, but nothing you need to be worried about. You can 100% drive in the UAE – click here to learn how to get your licence sorted when you get here!Image result for women driving clipart

Which schools would you recommend? Do any of them have a particularly good reputation?

Hard to say – you really don’t know until you get into the school itself. The only one that stands out is Raha International School – I’ve heard of a number of teachers there who love it, and it’s 90% expat students. You can see the ratings for all ADEK (Department of Education and Knowledge) here, but it goes without saying that just because an inspector thinks a school is ‘Outstanding’, doesn’t mean a teacher is going to love it.

 

Do you have to dress formally for school?

Men do – it was such a pain in the beginning, but I’m used to it now. ADEK (the inspectorate) set specific rules for their schools, so it’s a shirt and tie for me everyday. Women actually get away much easier – you’ll have to cover your shoulders and can’t wear jeans, but you can much more comfortable clothes than me! 

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Where can you learn about what the British/American curriculum entails?

Online is your best bet – but I wouldn’t worry to much about it. You’ll have training for up to a week before the kids start, so I wouldn’t worry about until you get here. Your school will know that you haven’t taught the curriculum before, so it’s up to them to support you! It’s no harm to research it a little bit before an interview though.

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Are there a lot of inspections?

In my very limited experience, yes. You’ll have to pass your probation in the school, no matter how long you’ve been teaching. This will probably mean two inspections, and a lot of schools will have walk-throughs for all teachers on top of that.

Was anything way more expensive than you imagined?

Yes, gym memberships – they’re so stupidly expensive that it’s unthinkable. Currently one of the big branches has a three month special rate for teachers that comes in at just under €500…for three months. There is one gym here, Haddins, which offers a decent discount to Na Fianna GAA members, which works out at about €100 a month, but if you live a bit away from there it might not be worth it. We’re so lucky that we have a gym in the villa provided by the school!

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Is there much culture or history there? All I see are shopping malls and huge resorts.

There’s definitely nothing close to what you’re going to come across in Europe – we’re talking about places that have only very recently been built! Yes, the culture leans very much towards pool days in fancy hotels, and massive shopping malls, but I suppose that’s part of it. There is a Lourve museum in the city, and the Grand Mosque is incredible. Check out this website for more ideas on what’s on offer!

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I have a medical condition – what’s the health system like?

Pretty good to be fair. They are ruthlessly efficient on a good day, and better than Ireland on a bad one. A bus load of us went for a medical examination (needed before you can get your licence and insurance), and we were all in and out in about 45 minutes. On the other hand, I split my chin open on a jet ski in Dubai and had to wait over two hours to see a doctor, so I guess it depends. Your insurance is great though – a visit to the doctor will only set you back about €5!

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Do you get a bonus at the end of your contract?

You should – roughly one month for every twelve months completed. Be aware that your gratuity will be based on your ‘basic pay’ though, which may not be the same as your salary. Read more about that here.

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I think that’s everything! I hope I’ve given you a good idea of what living and teaching in the UAE is like over the last week. Take a look at my previous posts about the teaching, money, lifestyle, and process to learn more about life as a teacher in the UAE. If there’s anything else, you want to know, send me a DM on Instagram or email me at irishguyteaching@gmail.com. Thanks so much for reading!

 

 

The Process

Okay, so you’ve made it this far.

You’ve gotten a fair idea of the teaching, and the lifestyle and culture you can expect out here, and you’re still keen on giving it a go. Unreal!

I’m going to break this post into sections too, so feel free to just jump to the relevant part, or read from start to finish. Let’s get into it.

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Sections

  • Finding A Job
  • Contracts: What to Look (Out) For
  • Getting a Visa
  • When You Get Here

Finding A Job

There are two ways you can go about getting a job – on your own, or through a company. I remember being advised by a lecturer in college to search on my own through TES when I was looking at the UK, as the companies take a percentage of your wages for setting you up. Over here, however, the schools generally pay a commission to the company instead, which doesn’t affect the money that you earn, so there’s really no reason not to seek out the help.

I’m sure there’s other companies out there, but the one I’ve come across is Teach and Explore, which is run by two Irish teachers who will look out for you every step of the way. I got to know Garrett when I brought Teach & Explore in to talk to Pats’ students when I was on the Student Union in college, and he was the obvious choice when I was coming out here. All I had to do was send on my CV, and they did the rest for me. They held interviews in Dublin with some principals from UAE schools, and a few hours later I had a job offer sitting in my inbox.

Now, I didn’t actually end up going through Teach & Explore, as I had a friend working in a different school who got me a job by just handing my CV into the principal, but if you don’t have that kind of connection, I couldn’t recommend Teach & Explore more. They don’t take any of your wages, and they know the schools out here like the back of their hand, so can recommend one for you based on your specific wants or needs.

