Teachers and Teaching in Dubai, UAE
General information, and pros and cons of teaching in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, UAE
The Pros: Teaching in Dubai and the UAE can be one of the most rewarding experiences you will have, at least that's what the boss will tell you. Sarcasm and cliches aside, teachers in a good school in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, or anywhere else in the UAE, will normally enjoy the experience (embassy schools and non-profit schools are usually the best ones). The students are interesting and enthusiastic, generally well-motivated (if not, parents paying 30,000+ dhs per year will motivate them), and compared to teaching in any other big city, you'll have no or few discipline problems.
The Cons: There are some schools which are less pleasant though. Long hours for little reward (although the students usually appreciate the teachers' efforts) and seemingly endless difficulties with administrative procedures - visas, housing, etc. Some schools will have discipline problems that are difficult to deal with - students threatening teachers with getting them sacked for example (if management supports the students, it becomes awkward). The UAE schools information pages have a rating system where you can view what other teachers think of a school, and add your own vote.
Most schools are somewhere between the two extremes. Read any contracts carefully, get everything down in writing, don't expect any favors once you've signed up, don't rock the boat once you get here and you should be fine. Just like any job - read the jobs in Dubai page for a bit more detail. If you were promised something but did not get it in writing, don't expect it to materialise.
More Cons: One thing that exasperates many teachers who first move to the UAE is the favoritism shown towards certain students (the ones who have a degree of influence over school management for whatever reason - either wasta, or because they or their parents are spineless and whine a lot). It's the way it goes in the UAE and it won't change in a hurry. Just remember that if you lose your job because of your principles, the student will probably still get what they wanted. And you won't have a job.
More Cons: Management in UAE schools seems to be particularly irksome compared to elsewhere. Almost as if the administrative offices are a graveyard for has-been heads and principals the rest of the world doesn't want. Try and stay out of their way and don't annoy any of the high-wasta (influential) students. Incompetent bosses are also quite often lazy so if their radar does latch on to you, the Sir Humphrey strategy can be quite effective: say Yes, Minister (with enthusiasm - you should at least appear genuine) to any request and then ignore it. With any luck they'll be fired by the owners before your own tardiness gets found out. This strategy won't work so easily in the non-profit schools since heads usually seem to last longer, and they have more of a clue in the first place anyway.
More Cons: Like anywhere, office politics can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you adapt to it. Ignoring it is not usually a good idea though. Remember when whining about the management in the staffroom, that every efficient manager will have a plant in there somewhere - it won't be the grumpy Father Ted in the corner, it's more likely to be the one who's your new best friend ever within 5 minutes of you arriving for the first time in the UAE.
But there are some pros too ... it's not all doom and gloom ... unless you wind up in a doomy gloomy school or you're a doomy gloomy teacher, or both.
Teaching qualifications in Dubai
Teacher training in Dubai and the UAE
UAE colleges and universities (search for BEd or MEd in the Qualifications selection) offering teacher training programs and education degrees include (some institutes restrict entry to UAE nationals only though):
Teach in Dubai scheme (KHDA / Dubai Schools Agency)
Working hours in Dubai schools
Most schools will start earlier than many teachers are used to. Typically, the school day will begin around 0730 or 0800 for students, and finish around 1430 or 1500, with an hour or so for lunch. The working week is Sunday to Thursday with a handful of schools having an early finish on Thursday.
Like schools everywhere, there will be marking, lesson preparation, meetings, parents evenings, extra-curricular activities, playground supervision, assemblies, international gala days, sports days, cover lessons, etc to occupy every other waking minute you might have planned to use for your own personal enjoyment. But don't worry, you get plenty of holidays, as all your non-teaching friends will remind you. Of course, the highest paid teachers will invariably be the most cynical ones who seem to get away with doing almost nothing. They're easy to spot - they'll be doing the crossword puzzle in the staffroom whenever you walk in. Learn from them.
Dress code in Dubai and UAE schools
Whilst it's true that the UAE is an Islamic country, it's relatively tolerant so you won't be expected to cover up completely. Men should wear a collar and tie (and trousers of course), it would be unusual to find a school where that wasn't the case. Jackets are not usually required or worn. It would be rare to see a teacher wearing a suit, and if they are, they're likely to be saying either "I do", or "Yes, your honour."
Depending on the school, women wear pretty much what they'd wear as a teacher anywhere else, although short skirts or sleeveless tops will get frowned upon. In the more conservative schools (usually ones with predominantly Arab students), females might be expected to wear ankle length skirts, and long sleeve tops but check with the school - some are more relaxed than many new residents expect. Scarves or other head coverings are not required for those who don't normally wear them. During Ramadan, it would be appropriate to dress more conservatively.
Sharjah has "Decency Laws" meaning men shouldn't wear shorts in public, and women should cover their arms and legs. Schools in Sharjah may have more conservative expectations than other emirates with respect to dress code.
The GEMS schools in 2006 had the bright idea of requiring their teachers to wear uniforms, which said more about what GEMS management thought of their teachers than anything else. Then again, most GEMS school teachers ... well, teachers in all schools for that matter ... probably know what management think of them already. The students were delighted. The idea was hopefully thrown out with the lunchroom trash at the end of that day.
Teacher Recruitment Agencies and Finding Jobs for Teachers and Teaching in Dubai
Teaching visas in Dubai and UAE
Last update Wednesday 20-Nov-2013
Blogs from teachers in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, UAE
Note that blogs listed here are ones suggested and/or found in public search results (contact us if you want to suggest one). We are not in the business of trying to publicise private or secret information but we assume if a blog is publicly accessible then the blogger is happy for the general public to access it. If you want your blog removed from this list, please contact us. And read our discussion about personal information on the internet in the meantime.