Why Canadian Teachers Should Teach in Egypt


It’s no secret that finding a teaching job in Canada is a struggle, especially a permanent job. I hear teachers from all across the provinces complain about the same issue. So why not take a crack at teaching abroad? In fact, why not teach in Egypt? I know what you’re thinking, because you’re probably watching the news. In case you didn’t know, the news doesn’t show the whole story. Egypt is a great chance for Canadian teachers to develop their profession, to grow, and to have an incredible adventure. Here are just 10 reasons why Canadian teachers should come teach in Egypt:

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Whiteboard Words – End of Year Activity

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It’s mid-June and most schools are either done or wrapping up! Something I really like to do as the school year starts to wrap up, is have a ‘real’ moment with the kids. With grade 12’s I find and read articles about life after high-school and do anonymous Q and A’s on topics that would concern a high-school graduate. They love it.

With grade 6 this year, I did something similar to a fellow teacher, because I loved the concept. I call it Whiteboard Words. It is meant to build up your students and end on a positive note. You will probably need two periods to complete this, and all you need is a class full of students, a whiteboard and a marker (traditional chalk board would work just as good!)

Step One: Being Creative

To begin, every student gets a piece of paper. On that paper they have to come up with a neat name that alliterates, such as Cool Craig, or Fabulous Felicia. Then you collect all these names and put them in a container of some sorts. You will be picking the names out randomly, and who ever you pick must step outside for a couple of minutes while you write their neat name on the board and then get the rest of the class to contribute positive, describing words about that person.

Describe the activity to the students, emphasize that ONLY positive adjectives and descriptions are acceptable. You can warm them up by having students list some of their favourite and unique adjectives. Words and phrases like “awesome, polite, cool, trustworthy, fun, great dancer, friendly, outgoing, enthusiastic” etc.



              Step Two: Positive Vibes

Once you have about 6-8 words (you can do more!) then ask the student to come in and come up to the board. I have my students read the words out loud, because speaking them out loud has an even bigger impact than just reading the positive and encouraging words. After they finish reading, I usually ask them, “How does that make you feel?” And they always reply “Good!” and sometimes with a big or sheepish smile on their face.

Sometimes, you will have some students that is harder to come up with positive words for. This is why I prefer the teacher to control the marker and write the words out, because then I can insert a word once in a while, to make sure all students get at least 6 positive words written about them.


Step Three: Record the Moment

To finish off, I take a quick photo on my phone, and maybe because this is grade six, but not ONE student has refused to stand by the board and have their picture taken, and only ONE who wanted to hide their face. There are three reasons I believe other grades (particularly higher ones) shouldn’t have too much trouble with this either:

  1. Because all of the class is doing this, the more shy and insecure students don’t feel like they are being particularly singled out
  2. After they read the positive words about them, there is usually a boost in confidence and self-image, which allows me to take a quick picture which at another time, I probably wouldn’t be able to.
  3. I strategically choose the shier students a little later (not so random after all!) so they have a chance to see many other students do it before they do. If you pick a shy or insecure student right off the bat, it will be too much for them and it will set the precedent for the following students.











Overall, the students really enjoy this activity, and other classes were excited to do it once they heard another class had done it. No matter how the year went, and how your students did, it’s activities like these that students will remember the most, and if what they remember is their classmates think they are creative, smart, kind, and friendly, then that’s a good thing!


What kind of lessons or activities do you do at the end of the year? Do you have similar activities that maybe you do at another time of the year? I’d love to try some new things for next year! Let me know in the comments below!

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Teaching Abroad – Egypt Style

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Let me tell you about teaching in an Egyptian school and my experience thus far with my Egyptian students.

Education in Egypt

Here is some background knowledge. There is no such thing as public education in Egypt. Ok, maybe there is, but the quality is so poor in comparison to western public education. There are either International schools, or National schools, all of which are private and require quite a bit of money. My particular school costs 12,000 US dollars per child. This is why you will see children in the streets working all kinds of odd jobs if they don’t come from a wealthy family. It is sad, but that is the reality. Public education is something I wish all kids in North America would not take for granted…

The Children at Heritage International School

Now that you know how much it costs to go to school in Egypt, it shines a light on the kind of students we get to teach. They are rich children with countless opportunities. They go abroad every summer holiday, and parents will not hesitate to pull their child out of school in the middle of a semester, and go on holiday for 3 weeks to Disney World. Many of the parents are in business and have acquired their wealth generationally, and have grown mainly through connections. It is a ‘who you know’ world, which means work ethic is not stressed on the children as much.
Arabic people are very social and a bit loud when they speak. The children are no different. They are very friendly and for the most part wonderful young people, but terrible students. And I happen to have the chattiest group of kids.

By the way, the children are also SO CUTE! It’s hard to not smile at them and go easy when are such adorable and beautiful-looking children…The curly hair, the striking green eyes, the smiles…Egyptian kids are very handsome kids!

My Grade 6 Students

I teach ELA to all three grade 6 classes, and they are one of the largest grades in the school. This past week was the first week of school. There are five students named Omar, about three named Mohamed, several Youssefs, and others with very similar names like Hussein, Hassan, and Hazim. I love their names, except when I want to call on a specific student and I can’t remember the initial of any of their following names…Each student has an average of four names.
Positive learning environment and literacy!

Many of them are sweet, enthusiastic, and charming…but I am here to educate them and get them ready for grade 7 and life. This is where it gets difficult. 

From the time I came to Heritage, I was warned about ‘the grade sixes’, by everyone and anyone who had them since grade 2 (which is when they first developed this reputation). I can’t say, after the first week, that their behaviour is all that too shocking or new to me. I have definitely had difficult classes before, where chatter and behaviour were an issue. In contrast to the other grades, however, I can see how my grade six stand out.
I am not the slightest bit discouraged, although I am amused that this should be how my teaching career begins. It was a difficult first week, but I am determined to work with the students in creating consistency in their behaviour. They know how to behave well, they really do, just not consistently.

 I will try to do this, all while arranging ESL help for my weaker students, teaching them to spell and write correctly, learn who they are as a person, challenge those who are excelling, discipline those who think they can get away with being disrespectful, instilling a love for reading for those who won’t touch a book by choice, and all the other things a teacher must do if they want to be faithful to their students and give them the best.
By the first day of school, I completed it with one more hill and a couple more sheep!

One thing that I love is how willing the children are to share. They want to tell you about their day, about their summer, about the books their brother loves to read, and they are willing to love you sooner than you would expect. This week, I already got my first hug of the year from one particularly chatty, but sweet boy. I also had to give my first detention of the year to, yet, another talkative boy.

Investing in human beings is a wonderful thing, and that is why I do what I do. I come home mentally exhausted every day, and have to go to bed by 9:30 to re-charge over night until that 6:20 am alarm goes off, and I do it all over again. This is my life now, for the next X some years, but I’d say it’s a pretty good life.


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