Contracts: What to Look (Out) For

Okay, so I’m no expert when it comes to jobs in the UAE – I’ve only been here a few months! There are a few things that I remember being advised about, however, so I’ll lay them out here. You might not be able to do anything about them, but you should know what you’re signing up for.

  • Probationary Period: Make sure there’s a probation period in your contract, and ask the school to specifically outline the dates. You can leave without penalty up until this point, without being fined or having to pay the school back for any expenses incurred getting you there.
  • Duration: Most job offers will be for two years. Look out for the penalties for leaving early, and don’t be afraid to ask the school to outline (in writing!) what happens if you want to leave after the probationary period is over. I’m lucky enough to be on a rolling contract, but I know plenty of teachers who are stuck in a school they don’t like, yet have to stick it until the end of their contracts to avoid heavy fines.
  • Gratuity: You should be entitled to a gratuity at the end of your service – 1 months pay for every 12 months worked. However, some schools (like ours), will divide your monthly salary into ‘basic pay’, and ‘allowances’ for flights, housing, utilities etc. Your gratuity will be based on your basic pay, so keep an eye out for that!
  • Salary: I posted earlier in the week about the kind of money you can expect out here. There’s such a huge variance between individuals, due to experience, qualifications and location, to name just a few, that there’s really no benchmark I can give here. Do remember that your contracts can be negotiated though – I managed to get an extra 500AED/mth (€125) because I had a better offer from another school.

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Getting a Visa

The good news is that once you’ve managed to get a job, sorting a visa and teaching licence here is a very simple process. I’ve been on two J1’s, and the paperwork for both of those nine-week trips was far more tedious than coming out here to live and work. The school’s HR department (or the company you go with) will do all the hard work, so you just need to provide them with the right documents. The main ones you will need are:

  • Attested Degree: This basically means you need a UAE official to sign off on your teaching degree to say it’s authentic. Here’s the link you need to get started. You can expect to pay about €200 for this, but you need it to get a teaching licence so there’s not much you can do about it. Make sure you tick the option to have it ‘notarised’. I would advise requesting a second copy of your degree from your university, or else just sending in the original (you’ll get it back), as otherwise they (or you) will have to send it to a solicitor for verification first, which will cost even more.
  • Transcript of Records: Transcript of all your results from college. Should have been provided by your college when you finished.
  • Teaching Licence Registration from Ireland: Can be printed from your Teaching Council login.
  • Employment Letter: A letter from your school, signed by the principal, stating your time spent there. If you have more than one school I would imagine they want letters from them all, as they use it to verify your experience when calculating your salary.
  • Police Clearance: This is not the same thing as Garda Vetting! Just go to your local garda station and tell them you want to apply for police clearance. It basically says you have a clear criminal record. As far as I remember this was free.

That’s it! Once you’ve gathered all of those documents together, just send them all on to your school or company, and wait for them to book your flights. You’re ready to go!

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Once you arrive in the UAE, there are a few other bits you’ll have to sort out. Most of them are easy enough, though.

  • Driving Licence: An absolute pain in the face if you don’t know what you’re doing. You’ll need to go the Emirates Driving School and take an eye test, then get your Irish licence translated. Then you have to download the Abu Dhabi Police App, wait to get a text to say your documents are ready, and go back to print and collect your licence. Expect the entire process to cost about €250. Bring cash and wear long pants – I was turned away for wearing shorts because it’s a government building. It’s a pain to get, but once you get your work visa it’s illegal to drive without it.
  • Emirates ID: Kind of like your passport over here. Sorted by the school. Note that companies (including schools) are not allowed to take this off you, so don’t give it to them!
  • Bank Account: Easy to open and possibly sorted by the school. If you have the option, open it yourself and keep the school out of it – trust me!
  • Rent A Car: Plenty of options to choose from – National and Autorent both do good deals for teachers.
  • Teaching Licence: UAE Licence – sorted by the school.
  • Visa: You’ll arrive on a temporary visa, so the school will organise for you to get your permanent work visa when you arrive. Be aware that you’ll have to hand over your passport for a few days.

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All done! I hope I’ve given you as much help as possible over the last few days. This is the blog that I wish I had before I came out here last year (even though I did have Rebecca, who I know reads this, so thanks Rebecca!). Hopefully it’s been some help to you – if it has, please give me a follow @irishguyteaching on Instagram to see what I’m up to on a day to day basis, and if there’s anything I can help you with send me a message on there or at irishguyteaching@gmail.com.

Thanks so much for reading, and good luck!

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Lifestyle and Culture

There’s quite a lot to get through here, so I’ve organised it by section. You can read it from start to finish or just scroll to the heading that interests you.

