It is the start of the new school year and, for some educators it is also the beginning of work in a new school. The challenges of being in the classroom may become more intense when you are in a new country with a different culture. Most educators are able to make new acquaintances with ease, while others might need a little nudge in the right direction, especially when it comes to winning over new colleagues. The following tips could make your transition into a UAE staffroom a bit easier.
Cultural Gifts: Most expatriate educators tend to have little trinkets and items that remind them of their home country. Share aspects of your culture by bringing gifts to your new school and colleagues. These can be CDs or DVDs with cultural practices such as appropriate music recordings or music videos of traditional dances, cooking videos, photographs of the landscape, souvenir items and more. Local educators have the advantage of being in their home country, which makes offering up cultural gifts even easier. This kind of gift will easily start the dialogue on culture so you will learn about your new home as well. Before you know it, you will be getting invitations to local events and perhaps planning a few of your own.
Resource Sharing: Educators are always looking out for new ideas and resources to improve their lessons. Be open about the resources that you have and share the materials and links so your colleagues can also benefit. When you are kind with your resources, your colleagues won’t think twice about sharing theirs with you. In fact, it could lead to you making lasting friendships instead of mere acquaintances at your new school.
Team Player: It’s your first week at your new school and already, one of your colleagues needs someone to cover his/her class…what do you do? If you have a free session, take the opportunity to cover it! Focus on the bridges that you are building by being a team player. As the school term progresses, there will be days when you will need assistance. A cheerful disposition and eagerness to aid colleagues when they are in need will result in gaining favour.
The Native Language: The native language of the UAE is Arabic. This means that a number of your Emirati and Arab colleagues as well as many of your students will speak very little or perhaps no English. Take the time to learn key vocabulary words so as to be able to communicate with them. Once they realise that you are interested in learning the language, they will be thrilled to help you with learning even more vocabulary. You will definitely impress them, if on your first day you are able to greet them in Arabic.
A Listening Ear: There are many little challenges that add up during the first trimester of the school year. You may find yourself in a position where a frustrated colleague simply needs to talk about what he/she is going through. If you have the wherewithal to do so, just listen. Be positive with the comments that you make and if possible, find a creative way to cheer that person up. If not, don’t be dismissive, but instead pass it on to someone who may be able to lend an ear.