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K is for...KG1

 Friday, April 13, 2012

I teach the local children, literacy, math, and science (all in English).

Public education in Abu Dhabi has four groups: KG (1 & 2), Cycle One (1st - 5th grade), Cycle Two (6th - 9th grade), and Cycle Three (10th - 12th grade). When I started my Abu Dhabi journey, I'd hoped for Cycle One, more specifically 4th grade. After all, my favorite age group was 4th - 8th grade, and my employer was not hiring for Cycle Two. I'd hoped and prayed for 4th grade. In my interview, I was told 4th grade boys (beginning in Cycle One, boys & girls are separated). I came to Abu Dhabi expecting 4th grade.

Then I got my assignment.

I was going to a KG school. Just so you know, KG1 is equivalent to US preschool and KG2 is equivalent to US Kindergarten. KG??? I sooo didn't want KG, but that's where they sent me. My school is brand new. We met a few weeks before school started so we could come up with everything that comes with being a new school. We patiently - ok impatiently - waited for our assignments. I'd hoped for KG2 instead of KG1.

Then I got my assignment.

KG1...three and four year olds. I've never taught kids that small! I don't count summer camp at church. I swallowed my disappointment and started the school year with a positive attitude.

I must admit. This is one time I've been glad God said no to my prayer request and gave me something else. I absolutely adore my students. They're my babies. So precious and wanting to soak up everything they learn. Yes, some of the behavior drives me crazy. The good thing is, they're at the age where we can change certain behaviors that they've gotten away with elsewhere. And seeing their growth! Man, I LOVE watching them grow. I have students who didn't say anything at the beginning of the school year & now they're participating in class, playing with their classmates. I have students who cried at the beginning of the school year cos they wanted to stay home with mommy. I mean, everyday. Crying like someone was doing terrible harm to them. And now? They love coming to school. When they call my name, run to me, and give me big hugs? Ahhh, pulls at the heartstrings. And their English! Some of them have picked up English quickly. They even help with the students who may be still struggling.

My employer made changes, so I now have two classes instead of one. Double the work, but double the kids for me to reach (have to think positive about this change or I'd go crazy, lol). Here is what my schedule looks like:

  • 8:00 - 8:30 Calendar
  • 8:30 - 10:00 Class #1
  • 10:00 - 10:40 Planning Time
  • 10:40 - 12:10 Class #2
  • 12:10 - 12:30 Dismissal
Looks easy, huh? Students leave at 12:30, but teachers have to stay til 2. Teaching 50 three and four year-olds who don't understand my language isn't as easy as people think. Although my day ends at 2, I'm usually DRAINED by the time I get home. It feels as if I was at school all day. I don't love the technicalities of teaching (how they want you to teach, the paper work, the evaluations, etc), but I love teaching. Despite the energy I lose and the technicalities, I love what I do. The excitement my students get when they understand a concept in English is soooo contagious. Seeing the smiles on their faces, hearing the excitement, having them show their love for me, makes it all worth it.

I'm so glad God put me in KG1. Did I mention they're my babies? Cos they are. My heart. I love my babies!

And now for some Arabic vocabulary...

kabeer - big
khamsa - five (the "kh" sound is from your throat...like your about to spit; gross I know, but that's the only way I could describe it).


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This blog is all about my adventures while living in Abu Dhabi. Come along with me for what will be an awesome experience. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!

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