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Teach Away Telegram – March 2015

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What’s teaching in South America like?

Ever wondered what it might be like to live and teach in South America? Meet Elisabeth, a 27-year-old teacher currently teaching in Havana, Cuba.

City Spotlight: Doha, Qatar

As one of the fastest growing urban centers in the Gulf Region, Doha, the capital of Qatar, is on everyone’s radar.

Make day-to-day teaching tasks a breeze with TeacherKit

Looking for an app to take the stress out of the day-to-day details of classroom management? Look no further than TeacherKit, an app rich with classroom management tools.

City spotlight: Doha, Qatar

Doha is the capital of Qatar and it’s currently on everyone’s radar as one of the fastest growing urban centers in the Gulf region. As the economic center of Qatar, lots of money continues to be funneled into its development. It’s also well on its way to gaining the heart and soul of a big, metropolitan city. And as such a newly developed city, Doha’s architectural landscape is breathtaking. With mammoth-like structures, it’s a skyline that’s hard to forget.

One highlight is Al-Corniche, a long promenade that curves around Doha Bay and the seaside, where those out walking can get a great view of the city’s skyscrapers. Close to the Corniche are many parks where families can go to enjoy a sunny afternoon stroll.

Although it’s a relatively new city, the cultural scene is quickly building, and you’ll find some of the best shopping and eating in the city in the various souqs (markets) in and around the city center. Two souqs worth visiting include the Souq Waqif, also known as the Old Souq, and the Omani Souq, that sells plenty of spices, woven baskets, and incense.

The restaurant scene is varied, given how diverse the population is, and international teachers will be able to find something to suit any appetite. There’s even a great deal of American restaurants in Doha.

Those more interested in what activities the city has on offer will be happy to know that as Doha builds a name for itself culturally, the number of museums and art galleries grows. The Museum of Islamic Art is a showstopper and it represents the full spectrum of Islamic art over the last 1,400 years, and features special exhibitions, events, activities, and lectures. There is also the Arab Museum of Modern Art, the Al Wakrah Museum which features marine life and natural history, and the Museum of Orientalists with one of the greatest assembled collections of oriental materials in the world – to name a few.

Other than museums, there’s lots to keep teachers and travelers alike busy on the weekends, including the Msheireb Enrichment Center, housed on a floating barge and sharing some of Doha’s past and its bright future to come, the Doha Heritage Village, which is based on a traditional village in Qatar. Here, you’ll find weaving, traditional boats, and pearl trading.

For teachers hoping to learn a little more about their new city and its language, there’s the Heritage library, with over 51,000 books on Qatar and the Middle East. It’s currently one of the biggest research centers in the Middle East.

Teachers interested in teaching in Doha should know that the city has a hot, desert climate with long summers that run from May to September. During the summer, temperatures can exceed 38 °C (100 °F). Rainfall is scarce during the summers. Winters are warm and very rarely drop below 7 °C (45 °F).

For teachers looking for a unique place to teach overseas, the “Big Tree” is a whole new experience. Interested teachers can browse our current teaching positions in Doha on our jobs board.

App review: TeacherKit

TeacherKit is designed to be a simple and sleek app, rich with features to take the stress out of classroom administration. TeacherKit allows teachers to organize their classes and manage students easily. Helpful for both K-12 and postsecondary teachers, TeacherKit is compatible with Windows 8 devices and all Apple devices and has seven languages of function: English, Arabic, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, and Russian.

Features include:

  • Classroom management tools (teachers can add as many classes as they need and can view an overview of each of their classrooms in Class Summary view, which shares the number of students, attendances, grades, and behavior.

  • Student management tools (teachers can add each of their students to TeacherKit using the Student Card feature and track their progress, take note of their grades and behavior)

  • Seating charts (decide how to arrange your classroom to suit student personalities and learning styles)

  • Manage attendance (set absence limits for students, set flags for when students have reached limits)

TeacherKit allows teachers to simplify classroom management to focus attention on more important classroom details like lesson planning and classroom engagement. To learn more about the app or to download it, visit the TeacherKit website.

Teach Away case study: teaching in Cuba

Elisabeth, 27, is from Ontario, Canada. She’s currently teaching elementary students at an international school in Havana, Cuba. Elisabeth had two years of teaching experience at schools in Canada and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, as well as a Master’s in Second Language Education.

She took a few minutes to speak with us about her teach away experience and to answer our questions below.

What sparked your interest in teaching abroad?

I wanted to broaden my teaching experiences as a young educator and thought teaching somewhere warm with palm trees would be a great choice for an experience away from cold Canada. I always thought if I am going to teach somewhere away from my loving family and friends it should be at a place with a completely different culture, so I can truly experience not only teaching, but life from a completely different viewpoint.

Were you originally looking for positions in Cuba?

I was originally looking for a position in the Middle East, particularly Abu Dhabi or Dubai. However, Teach Away suggested Havana because of the competitive teaching climate in the Middle East (most schools require teachers to have at least three years of full time experience). So I thought, why not just try Havana? Throughout the interview process with the International School of Havana I began to feel like the position was a perfect match for me!

How did you hear about Teach Away?

I found Teach Away when researching international teaching agencies on the Internet. The website was very organized and after talking about the agency with teaching colleagues I heard more good things, so I went ahead and applied.

Has your placement lived up to your initial expectations?

My placement here has definitely lived up to my initial expectations. Cuba is a unique and exciting place to teach. Flights to and from Cuba were covered, my apartment is fantastic, and my students really are a dream class! Also, the level of additional learning and EAL support is excellent.

How easy have you found it to adapt to the school and the Cuban way of life?

It was very easy to adapt to the school as all staff are very friendly and always willing to help new teachers. Adapting to the different curriculum and to the way the school assesses was the biggest learning curve for me.

The Cuban way of life was a big change, but most definitely adaptable. Living in a Spanish speaking country and learning how to do regular errands and getting around Cuba without Spanish was the greatest challenge. The school provides new teachers with language courses which has really helped with the transition. I can now speak basic Spanish which means I can get around and communicate better with locals.

What have you found the most rewarding about your experience so far?

Learning and using a new language is one of the most rewarding things about my experience here in Cuba. The experiences of traveling within Cuba and visiting beautiful nearby places such as Pinar del Rio, Varadero, Cayo Coco, Trinidad, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara and much more are what has made made teaching abroad so rewarding. Being able to enjoy life and gain teaching experience at the same time is a dream and still hard to believe. I am very happy and grateful for this opportunity of a lifetime.

If you were to return to the Canadian classroom in the future, what would be the most valuable skills you’d take back?

Time management skills, optimism, imagination, leadership, persistence.

One piece of advice you’d give to teachers considering teaching abroad?

If you have a chance to teach abroad, to learn more about yourself as a person and as an educator, just go for it! Prepare yourself for a lot of work that will bring you a striking culture, friendships of a lifetime, enriched teaching experiences and super salsa dancing skills!

If you’re interested in seeing what other teaching positions we have abroad, visit the Teach Away job board.

Have questions about teaching with ADEC?

If you’ve been eyeing up all our recent ADEC jobs on the Teach Away job board, and are wondering what it’s like to teach with the Abu Dhabi Education Council, you can join our weekly Q&A on either Facebook or Twitter to get your questions answered. Every Thursday, one of our Teach Away Placement Coordinators answers your teach abroad questions live in Facebook and Twitter at 3:30 pm PT (6:30 pm ET).

Don’t be shy! Send us a tweet or a Facebook comment and ask Teach Away.

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