Guest Blogpost: Applying, Teaching and Living in the Middle East – The Good, Bad and Ugly

Hey guys!

I’m Rebecca and I’ve been a primary school teacher over in Doha, Qatar for the last 3 years. I completed my NQT in England, with the intention of fleeing to the sun, sea and tropical holidays for the next few years. I’d heard of many teachers in Dubai, UAE and dreamed of earning tax-free money (with other added benefits) the whole way through my NQT year. I think that’s what got me through it to be honest. Here I’m going to share my advice for anyone that’s interested in applying, in hope to answer any questions that you may have.

How to apply:

If you follow me on Instagram (Rebecca.the.irish.teacher), you may notice that I refer to TES Jobs a lot! In my opinion and experience, this is the best platform to apply for your post abroad.

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Hi everyone, As most of you know, my name is Rebecca and I’m a primary teacher from Ireland. I qualified from Edge Hill University and have been teaching in Doha, Qatar the last three years. I am posting this to see if anyone is interested in teaching in Qatar for the next academic year. My school is a lovely school that teach the English curriculum. We are looking for a number of primary and early years teachers for September 2019. The package includes: *tax free salary *free accommodation *reduced workload *annual return flights *medical cover If you know of anyone or are interested yourself. Please message me here for more information. Thanks Rebecca #teachabroad #primaryteacher #iteachtoo #teachingaway

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TES put you in DIRECT contact with the school in the Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain (wherever you’re applying) and you get a very clear picture about what you’re signing up to. Often, people tend to go with agencies and while I’m sure there are some good experiences, I’ve heard the complete opposite from any friends of mine that have gone through an agency.

When you apply through an agency, you speak only with them and sign your contract through the agency. If you apply through TES, you speak only with the Head Teacher or the Human Resource manager of the school you are applying to. From that information alone, I know which route I’d be going down! It’s also a super easy website to use! I was so desperate, like many of my friends, to teach in Dubai that I was applying through any platform I could find…BAD IDEA!!

Yes, it is frustrating when you don’t hear back from a school.

Yes, it does make you panic about getting a job when it’s May and you still haven’t heard back from a school.

But please, take it from someone who knows, don’t take any job just to “be in Dubai”, it’s not worth it! You could end up on the next flight out of there when you see your school, so please be careful and safe. Make contact with the Head Teacher or Deputy Head. Ask any question that you have (you can never be too safe) and if possible, try and make contact with a teacher who currently teaches in your perspective school as they will give you as clear a picture as you need.

What you need to apply:

  • A B.Ed, PGCE, PGDE, Hibernia or any degree that qualifies you to teach.
  • An updated CV (include a small picture of yourself in the top corner also).
  • A cover letter explaining why you are interested in the position.
  • A skype email address for interview.
  • Details of any work experience including dates.

Day-to-day teaching:

This section will be based on my current school, but keep in mind, school timings/holidays/timetables may vary slightly from school to school.

Teachers arrive at school: 6.30am

School starts at 7.00am

Children leave at: 12.30 pm (Early Years) and 1.30 pm (Year 1-6)

Teachers leave school at: 2.30pm.

On a weekly basis, you will teach:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Geography
  • History
  • Art
  • Qatar History (both children and myself learn this together)

Your children will also attend:

  • PE (twice a week)
  • ICT (once a week)
  • Islamic (twice a week)
  • Arabic (four times a week)
  • Library (once a week)
  • Qatar History in Arabic (once a week)

While children attend these classes, you’re free to catch up on work, have lunch, run interventions, correct work, put up displays, print resources, have meetings…you get my gist. During these periods, you are free to use the time as you wish. It really heightens the quality of a work/life balance! I rarely take work home, and if I do, it could be before an observation or if I just wanted a cup of coffee in my free periods instead of catching up on work. It’s the most laid back work environment I’ve ever worked in.

Planning:

The schools in Qatar are quite large, with up to 10 of the same year groups in some schools. Normally, teachers will share their planning so each teacher is usually in charge of one subject to plan.