Sections

  • Accommodation
  • Cost of Living
  • Food
  • Night-Life
  • Sport & Leisure
  • Safety
  • Travel and School Holidays
  • Weather

Accommodation

You can take it for granted that your contract here will include accommodation. This will take the form of either a villa/apartment, or an allowance that is added to your salary for you to use towards your own accommodation. The allowances tend to be pretty decent, and a lot of people actually save a little this way by pocketing the money and flat-sharing/living with a partner. (A lot of couples will take an apartment for one person, and the other will pocket the allowance while living with them, but bear in mind that this is illegal here).

I’m sick of saying this, so I’m sure you’re tired of reading it, but it really does depend on your individual school. You might be lucky and get your own apartment, you might be sharing with one person, or like me, you might be sharing with 5/6 co-teachers. Some of the accommodation is fantastic, and some of it is okay. I haven’t heard or seen of anyone with terrible accommodation, but the best advice I could give would be to try and find somebody in the school and ask them what it’s like when you get an offer. 

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Cost of Living

Stuff ain’t cheap out here, and nobody’s going to tell you that it is. You’ll find yourself laughing (and crying a little inside) when you’re paying €80 for a brunch, or €120 to get into the infamous Zero Gravity in Dubai.

What you’ll work out pretty quickly, however, is that there’s a whole lot of discounts and offers up for grabs out here, so if you’re savvy, you can bring the cost of life out here down a lot. There are ladies’ nights and teachers’ night, which could have up to 70% off drinks, or five free drinks with a main course. Groupon is very useful here, as is the Entertainer App, which has 2-for-1 offers on everything from attraction parks and hotel rooms to coffee in Starbucks. It costs about €100 a year, but you’ll save that tenfold in a year.

Also, bear in mind how much you’re not paying for here. Yes, a tub of strawberries might set you back €6, but you’re not paying rent; petrol is a quarter of the price you’ll pay in Ireland; your school is likely providing your medical insurance; and you don’t have to get on a plane to enjoy a weekend in the sun. 

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Food

There’s everything you need out here, and you’ll quickly find a few favourite spots. I’m lucky enough to live near Yas Mall, which has a whole pile of great restaurants from all over the world, including a Cheesecake Factory and Vapianos. The only thing I’m missing out here is Boojum, but I suppose a man can’t have it all!

I would say the quality of the meat isn’t as great out here. You wouldn’t pick up mince or fish in a supermarket – I tried it once and it made my stomach turn just smelling it. The chicken is fine. Don’t panic though – there’s a great app called Kibsons which a lot of people use to order good quality meat, which is delivered to your door. You can even Irish eggs and salmon on there too, but you’ll pay a premium for them. Pork isn’t eaten in Muslim culture, but you can find it (legally) if you look for it. It just won’t be in most supermarkets. 

We get meat from Kibsons a few days a week, and eat vegetarian the others, which is a change I was planning to make anyway.

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Night Life

Right, well I am probably the single worst person in Abu Dhabi to ask about the nightlife, because I really don’t know anything about it. I’ll take Netflix and chill over a night out 365 days a year, and I don’t plan on changing any time soon!

I will say, though, that I’m surprised by how much is actually going on out here. I had the impression that the UAE would be a relatively ‘dry country’, and there wouldn’t be much partying to be found, but that is seriously not the case. There are a million and one drink deals and nights out to be had, seven days a week, and by all accounts Dubai is utter madness. Honestly, it’s closer to Ibiza than Saudi Arabia.

Watch out for Sharjah though – of the seven Emirates in the UAE, it’s the one ‘dry’ one, which means sale or possession of alcohol is illegal.

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Sport and Leisure

So, what is there to do in your free-time? Assuming most teachers reading this are Irish, I’m sure GAA is top of the list. The good news is that there’s a huge setup of men and women’s GAA all across the Middle East, so you can absolutely keep playing while you’re out here.

Anywhere you go should have a GAA club – the biggest is Na Fianna here in Abu Dhabi. We have three hurling and four football teams, and that’s just the mens! So far, we’ve been hurling tournaments in Al Ain and Sharjah, and the footballers also had a weekend in Bahrain. Outside of the GAA, there’s still plenty of sport going on. You can join rugby and soccer teams, play golf on some of the best courses in the world, or join a CrossFit gym. The Marina Circuit on Yas Island also opens up its Formula One track twice a week for runners and cyclists, which is a great (and free) way to get some exercise in.

If sport isn’t your thing, there’s a great musical society that puts on a couple of shows a year, as well as a thousand other clubs on MeetUp, ranging from photography to language groups, and everything in between. There really is no end of things to do here!

