Curriculum, schedules, and confusion
23.08.2011 101 °F
Well, I am still loving my apartment and anxiously awaiting the arrival of my shipment (all of my personal items). I just spoke with the shipping agent and my items are currently going through customs and should be here in the next few days! I am loving having my Dad here. It is so nice to have someone home when I get home from school. I will definitely miss him.
As far as the work week I have had so far (remember, our week is Sunday-Thursday), I will do my best to explain the procedures we are following. I have been tested for my blood type, gotten a local mobile, gotten a bank account, am in the process of obtaining my drivers license (whole story in itself), have my work laptop, and just got a brief overview of my schedule, curriculum, and students.
The drivers license process is super intense for Americans here due to reciprocity...we are harsh about assigning licenses to Qatari's (because driving here is a bit nuts) and in turn, they are harsh about assigning us licenses here. We sat at DPS for 4 hours yesterday only to be told that the Police Chief would not return before the closing time to sign our papers. We found out today at school that we will go tonight to pay for the license and sign for it. Then tomorrow we will return to DPS and take a driving test (through the roundabouts and crazy roads) and a signs test (totally different on some signs...check it out...http://www.moi.gov.qa/site/english/departments/TrafficPolice/sections/sec742/742.html...my favorite is "Animal Danger" or camel crossing). Inshallah it will be done by the end of the week and I can rent a car. It is not a public transportation society and you pretty much need a car to get around here...as nuts as the driving may be.
So my school schedule is completely different than it would be in the States. There is no standardizes testing. There are no special education labels. We do not work on a discrepancy model but instead work to highlight and utilize the strengths of the students. There are NO TEKS standards. AH! No TEKS? Whatever shall we do?! Yes, I asked that question today. We have approximately six different programs/curriculum standards that we will use. I am not sure whether this is a good thing or a confusing thing. Regardless, it is the plan. Here is my daily schedule:
7:15-7:25 Entry Activity
7:25-8:55 Reading Block
8:55-9:05 Snack in Room
9:05-11:26 PLANNING!!!!! (Kids are at: Arabic, PE/Art/Library/IT/Islam, and Interventions)
11:26-12:11 Lunch (Lunch duty once a week)
12:11-12:41 Math Computation
12:41-1:30 Math Core
1:30-2:25 Language Development through Social Studies and Science (Integrated Units)
So...Reading is the emphasis of the school since almost all of the kids are Qatari and have limited language proficiency in Arabic and/or English. For Reading, we are using the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts, Reading, and Writing. For Math, we have no set curriculum or standards...this is to be determined. For Science, we are using SEC Science Standards. For Social Studies, we are using Atlas. For ELLs, we are using GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Devise). For Writing, we are using Four Square.
This is definitely a big change from teaching in the States. The school runs on entirely direct instruction. All instruction is to be modeled, done with the students, and then independently by the students. Repetition is highly valued. Our goal is to see major improvements in reading with our students this year. I am completely on board, but realize that I have a TON to learn about this method (coming from a primarily inquiry-based education system) and about teaching with this much liberty in curriculum development (as far as math, especially).
I got my student list today! I have seven 1st grade students. They are all Qatari children and I am so excited. Our beautiful, huge, state-of-the-art school building will not be done until around October, so for now I will be sharing a room and/or co-teaching with my grade-level partner and her 8-9 students. She has been at the school already and is much more knowledgeable than myself. I cannot wait for her to get here on September 4. We will figure out how to arrange our room and prepare for our kiddos then.
Overall, everything is wonderful. I love the other teachers. I love my apartment. I am ecstatic to have yummy fresh hummus and awesome food at school. I do have a lot to learn and a lot to process though. Bring it on 1st grade!
I will do my best to keep you in the loop!
Hugs from Qatar,