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As educators, we encourage our students to explore their boundaries and expand their horizons, all while developing the skills needed to be productive global citizens. We work tirelessly to seek out, create or even develop opportunities for students to showcase their knowledge and skills to the world. We often use these competitions as a platform for our students to showcase their talents.

There are many national and international level competitions. It is commonplace for students to participate in school wide competitions like, Science Fairs, Spelling Bees, or Talent Shows. All of these build students’ confidence, increase their skills and in many cases provide them with prizes and scholarship money. The tangible prizes are not the only benefits of participation. The skills developed in the process of the competition can provide a myriad of opportunities and lead to successes later in life.

Interestingly, there are a number of competitions that allow educators to do just what we push our students to do daily. It is ample time that we also took advantage of the competitions that are available to educators that will also allow us to continue to grow in our professional lives. A lot more of us educators should consider entering academic competitions such as the Gulf Educational Awards, Hamdan Bin Rashid Distinguished Teacher Award or the Global Teacher Prize. Competitions like these allow educators the opportunity to showcase the hard work and creativity you put into your classes.

As teachers in such a diverse international setting as the UAE, we push our students to be lifelong learners with a focus on global citizenship. Despite this, we often have little interaction with others outside the school walls. Educators who participate in outside competitions have a chance to share with those beyond the confines of their school community the wonderful and innovative things going on in their classrooms. Participation in competitions gives an educator the chance to try out new instructional techniques, theories or ideas and gain valuable feedback from unbiased peers, who are not invested in the success or failure of the programme being explored.

Competitions also give teachers a chance to network with other education industry professionals. Professional development is often thought of as in service classes, but in reality it comes in a wide variety of forms. Networking with fellow teachers and simply initiating conversation about best instructional practices can be a valuable professional development opportunity that can bring back useful information to your classroom. Becoming a finalist, or winning an educational competition can generate recognition for both you and your school. It can build your personal CV and enhance your reputation in the educational community.

Educators who enter competitions can use them as a chance to be model, values of good sportsmanship to their students. Teachers often repeat to their students that winning isn’t everything, and that it’s all about the effort you put into the final project and the personal satisfaction involved in the competition. Regardless of the outcome, your students will see that you are practicing what you preach, and striving to push the same boundaries and horizons you have urged them to push.

In short, perhaps the most important benefit of teachers competing in outside competitions is best put into words by the Harold Cosell quote, “The ultimate victory in competition is derived from the inner satisfaction of knowing that you have done your best and that you have gotten the most out of what you had to give” and what a better example to set for your students.

By Chassie Selouane

Chassie Selouane has a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre & Education, a Master’s of Education Degree – Curriculum Instruction with a specialisation in ESl. Chassie is the Director of Learning at SAIS-Dubai.

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