Nicole Brand,
from South Africa,
taught in Amman, Jordan. Currently in Doha, Qatar.

Nicole Brand taught at the Bryanston Parallel Medium School in Bryanston, South Africa. She began her international teaching in Jordan at the International Academy Amman, before moving to Doha in Qatar in 2011.

Nicole and her class

Nicole and her class

Nicole tells us about her international teaching experience. 

Moving schools offered a new adventure. I had to get used to a new country, new friends, new colleagues and a new curriculum, but as I had done it before I found the experience much easier. The school I’m teaching at now is absolutely love, and the people are always happy to help and support you.

In Jordan, I was teaching the Curriculum for England and Wales, but I am now teaching the IB’s Primary Years Programme. I went from a very structured curriculum to a more open minded one, and I absolutely love it. It’s great for children to explore and learn in a more hands on manner. This is what I tried to do in Jordan with my teacher, and I took some idea from there and added it to the classes in Qatar.

The staff in both schools have a wide range of nationalities, including American, Australian, British, French, Russian, Dutch, South African and Canadian. While in Jordan most of the children were local, my school now has children with a wide variety of backgrounds, with 60 different nationalities coming together to form one truly international school.

The experience is making me open to different ideas and ways of teaching. I really value learning different teaching skills and strategies from different cultures and countries. I learnt so much in a short time. Also I really value the support I’m getting from the staff. There was a lot of pressure at first but there are lots of members of staff who are supportive and who helped me to settle in.  There are some really stunning people here. I think it is excellent for my professional and personal development, especially meeting people from all over the world and sharing traditions and culture.

Nicole visiting the Pyramids in Cairo

Nicole visiting the Pyramids in Cairo

Jordan is a safe and friendly country. The local people always want to help out where they can. For a single lady travelling to a Middle Eastern country, I think Jordan is a great place to come to as it is very Westernised, but also still traditional. Qatar is very different from Jordan, as it is a bit more commercialised with less local culture, as well as having a large expatriate community which makes socialising a bit easier. 
Jordan has most of its social activities based on outdoor events, while in Qatar there is a wide variety. I enjoy my running, so in both countries I took part in many events such as the run from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea in Jordan, and a mountain relay called the Wadi Bin Run in Qatar. Also, I’ve bought my first Kayak, so I now go kayaking in the Gulf at the weekend!

The key to teaching in the Middle East is to just be open minded and embrace every opportunity that comes your way. Do not expect that everything is going to come to you. You have to put the effort in to go out and make new friends. It can be very easy to be withdrawn in your only little world, yet just as easy to meet people.

For now I am happy in Qatar, and wouldn’t mind staying here for another 2 years. After this, I might consider going to Vietnam or Thailand, but you never know what the international circuit will offer you! The great thing with teaching internationally is that you never look back again, the opportunities in your life become endless. You get to travel all over the world and teach an incredibly wide variety of children. It makes you such a diverse person and teacher. Grab an opportunity like this and embrace every moment!

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