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Safety

This is a question that a lot of people have when they’re thinking about moving to the UAE, or Middle East in general.

The good news is that, for the most part, it is the safest place you can possibly imagine. You’ll see people leave the car running when they pop into the shop, or leave their phones and wallet lying around on the beach. There’s zero tolerance for any crime, and therefore there really is very little crime. I’ve never seen the key to my villa, which means the front door has literally been open every day since I got here, but we’ve never had any problems.

The flip-side of that, however, is that you’re very, very afraid to break any rules. There’s no such thing as a friendly warning here, and you don’t really know what your rights are, or if they’ll be upheld if there’s an issue.

Send me a DM on Instagram if you have any concerns I haven’t been able to cover here.

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Travel and School Holidays

A huge part of the appeal of the UAE is its proximity to other countries, and I think almost every teacher here is interested in getting out to see more of the world while they’re here.

So, how much time do you have to travel? Private schools set their own calendar, but as an example, my school has two 4-day midterms, three weeks off at Christmas, two for Spring Break, and eight for summer. In other words, it’s roughly the same as back home (you’d really miss having the whole week off for midterm though!)

The countries within easy reach of here include Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Jordan, Sri Lanka, India, Egypt and the Maldives. Of course, that’s on top of living in Abu Dhabi and having Dubai an hour from your doorstep, so the opportunities are pretty amazing! We just booked our flights to India over the midterm last week, and they cost just over €200 return per person, which you’re certainly not going to get from Ireland. If you’re staying out for a couple of years and want to travel during the summer, you could also add China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to that list. 

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Weather

What’s life like in the desert? Well, unsurprisingly, it’s pretty damn hot. September and October were pretty intense, with temperatures well into the 30’s nearly every single day. We only saw rain once from leaving Dublin Airport to going home for Christmas (although school did get called off early that day, as the roads got flooded!)

It was a struggle at times, but you’re inside and teaching in a lovely, air-conditioning building for the hottest part of the day. Hurling training was pretty crazy at the start of the year, but apart from that, I really can’t say it’s been much of an issue, and I’m not someone who particularly likes the heat. It’s really cooled down now, though, and won’t get hot again until the start of April (apparently). Then it will get crazy again as the summer months approach, and I don’t think many Irish teachers brave July and August over here!

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So there you go, as comprehensive an account of the lifestyle and culture I could think of. I would have loved to have a blog post like this last year when I was trying to make up my mind about whether or not to start applying for jobs here. I ended up coming out for a week at Easter to see what it was like for myself, so hopefully this post can save someone that expense. Check out the other posts in this series to learn more about the teaching, money and process of getting out here!

The Money

‘Herself and the boyfriend are out there now making an absolute fortune. They’ll be home in three years to buy a house. Sure they’ll probably buy it upfront in cash, the lucky feckers’

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We’ve all heard something along these lines when the topic of teaching in the Middle East comes up, and it’s undoubtedly a big pull for a lot of people paying massive rent and struggling to get by while living in Dublin straight out of college.

Now, when I was looking into coming out here last year, I remember wishing that someone would cut through all the vague comments and hints about saving, and just tell me how much damn money they were making. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do!

Last year in Dublin, I was in my second year out of college, on my second fixed-term contract, so my salary was €35,876. This translated into 26 x €1,110 paychecks, which is €28,860 take-home pay for the year.

This year, I’m paid by the month. My salary is 11300AED, which today is €2,755 a month. 2,755 x 12 = €33,060. That’s €4,200 more than last year over twelve months, but bear in mind that I’m not paying rent of €525/month in Dublin this year either. I’m on a rolling contract too, which means I probably won’t get paid for the summer the year I leave (on the other hand, I can leave whenever I want to).

So yes, I am able to save this year, but it’s nothing extraordinary, especially when you factor in the cost of living over here, which can be staggering.

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Again, there are a lot of factors that come into play here, the two main ones being location and teaching experience. I was offered 12,375AED (€3,017) a month for a school in Al Ain, but that’s the best part of a two hour drive from both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, so I made the choice to be closer to the action. Your experience (or lack thereof) also counts for a lot here – if you have seven years experience and a Masters, you’re going to make a lot more than an NQT like me.

As I said yesterday, schools are run like a business here, so it’s not a case of getting a job and then being paid by the Department. The best schools with the best salaries are naturally the hardest to get jobs in, so just because you’ve heard of one person making a fortune out here, doesn’t mean you’re going to walk into it yourself!

