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For Math Teachers by Math Teachers

How I ended up teaching this fall in Abu Dhabi!

This post is written by Marsha Parris, a mathematics teacher in the RUSMP network.

I have always wanted to live overseas and have been on the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) list for a few years.  One of my co-workers told me about Teach Away, a recruiting agency for teachers seeking employment abroad.  I submitted an application last fall, and then interviewed in Phoenix in March of this year.  I was offered a math teaching position in Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates (UAE).  I then started the process of getting all my documents ready in order to leave in August.

I left Houston on August 19 and arrived in Abu Dhabi at 1:50am on the 21st.  The Abu Dhabi Department of Education Council gave teachers from abroad a half a week to get our bearings, and then we proceeded to orientation.  At orientation we were given our teaching assignments.  I am going to be working in the western region in a town called Ghayathi at an all girls’ school, grades 6-12.

This is the first year in this country that there will be English-licensed teachers in the secondary grades.  This is also the first year that female instructors will teach in secondary all boys’ schools.  This country has been undergoing tremendous education reform for the past four to five years.  During our orientation, I met teachers from all over the world. The range of ages of the teachers is from mid-twenties to early fifties; there are teachers who have taught only three years and those who have just recently retired!

The training facilitators were from New Zealand, England, and Scotland.  We spent most of our time just getting on the same page with our vocabulary.  For example, we will use the term “learning outcome” instead of “objective.”  We discussed differentiation, assessments, and the curriculum.  I am teaching sixth-grade math this year, and am excited that I will be able to spend six weeks developing number fluency!  All tests are scored using rubrics, which is a tad scary since I will have about 150 students. Thanks goodness I will be able to set up my iPad with a spreadsheet to keep track of all the data I am to collect.

Teach Away is looking for teachers who are flexible (not the “sage on the stage”), looking for adventure, and able to deal with a very laid back lifestyle.

I am excited about this opportunity and feel blessed to be part of this program.

Marsha Parris


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