I’ve taught in some rough schools and had some rough classes before, but nothing could have prepared me for teaching abroad. It is a totally different beast! Not only are there cultural differences that one must contend with, but also the language barrier. Imagine teaching a class where there are students that literally have no earthly idea what you are saying. Like no idea. Like not an idea. For many expat teachers, we are seen as lesser than the local teachers, and oftentimes do not receive the same respect as the local teachers. Also, the students see other classes as more important like physics, Arabic, Islamic Studies, and even math as more worthy of their attention than learning about nouns, pronouns, and subject-verb agreement. This makes for difficulties inside and outside of the classroom. In the States, I prided myself with being a proficient, well-versed teacher with strong classroom management, great rapport with students, and as an effective teacher. Here I found myself sitting in the offices of the Academic Vice Principal (AVP) and principal being told that my classroom management leaves much to be desired, and that major changes needed to be made in order for me to be successful at the school.
My school here abroad is an all-girls school with a great reputation and high performance. Many of the students come from affluent backgrounds with multiple nannies in the home, stylists, drivers, and many other service people to make their day-to-day lives easier. They sometimes lack the work ethic of students from low socio-economic backgrounds, and because of their lifestyles of affluence, don’t see the importance of working in class, especially English class. Not to mention one of the major tenets of the culture (socializing), which is on a scale that I have never experienced ever in life before coming here. I thought kids in the US talked a lot in class. They have nothing on a classroom of all girls who thrive on socializing with their friends. If I ask the girls to be quiet fifty times per class (not a hyperbole), that is a good day. Like I literally have to tell them to be quiet all class period. All. Class. Period. Like. All. Class. Period. Every. Single. Day. All. Day. Long.
So, needless to say, this will take some getting used to. Y’all pray for me.