Teaching Abroad in Saudi Arabia: Guest Post from Siham


Hi! (Marhaba!)

            It is such an exciting experience to be able to share my teaching story with the world through this beautiful blog of Lindsay Marcaccio! As I believe that we teachers live a life of not only decorating classrooms and planning lessons, but touching hearts and building futures. So let us get started!

            My name is Siham Ouri (It is true that Arabic names have meanings, mine means arrows. Cool right?!) I am Palestinian American who was fortunate to experience the life of two rich cultures, Saudi Arabia and Western American culture. I majored in Early Childhood/Special Education program in Brooklyn College, New York and was able to add a second major which was Children and Youth Studies. My training and student teaching were in public schools as well as private schools all around New York City. I was able to experience the different classroom cultures among Head Start pre-schools, Catholic schools, and public schools. During summer time I used to visit Jeddah City in Saudi Arabia and teach ELL students who are between 3-6 years of age. These summer experiences had added to my skill of teaching students who are English language learners with diverse backgrounds. Besides student teaching, I had the opportunity to receive an internship job at the Kings County District Attorney office in Brooklyn, New York as part of my research study of juveniles with learning disabilities. It was a thrilling experience, one which I am fortunate to be able to take part of and research for. 

Kindergarten grade level is what perfectly fit my personality! I love to laugh, dance and read children’s books. But above all, I love changing lives…

The reason I decided to move to Saudi Arabia is because of the high demand of special education kindergarten teachers. Unfortunately, just like most countries around the world, students are being misdiagnosed and mistreated due to learning disabilities and unwanted behaviors. Every child who lacks eye contact is autistic and every child who enjoys too much of playing time is hyper active. I accepted the challenge of changing the lives of families and work on different cases, one student at a time. I designed a classroom where every child would feel welcome and safe to interact; a classroom where the definition of normal and abnormal is prohibited to describe any behavior. Each of my students learns differently, and each of my students receives accommodation designed especially for their learning needs.  

Kindergarten Classroom

Teaching in Saudi Arabia is different because no matter how culturally alike the families appear to you, they are diverse when it comes to the idea of meaningful education. Recently I am working in an international school which follows Cambridge British curriculum besides the Ministry of Education’s curriculum of Arabic and Islamic studies. As an American, international schools are the best environment to practice your experience in teaching due to the rich facilities and resources provided to teachers - It is pretty much like teaching in the states! Students love to read stories, engage in high-tech learning and explore new ideas and cultures. Most of my students travel the world and thus their perspective on many introduced concepts inside the classroom is rich and experienced. For example, during my student teaching, it was suggested that students who do not experience winter as a season should not be taught facts about snow in early ages. I had no issue with this here in Saudi Arabia because almost every child in my class had traveled to the states or Europe and knew exactly what snow is like. 

 

 In New York, public and private schools were thriving to hunt for the perfect curriculum which meets the common core standards and provide equal yet modified learning experiences to all students of different backgrounds, ethnicity, learning styles and needs. In Jeddah, international schools seek the same goal but without having clear grade level standards. The curriculum coordinator along with the teachers meet occasionally to modify curriculum standards based on the culture and students’ level of learning. Inside classrooms, we are all pretty much the same when it comes to thematic bulletin boards, Smart Board technology, learning centers and hands on lessons. I even had the chance to link my kindergarten classroom with a classroom in England for a diverse cooperative learning. We would Skype a couple times per semester and engage in similar lessons and activities. 

Skyping: Using technology in the classroom
Unfortunately, a lot of people have a negative idea about teaching in Saudi Arabia and even the type of classrooms we are provided with. But truth to be told, I am currently experiencing the same joy inside my classroom as I had experienced while student teaching in New York! 

 Future goals:

  • To continue on creating hands on educational products to assess ELL students and students with learning difficulties.
  • To obtain my masters degree which I have started a year ago in Education Leadership from the University of New England (yes! I absolutely recommend such major!)
  • To continue my journey of traveling the world and help spread awareness about teaching students with learning difficulties.
  • Publishing a parents’ and teachers’ guide e-book as well as children’s books.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Blossom

Siham Ouri, TPT author of Blossom. Kindergarten special education teacher in Saudi Arabia.  Child advocate in the Middle East and a writer at Child and Mother Guide magazine.

Click Siham's logo to the left to visit her Teachers Pay Teachers store, Blossom. You can also find her on Pinterest and Instagram!

https://www.pinterest.com/BlossomEdu/?etslf=18784&eq=Blossomeduhttps://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Blossom

Thanks for reading our first #WorldwideWednesday post! Come back next week for Emma's post about teaching in Brunei!

1 comment:

  1. Interesting and enjoyable read Siham (and Lindsay). Love the international classroom skyping! I wish you all the best with your future goals - very inspiring :)

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