How I Deal with Life.....

How I Deal with Life.....

Sunday, February 19, 2012

UAE or Bust!!

Next school year I won't be returning to the school where I have been teaching since July 2008. I’ll miss "my" kids, but I can't go back. I can't go back to a school district that has had four superintendents and five principals in four years. Constant inconsistency is the name of the game, and I am worn out. I gave it my best shot. Daily meetings during my planning and after school are just one of the many issues factoring into my decision. How can I work in my classroom if I am always in a meeting? How can I be there for my students if I am in meeting after meeting? In September I spent an entire hour after school one day in a meeting where the faculty was made to play word wall games in an effort to increase teacher use of word walls. Meanwhile, I had two week’s worth of papers that needed grading stacked up on my desk, and a student who desperately needed help with writing so he could pass the graduation exams. I knew I would be unable to catch up on my work the following day: I had another meeting during my planning and yet another meeting after school for one of the SEVEN committees I had been assigned. So what did I do? I stayed in that meeting room and played a word wall game for over an hour and fumed over what I wasn’t accomplishing. Staying after school everyday until 6:00 p.m wasn't helping much either, except for maybe contributing to my stress levels.

            I am worn out, disillusioned, frustrated. I can’t teach in a school where the air conditioning and heating systems are patched over and over again instead of being repaired correctly. Believe me, Georgia in August and September is no place to teach with a hit and miss air conditioning unit. I can’t teach where there are no funds for basics like toilet paper in the student restrooms, yet admins carry around district paid for Ipads. I can’t teach in a system that values meetings, meetings, meetings over actual teacher/student interaction. I can’t teach in a system where the supposedly doctorial educated administration do not know how to write a paragraph without including at least two subject/verb disagreements, two run on sentences, and five unclear pronouns references. Makes me wonder who wrote their dissertations. I can't teach in a system that purchases educational software to the tune of THOUSANDS of dollars and that software does not work efficiently due to an outdated system server and hardware that is twelve years out of date. Didn’t anyone have the foresight to actually research the compatibility of the hardware and software before shelling out so much money? Money that could have been used to repair the heating and air conditioning unit? I guess not.

I can’t teach in a district where I am not valued as a professional; a place where an administrator points to my class literature texts and informs me that I do not teach my content (English), but rather I am supposed to teach the Georgia Standards. I can get a little testy when it comes to my content and my professionalism. I do not teach standards. I teach content. The standards are what I use to scaffold and support my content. Administrators, please stop a minute and understand what you are saying your teachers before you talk. And do not inform me that I can’t be a “good” teacher; I have to be “effective” one”. I am an effective teacher. Don’t use doublespeak to try and confuse the issue that you really have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to my area of expertise. I don’t try to tell you about your area.

            I can’t teach in a system where I receive an emailed warning for not being on duty in an area where I have not even been assigned. I can’t teach in a system that tells me to use my car and my gas to run to the alternative school everyday, teach, and then make it back in time for my 5th period class.  I can’t teach in a school where I am told that I must stay late to work sporting events for which I am not compensated. I can’t teach in a system where I am told not to enter a grade less than 60 on a report card for a student, even if the student has done no work at all. I can’t teach in a system that two years ago purchased smart boards for all the classrooms, but didn’t have the intelligence to purchase the ones that would have come with a repair service written into the contract. Now the bulbs are going out in the smart boards, the software is glitching up (for lack of a better word), and a lot of the smart boards are now hanging useless, where they aren’t so "smart" anymore. I can’t teach in a system where I am pulled into the administrator's office three weeks into the school year, handed a list of teacher evaluation items that I need to improve on, and (this is the kicker!) I haven’t even been evaluated yet. I can’t teach in a school system that holds faculty meetings to correct the “verbage” teachers are using on lesson plans. Give me a break. The “verbage”?

            I could go one and on. Issues that are state wide issues: lack of parental involvement; how NCLB is indeed leaving children behind; how responsibility for education is not divided between student, parents, and teacher, but rather loaded solidly on the backs of the teachers alone; the way teachers are ordered to “teach the test”; the exorbitant amount of money the state shells out for current standards material and training, just to change the standards five to six years later; how disruptive, ill behaved students are kept in our schools, regardless of how their behaviors impact the students who really want to learn; how systems hire totally online educated administrators who (surprise!) turn out to be ineffective. I could talk about all that, but I won’t.

            What I will do is follow my heart and go forward with an job interview that could see me headed to The United Arab Emirates in August to teach. Will it be perfect? No. The UAE is in the middle of a major educational overhaul, and as such there will be some difficulties. Will I run into some of the same problems as here? Yes, but I can be more forgiving of a country that is only forty years old and is valiantly attempting to create a top notch educational system. The United States has had over two hundred years to get our educational system right, and in the past fifteen years we have been de-evolving, rather than evolving in the time and resources we give to American education.

            In my own country I am vilified and portrayed as a greedy, lazy state employee who only teaches in order to gain lucrative retirement benefits, three entire months off in summer, and work days that end at 3:30 p.m. (I am still trying to locate ANY American teacher who fits this profile). In the UAE, as in many other countries, teachers are still respected and valued. My final interview for the United Arab Emirates teaching position is soon. I have been studying the culture, the language, the people, and the geography. I am excited to be given a chance to join and be a part of history in the making. I am looking forward to being respected and regarded as the professional that I am. I am looking forward to being creative and energetic in a classroom with “my” students again! It won’t be paradise, but I’ve been through hell.  All I want to do is teach. If the interview falls through and for some reason I don’t get the job, I will start to diligently rehearse the phrase, “Would you like fries with that, sir?” because until the American educational system starts operating under a modicum of common sense and professionalism, I’m outta here.  

Until then, UAE or Bust for this American teacher!!!


  1. Excellent! I'm an educator in UAE. Many of us left USA because of these very reasons. Having said that, you will have meetings most days, your planning period will be taken up with "other" things, you will have to learn the "Learning Outcomes", which are your curriculum. Paperwork out weights educational hours, on most weeks. Don't be disillusioned, but the same issues will appear here. And, you are correct, they are a country of 40 years and have a lot of growth potential. So, bring it on, girl. This country needs feisty, energetic educators who will take the bull by the horns and teach content while immersing students into the English Language. We are on a life journey. This will be but one step in the journey. Take lots of photos of your journey because a lot of people will live vicariously through you. See you on the other side of the pond!

  2. Anon- your words are deeply appreciated. I need all the encouragement I can get. I am so ready for the next adventure!