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There are other opportunities to make money out here. Plenty of teachers take on tutoring, although it’s technically not allowed, as it counts as paid work outside of your contract. A blind eye is turned to it though, and a lot of people do it for 150-200AED an hour (€40-50). That’s a pretty nice tax-free bonus to your wage, particularly if you get 3-4 grinds going on a weekly basis. If you read yesterday’s post, however, you’ll know that the school day can run from 7.30am-4.30pm. Add in travelling to grinds and teaching for a couple of hours and you can pretty much cross that day off the calendar – you’ll be lucky to have your dinner and half an hour of Netflix!

Again, it depends on what your priorities are, and how serious you are about saving.

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So, will you make a fortune out here? If saving is your priority, you have plenty of experience, you’re willing to be in a remote location (if necessary), and you’re happy to settle down for 3-5 years (you’ll get a bonus of roughly 1 months pay for every 12 months completed), and even take on some private tutoring – well then yes, you should be able to come home with a significant amount of cash. If you’re fresh out of college and want to come over for a year to live in Dubai and live the high-life while travelling the world, then don’t expect to make an easy fortune. Choose your sacrifice!

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Thanks for reading! Check out yesterday’s post to get an idea for what the teaching itself is like out here, and  come back tomorrow for the next post in this series, ‘Lifestyle and Culture’. 

The Teaching – What’s It Really Like?

The first thing you need to know is that teaching over here is different than in Ireland. That’s not to say it’s better or worse, but you should be aware that it’s not the same profession as it is in Ireland.

What do I mean by that? First of all, schools feel more like a business than a…well, a school. Most schools will be extremely large, and there will be a lot of staff. We’re talking 150+. Any queries you have will be directed through the HR Department, Accounts, the Principal’s Assistant…you get the idea! On top of that, a high percentage of the teachers  will stay in the school for three years or less, so the turnover is very massive. For those reasons, it’s hard to get the kind of community feeling of schools back home. You don’t build up much of a relationship with parents or senior staff.  I’m not saying that this is good or bad, but you should be aware of how different it is before you come here.

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All schools start early and finish late over here. I’m in school for 7.30am, which means leaving around 6.50am. Assembly is at 7.40am, and first class starts at 8am. The kids go home at 3pm, and staff can leave at 3.30pm two days of the week, 4.30pm another two (after PD/meetings), and 2pm on a Thursday (school runs from Sunday to Thursday in the UAE). That being said, the day is completely different here, and it’s much more like a secondary school in terms of scheduling. My kids have a different teacher for Arabic, Islamic, ICT, Moral Ed, Music, German, French and P.E, so I have a lot of time off during the day where I can plan my lessons and get on top of corrections and paperwork.

In fact, I only have 17 hours in the classroom per week, which is crazy when you consider that I’m in the school for about 38. That’s one of the big advantages here, as it’s teaching me the extremely necessary skill of leaving work at work, and having a healthy work-life balance. I never bring work home, and don’t think about school outside of school, unless it’s something to do with Irish Guy Teaching, which I just enjoy doing anyway.

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What you’re actual teaching will depend on the type of school that you’re in. Most private schools will be either British or American curriculum, so you’ll be teaching Grade X as if you were in a school in Brighton or Virginia. It will depend on your individual school whether the kids are expats or locals – it varies from 90% expats to 90% Emirati. Our school is the latter, and it is tough with the kids. English is their second language, but they’re expected to perform at the same level as American children – they have the same books, the same testing, the same material…it really makes no sense whatsoever. The teaching (in my school at least) is also very, very, textbook heavy, which naturally leads to behaviour issues in the classroom as well. There are no serious issues – it’s a private school, so if there are, they get kicked out! – so unless you’re in a public (government) school I wouldn’t worry about that.

Parents are manageable – we use ClassDojo daily to post pictures of the work they’re doing, send home test results and homework, send private messages etc. The parents have to sign up, and any communication has to go through there. It can be overwhelming, particularly with a younger class, but it also stops parents arranging meetings for trivial issues, so that’s a bonus. They do expect a lot from their kids, though, and you’ll take the blame if they’re failing tests or even misbehaving. I’m still learning how to deal with that!

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The resources in the school are amazing, if a little tedious to get at. We have a store room for everything you could ever need, which can be signed out and taken back to your classroom. We can take anything from weighing scales to mini-whiteboards, puzzle games or extra readers. It’s great to not have to buy resources out of your wages, and even the printing and laminating is free! I’m not sure if it’s the same in every school, but we send anything we need printed or laminated to the ‘reprographing room’, and it turns up within 24 hours in a tray! The only issue with that is you have to be very organised – no running copies off the printer first thing in the morning! It is very handy though, and definitely saves both time and money.

