teaching abroad
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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.



The author Elizabeth

Christ Follower. Wife. Traveller . Chocolate chip cookie lover. Day dreamer.


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