I teach Year 4 and there are two other teachers in my year group. We share planning, like everyone else, and each term I plan English and topic only! I aim to have my planning done during my free periods so that I don’t need to do it over the weekend. Daily planning is required as per the schools in the UK. Our school follows the British Curriculum also so objectives are taken from that. It is easy to adjust to if you haven’t taught it before, so don’t worry!

 

Lifestyle:

The Good

The Middle East is very glamourous. They’ve money to burn and it shows in their stunning architecture, modern, futuristic infrastructure and top-class hotels. As the Middle East is known for its hot weather, for most of the year, you can enjoy weekends by the pool, beach or ‘brunching’ in these fabulous hotels. For anyone who has been to the Middle East before, you’ll know all about brunches! It’s an all you can eat and drink event with the most luxurious food and service you’ll ever receive. Teacher by day, celebrity by the weekend! Three years on and I am still blown away by the extravagant brunches.

If that’s not your scene, there’s numerous sporting clubs and teams to join too. There’s GAA, camogie, hurling, running, netball, tennis, badminton, rugby, hockey, triclub…you name it, it’s here. All fantastically run clubs that really bring a sense of community to the place! The expat community over here is huge! With thousands of Irish, English, Welsh, Scottish, South African and much, much more, you’ll be able to make loads of friends and socialise with many! For those of you who are going alone, don’t worry! Plenty of people come alone and absolutely love it!

The Middle East is also a fantastic spot to travel from. On the school holidays, teachers are always jetting off to many different countries. Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, The Maldives, Tanzania, Kenya…the list is endless. I thought I was coming to Qatar to tick some of these countries off my travel list, but instead, it seems to be growing larger and larger.

The money! Despite people saying those days are over, they’re not. There is still money to be made in the Middle East. You’re earning tax free money and not paying for accommodation or return flights, of course you can save! People argue that the cost of living is higher, but if you’re over here to save and life a more carefree life (minus bills), you’re heading to the right place. Many teachers, including myself, tutor after school privately. This is technically illegal in the Middle East, but nearly every teacher in my school does it. It’s again, tax free money and about 50-60 euro an hour. If you’re willing to put in the extra hours, you can earn a LOT of money!

 

The Bad

Naturally, there’s pros and cons to every country you live in. For me, the major negative of living in the Middle East is the lack of places to walk. You can’t just leave your apartment block and go for a walk like back home as there’s nowhere really to go (bar local shops). Taxis are needed daily to get around the country. While they’re very cheap, I do miss the option of walking to different places.

On the topic of taxis, the traffic in this part of the world is CHRONIC! A 20 minute car journey can take well over an hour in rush hour and the driving is absolutely mental! Only this year, we bought a jeep as we got fed up of getting taxis all the time, but we avoid the roads like the plague at rush hour, where possible! People don’t indicate or have general road decorum, they just pull out in front of you where they see fit. I’ve adopted the ‘close your eyes and hope for the best’ strategy while my boyfriend drives, as they are absolutely nuts on the roads.

Some aspects of the country are all about appearances, particularly in school. A lot of the time, there’s a big push to have the same information put on 3 different forms in different formats, when really the children’s progress and overall happiness should be the main priority. This is something that doesn’t bother everyone, but sometimes, I find the paperwork at the end of each term is unnecessary and monotonous. The pressure in school is way less than the school I worked in previously in the UK, but still, I disagree with a lot of the paper work we need to do in Qatar.

No child protection as such. This is something that really bothers me. Qatar and the Middle East in general, is still developing in lots of ways. Child protection is one of the developing strategies they’re trying to put in place. I’m teaching there 3 years now and only this year, we received training on child protection/safe guarding. Obviously you can raise any concerns you have with the management, however, the process and action that happens after it’s been reported is very little.

 

To sum up:

Living and teaching in Qatar has been the best thing I’ve ever done! I’ve travelled to many parts of Asia, lived a luxurious life, earned more money than I ever could back home and gained a wealth of teaching experience. To anyone even considering it, I’d advise you to do it! It’s a big move, but my god, it’s an experience of a lifetime! Do your research, ask questions and get applying! Please feel free to message me with any more questions or queries on my Instagram! Good luck x