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The paperwork is intense, and I’m talking teaching practice intense. Every single lesson is dragged through Microsoft Word before reaching the classroom. That being said, I only teach five subjects here – English, Math (Grades 5 & 6), Science and Humanities. There are also four of us teaching Grade 5, so I only have to plan one subject a term. This makes it feel like you actually don’t have much to do, but in all honesty, I prefer planning my own lessons. I hate being handed a worksheet and a lesson plan and told to ‘go teach’. It’s just not me. I love how open-ended the Irish curriculum is, and how much free reign you get in the classroom. In a subject like Science, you can literally do anything you like the look of on Pinterest, as long as you can link it back to some vague objective in the curriculum. That’s a perspective I only got from being here, but I’m so grateful for it now!

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The testing is another huge issue. At the start of the year, I skipped over technical wording or specific paragraphs in the textbook reckoning that an actual understanding of place value was more important than knowing whether the format was standardised or expanded, or that I could explain the Scientific Process without referring to the long winded example in the book. Then the end of unit tests rolled around, and of course the example in the book was about the experiment from the book, and the maths questions were along the lines of ‘write 54,342 in expanded word form’. Now to me, those tests don’t show whether the kids actually understand the concept, but when the results are being entered in a database and poured over by admin, comparing them to the other classes in your grade, as well as being sent home to parents…well, pretty soon you let go of any grand ideas you might have and just learn to play the system. I’m not going to lie – that part of it sucks. Teaching to the test, and sacrificing actual understanding to tick the boxes on a spreadsheet just feels so wrong, especially when the kids are ten years old!

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Finally, you should be aware that you will be observed and possibly mentored while you’re here. To date, I’ve had two formal observations for my probation, one scheduled mentor visit, and six or seven unsupervised walk-throughs, which are the worst as you have no idea they’re coming and they check everything from the learning objective on the board to your copy corrections! That’s quite a high number though, and I can’t imagine that most schools are that vigorous.

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Hopefully you’ve got an accurate picture of teaching here from reading this post. I’m certainly not trying to turn anyway away from the experience, but I wish somebody had sat me down and opened my eyes before I came out. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still be here, but I think you deserve a fair idea of what you’re getting yourself in for.

So yes, the hours are long, the paperwork is rough, the kids can be difficult, and middle management will drive you half-demented, but there are pros too. Teaching a different curriculum is interesting, and you get to work with and learn from teachers from other countries, which doesn’t happen back home, at least at primary level. I have a lot of time off during the day to get through the extra workload, so I’m learning to balance life and work. I get my resources printed in colour, laminated and put in a tray for me. I am managing to save some money. And I feel like I’ll be a better teacher for the experience when I come home.

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Told you there was a lot to get through! I hope I haven’t left anything unanswered – if I have get in touch with me on Instagram or through irishguyteaching@gmail.com.

Badminton – Ideas and Games

If you can get your hands on a set of badminton racquets, some shuttlecocks, and a length of rope, then you have all you need to teach a couple of weeks of lessons.

Here are ten drills, games and ideas that you can use to teach badminton to your class.

Keepie-Uppies
Start simple – have the children bounce the shuttlecock off the racquet as many times as possible. You could set a timer and see who can keep it bouncing for a full minute etc. For older classes, you could challenge them to touch the racquet off the ground in between bounces.

Partner Pass
Grab a partner, and pass the shuttlecock without dropping it. Move further apart each time you complete five passes. Try getting the players to run from one end of the court to the other to vary this drill.

Badminton Golf
You will need a number of targets for this one – these could be hula hoops or even cones for older classes. Students hit the shuttlecock, and see how many shots it takes to reach the cone. See the video below to see what it looks like – the quality is awful though!

Clockwork
Put students into groups of six or seven. One student stands in the centre. He/she will pass to each student in turn, and the team will try to complete a full circle without letting the shuttlecock drop. The pattern is: middle student, player one, middle student, player two, etc etc.

Now you can progress on to using a net. If you happen to have badminton nets, lucky you! If not, tie a rope, or sports tape, from wall to wall, or basketball pole to basketball pole. Now you’ve made a net!

Bombs Away!
Put two teams either side of a net, and place an even number of shuttlecocks on each side. Kids must throw the shuttlecocks onto the other side of the net – whichever team has the least on their side when time is up, loses.

Up and Down

For this game, players face a partner across the net. They must hit the ball to their partner, sit/lie down on the ground, and stand up again in time to hit the next shot!

Long and Short Serves
Players work in groups of four to practice serving – see the video below.

Champion
Players go in groups of five/six. One player begins as the champion. They play a point against the challenger, starting with a serve. If the champion wins, they earn a point. If the challenger wins, they become the new champion.

One Racquet
This is a challenging game, for older classes. Players go in teams of five or six, but only have one racquet per team. Each team goes in a straight line. The first player hits the shuttlecock, and quickly turns to give the racquet to the next player, before running to the back of the line. The aim is to keep the rally going, or you can make it into a competitive game between the two teams.

