For those readers who grew up in the American school system, what I am about to tell you is going to seem very strange. But indeed, for most of the world, what we do in the U.S. is very strange. It has been an interesting first two weeks of work!
First, a little about my school and schools in Abu Dhabi in general. The schools are broken up into cycles. For example, I teach in a Cycle 3 school which is grades 10-12. Cycle 2 is grades 6-9, etc. The students (girls in my case) stay in the same room all day and the teachers move from class to class. There are no passing periods. At my school the girls are expected to stay in the room all day, with the exception of the morning (30 minutes) and afternoon breaks (15 minutes).
For the first week of school we had a schedule. Each day I was in the same two classes, but at different times of the day depending on the day. There are nine periods and I was teaching four periods (two periods back to back, two classes) of 11th grade English each day. On Thursday of the first week we got a new schedule. With this new schedule instead of having my classes in a block, they were in individual periods throughout the day. And every day since then we’ve had to wait until 7th or 8th period to know what the schedule for the following day would be. That was just our teaching assignment schedule. The bell schedule also changed nearly everyday of the first week. It appears now that they’ve got the bell schedule figured out. School is 7:55am to 3:00pm, there is a morning assembly in the courtyard from 7:55-8:10am.
On Wednesday three of the English teachers were reassigned (two to a different school and one to an administrative position), which meant that we left school unsure of what was going to happen with their classes. Today, during 4th period I got a new class added to my schedule (grade 12). Then, before we left school we got the schedule for Sunday. I am now teaching all grade 12 classes. So, I had an interesting two weeks getting to know some of the 11th graders and now I’ll have a chance to get to know the 12th graders.
Never a dull moment, I tell you. But to be really honest–and many of you who know me are going to find this hard to believe–I find the daily “when do I teach tomorrow” feeling a little exciting. Sort of like each day is its own special adventure.
Oh and on Wednesday night, my friend Ali and I went to a local hotel’s “Get to know Al Ain” promotional event. There were a variety of local businesses there, and they were offering free finger foods and sweets. We walked around and ate, then on our way out saw that they were doing free henna. So we stopped and had our henna done and sat and talked with some other teachers who also got henna. It was a great night. Here are some pictures of the henna.