Two on Two
Time to get serious. Put players with a partner, and have them play a match against another pair. Play first to ten points, win by two, starting with a serve. If the ball touches the ground, or you hit it out of bounds, you lose the point. Don’t forget to outline the court!

I hope you got some ideas from this post, and are considering giving badminton a try with your class. Let me know if you do over at @irishguyteaching on Instagram!

Olympic/Team Handball – Ideas and Games

Olympic handball is a great sport to teach any class. I particularly like it with older age groups, as the structure of the game enforces team work, and prevents the competitive, sporty students from dominating all of the time.

The rules are very simple.

  • You have a pitch with two goals, the same as a soccer pitch.
  • Each team has a goalkeeper, and there is a box around him that other players cannot enter, about three strides in each direction.
  • The aim of the game is to throw the ball into the goal for a score. The ball is smaller than a soccer ball – see the picture below.
  • When a player has the ball, he/she is allowed to take three steps, before passing/shooting. (In the real game, you can bounce the ball while running, similar to basketball, but I find this lets the stronger kids run the game too much!
  • If the ball drops to the floor, pick it up and play on. You cannot kick or roll the ball.
  • Olympic handball is a non-contact sport – players can slap the ball away, but can’t tackle the player.

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Here is a clip of a game of Olympic handball – just remember that the rules are a little different than what I suggested, so be ready to defend yourself!

A few simple drills you can use before playing competitive matches are:

  1. Drop-Ball: Players throw the ball to each other in a line of three. If anyone drops the ball, the whole team is out. Make players switch hands, place one hand on their head, or lie down to make this more difficult.
  2. Pass, Catch, Shoot: Set out three cones with an equal number of players – back, middle and front. The player at the back passes to the player in the middle, who catches and passes to the front, who shoots. The shooter then collects the ball and each player moves to the next station.
  3. Possession Game: Two teams of 4/5 players play within a grid to complete 5 passes without the ball being intercepted by the other team.
  4. Long and Short: Two players face another pair across the pitch. The ball is passed (short) between partners, and then thrown (long) to the other pair, who repeat the process. Focus on passing the ball without stopping!
  5. Can’t Touch Me: Players go in pairs – each player needs a ball. The players hop on one foot and try to score points by touching the other player with the ball.
  6. Double Time: In pairs, players pass and receive a ball simultaneously. Great for hand-eye coordination and timing!

I took a lot of these drills from the video below, so take a look if you want some more ideas.

I hope this post encourages you to give Olympic handball a try with your class. It’s a nice one to add a bit of energy to the end of the year, when your class are sick of playing basketball or rounders.

If you do decide to give it a go, I’d love to hear how you get on @irishguyteaching on Instagram!

 

3D Drawing – Easy Art Lesson!

Here’s a really simple art lesson that you can pull out of the bag when you’re having a busy week.

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Materials

  • Paper and pencil
  • Colouring pencils
  • Fine black markers.
  • 30cm ruler.

Directions

  1. Trace your hand onto a piece of paper.
  2. Starting at the bottom of the page, draw straight lines 1cm apart, horizontally across the page, skipping over the hand itself so that you have two sets of lines. Use the bottom of the ruler rather than the top to draw the line, so that you can see the lines you have previously drawn. Don’t draw through the hand!
  3. Join each set of lines together by drawing a curvy line, freehand, to connect them.
  4. Trace over the lines you have drawn using a fine black marker. Do not trace the outline of the hand.
  5. Choose two contrasting colours and shade in between the lines.

Here’s a video of the process, and a look at what your 3D hands will (hopefully!) look like:

Hope this helps, and good luck!

Printmaking (with Foam)

Printmaking is a creative, tactile lesson that offers your kids the chance to explore a new medium.

There are lots of different types of printmaking:

  • Monoprinting: This is where you paint an image onto e.g. the back of a baking tray, and get one ‘print’ by pressing your blank paper on top of it. You can only get one print, as the detail is removed by the transfer paper – hence the name ‘monoprinting’.
  • Screen-printing: This is where you press ink through a stencil onto the page underneath. Screen-printing was most famously used by Andy Warhol in such pieces as ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans’ and ‘Marilyn Diptych’.

The type of printing that will be discussed here, however, is relief printing. This is where an imaged is carved into a surface, and transfer paper is pressed on top of the inked surface. This is commonly done using lino and lino cutters, but this post will look at using foam instead, as it is cheaper and more readily available.

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Materials

Directions

  1. Place your foam sheet on a blank sheet of paper, and trace the outline.
  2. Sketch your image inside the space you have outlined on the paper.
  3. Place the foam sheet underneath the image, and trace over each line, checking to make sure the image is transferring across. (You can skip steps 1 and 2 and just draw on the foam, but it is more difficult).
  4. Recycle the paper drawing. Retrace the drawing on the foam, etching each line deeply to create relief. (i.e. to ensure that the image you have sketched is ‘deeper’ in the foam than the rest of the sheet).
  5. Place a small amount of printing ink on the glass plate, and roll the ink roller through it until you have an even coating.
  6. Apply the ink to your foam drawing, ensuring you cover the space evenly.
  7. Take a fresh piece of A4 paper, and place it carefully on top of your inked foam drawing. Taking care that the paper does not move, press it into the foam to allow the ink to transfer. You need to apply plenty of pressure at this stage. Use the palm of your hand, a wooden spoon, or a clean ink roller.
  8. Peel off the paper, and check out your print!
  9. Repeat steps 5-8 if you like he great thing about these prints is that you can create multiple copies, as the printing process itself doesn’t remove any detail.  You can even wash the foam with a damp sponge cloth if you want to use a different colour!

Here’s a video that I found online that I think gives a good overview of the process – there’s no sound however!

 

I hope this post helps, and you give printmaking a try with your class. Let me know if you do @irishguyteaching on Instagram!

 

Filling Up The Last Few Hours…

If one of the perks of teaching is the holidays, then one of the worst parts is definitely the drawn-out week before the holidays! Kids are out sick, there’s 101 extra-curricular things going on, end-of-term tests are over and nobody feels like doing much work, including the teachers!

There’s only so many movies you can play before the kids get bored of those too, so here are some other ideas to keep the kids occupied and engaged before the break.

Board Games

End of term is the perfect time to break out the games of Monopoly, Connect4, Don’t Buzz the Wire…all the old classics! Some might see these as just time wasting, but I think it’s important to expose the kids to entertainment beyond the iPad or TV screen. There’s no point in giving out about them ‘always staring at a screen’ if you never make an effort to interest them in anything else!

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Table Quiz

Who doesn’t love a good table quiz? Mix together some random trivia, sports questions, pop culture and of course, material you’ve covered in class, and you’ve got an entertaining 45 minutes lined up. You can download a simple 5-question template answer sheet here, and also a list of 50 questions that you might include at a fifth/sixth class level.

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Card Games

Teaching the kids to play old card games is a surprisingly rewarding experience. I feel like a very old 24 year old writing this, but I got a real sense of nostalgia teaching my kids how to play games like ‘Go Fish’ and ‘Cheat’ (otherwise known as ‘Bullsh*t!). I played a lot of tennis in my teens, and there was a large group of us that used to play these card games on the train journey to Carlow or Waterford during the summers. Here are two simple games that you can teach:

Cheat

Groups of 5+ work best. Deal out all  of the cards. The first person puts a card faces down in the middle, and names it. (e.g. I’m putting down a 7). You can put down two, three, or four 7’s if you have them. The next person must put down a card one above or one below the last person (in this case either a 6 or an 8).

If they don’t have a 6 or an 8 to put down, they cheat/lie and put down another card (face down, remember) pretending it’s a 6 or an 8, and hope that nobody calls their bluff. If someone calls ‘cheat’, the last card is turned over. If the person did cheat, they take up all of the cards that have gathered in the centre. If they were telling the truth, then the person who called ‘cheat’ takes all the cards. The winner is the first person to get rid of all their cards. Trust me, your kids will love this game! If it sounds complicated, watch the video below from 10:00 (but be warned, it contains strong language!)

 

Spoons

Another super-fun card game that will keep your kids entertained for hours! You will need one spoon (or similar object) for each player. Players sit in a circle and the spoons go in middle. Deal four cards to each player and leave the rest of the cards to the right-hand side of the dealer. The dealer picks up one card from the deck, and examines it. He/she chooses one of their cards (either the one they just picked, or a different card) to pass to the next person. This process repeats until the last person gets a card, at which point they add it to a ‘Trash’ pile, rather than pass it back to the dealer.

When somebody gets four of the same card, (e.g. four Queens, four 8’s, etc.), they grab a spoon from the centre of the table. As soon as the other players see this, they grab a spoon too. The person who doesn’t get a spoon loses, and the game starts over again. See a hilarious example below!

Movie Suggestions

If you do go for a movie (and believe me, I still will be!), here are some of my recommendations for fifth/sixth class.

  • Ballerina **
  • Benji (for dog lovers) **
  • Breadwinner
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid (based on Jeff Kinney’s series)
  • Gangsta Granny (based on David Walliams book) **
  • Inside Out
  • Matilda (based on Roald Dahl’s book) **
  • School of Rock
  • Wonder (based on RJ Palacio’s book) **

(** = available on Netflix Kids)