International student teacher internship programme launches with success for all
Canadian student teachers complete a year's intership at Qatari international schools
During the 2013-2014 academic year, international school recruitment experts Teachers International Consultancy (TIC) introduced an international student teacher internship programme. The programme offered student teachers from Canada an opportunity to complete their teaching practicum in an international school in Qatar.
TIC worked collaboratively with a Canadian university faculty of education to offer placements to teaching candidates in two of Qatar’s leading international schools. The university internship is a final programme requirement of the Bachelors in Education degree (B.Ed) and is intended to extend and strengthen the learning experience of teachers before they attain qualified teacher status. For Canadian teachers, this internship involves full-time teaching experience for five weeks.
TIC’s international student teacher internship programme included:
• School Placement
• Curriculum information
• Assistance in finding free accommodation through host school
• Travel support
• Guide to living and working in the Middle East
• Airport pick up
• Organised weekend excursions
• Continual support throughout the internship
Two of this year’s interns were student teachers, Sarah Brown and Ateeqa Arain. Sarah was a Junior/Intermediate PE student teacher and Ateeqa was qualifying to teach Primary/Junior. Sarah and Ateeqa were keen to explore international education and curriculum, and to gain experience teaching within the international school environment. Both were looking for new and unique opportunities to build upon their individual skills and experiences before making the transition into full-time teaching. Sarah and Ateeqa completed their internships so successfully that they were both offered full-time jobs in the schools they interned with. Here are their stories:
Teaching PE at ACS Middle School
"She's a natural born teacher." – Dale Taylor, ACS Middle School Principal.
ACS is an IB World School and the Middle School (where Sarah was working) teaches the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP). Sarah quickly built up an excellent rapport with her students as her enthusiasm for teaching and extracurricular activities was infectious.
During her first week, she was surprised how jet-lagged she felt. The long journey and quick immersion in to her new school was quite an adjustment, but she really enjoyed every minute of it and appreciated the welcoming environment at the school.
"I have loved my experience at ACS Doha so far, and have thoroughly enjoyed experiencing such a diverse group of students and teachers in a brand new educational environment,” Sarah said at the end of her first week in Qatar. “It is beyond anything I've experienced before. I haven't had much time to actually explore Doha at length yet, but my first impressions have all been extremely positive; great climate, friendly people, interactive city!"
Over her five weeks at ACS Doha, Sarah took on an increasing number of teaching responsibilities. This was her first experience of teaching the IB’s Middle Years Programme and, although it was very different from the Ontario curriculum, Sarah felt it really suited her open and creative teaching style. The learning atmosphere in the school was unique and this enabled her to get to know the students in a short space of time, including learning about their different cultures and backgrounds. "One of the girls, who is only twelve years old, had already moved seven times!” said Sarah, during her internship. “She could not believe that I have never moved. I love the way the kids really embrace where they are from,” she added.
Sarah talks about some of the distinct differences between teaching in a national school in Canada compared to an international school. She says the most noticeable difference was the feeling of community and closeness between staff, and the relationship with parents: "I was invited to a mother's birthday party. That doesn't happen at home. It was on the beach and we just relaxed with the family for an afternoon. It was an awesome experience,” she says.
Hailey Fazekas, who is based in Doha, was the TIC representative who supported the students during their internship programme. “When I visited Sarah at the school, we couldn't turn a corner without the students calling out "Ms. Sarah!" says Hailey. “On my visit to the school in Sarah’s final week, it was evident that she had really contributed to the school community.”
Dale Taylor is the Middle School Principal at ACS Doha. "The benefit to the school was having a new and innovative teacher who contributed to our educational programmes,” he said. “Sarah's exposure to recent educational theories was shared with her colleagues at the school, and they also benefitted from this knowledge. Students were motivated to learn by having a young, dynamic, and personable newly qualified teacher in the room. The students were very excited to have an intern and her lessons were very captivating. Sarah was well versed in the latest technology, and used this to promote student interest and learning. The three teachers who mentored Sarah, also had to revisit and think about their own practice in order to guide Sarah. Their preparations to guide Sarah also resulted in learning and professional development for our teachers. To mentor and guide an intern is a tremendous PD opportunity. Sarah, being young and personable, also acted as an informal advisor to the students. This gave the students an opportunity to go to someone other than their teacher to receive help, advice, and guidance."
Following her successful internship, Sarah was offered a full time job with ACS Doha and is working there now.
Teaching Primary at Compass International School Al Khor
Ateeqa felt very positive when she arrived in Qatar from Canada. "My first impression was very good, I liked seeing the beautiful buildings complimenting the ocean!" she says.
Ateeqa completed her internship at Compass International Al Khor. This is a relatively new school located in an area of development 25 minutes from North Doha. The school achieved exceptional success in its recent BSO (British Schools Overseas) and BSME (British Schools of the Middle East) inspections and accreditation.
Ateeqa worked in a Year 3 class for her entire five weeks. "When I came to Qatar to do my internship, I had not lived on my own before, so I thought it would be quite a challenge having to manage my life,” admits Ateeqa. “I found it to be quite easy and it helped that English is used here along with Arabic. However when it came to managing professional and personal aspects, I did not do so well. I worked alongside my Year 3 team very well, but I gave myself little time to go out and enjoy myself. I became a bit of a workaholic even though I wasn't exactly working! This has always been tough for me and it was more so because I was in a strange place and couldn't really go out much without company. My teacher was quite wonderful and supportive of everything that I did, she made me feel like another teacher in the classroom and not a student."
After the first week, Ateeqa began to take on more of the teaching responsibilities in her class and quickly built up a good relationship with the children. It was her first time working with the UK national curriculum. "I find the British curriculum to be a little different and a bit similar to the Canadian curriculum,” said Ateeqa during her time at Compass. “It is more structured and I like a structured approach to education.”
Hailey visited Ateeqa at the school during the final week of her internship and had chance to talk to Lydie Gonzales, the Year 3 teacher Ateeqa had worked with. When asked for advice for future interns, Lydie shared the importance of teacher candidates being familiar with their own national curriculum, pedagogy and assessment methodology: "It will help them adapt to those of international schools,” Lydie said. “Similarly, they need to remember that the teaching strategies they have learned at home need to be transferred and, most importantly, tailored to suit the local cultural context and at the same time the international aspect of their international school. We all have our ideals, but we have to accept that they are general and not contextual," she added.
The diverse student population of an international school can bring with it a unique set of challenges which Ateeqa fully embraced. This included the multilingual barriers that both staff and students have to adjust to. “Being an English speaker, it was a bit difficult at times to be with students who speak Arabic because I had no idea what they were saying. I don't like feeling that way,” she said. “However I intend learning Arabic in the future so that I can better understand and communicate with the students, families, and the Arabic speaking staff."
The school loved having Ateeqa and offered her a position as a full time staff member as Vice Principal of Compass Al Khor, Sarah Graves explains: “The Internship Programme offered to the school by Hailey through her work with TIC Recruitment was a very successful event at CISAK this year,” she says. “Both our staff and students benefited from the experience as it offered mentoring opportunities for teachers as well as global exposure to our students, learning new knowledge and skills from a trainee teacher. The programme offered aspiring middle management staff the opportunity to take on extra responsibilities as well as a chance to share their teaching knowledge and skills with a student teacher. This year’s internship resulted in the school interviewing the intern and offering her a position in the school and on the NQT programme next year. The school would definitely like to continue to be involved in this programme and recommends it to other international schools that support ongoing learning experiences for their staff and students.”
Life beyond school – exploring Qatar
During the weekends, Hailey organised several exciting Qatari experiences for Sarah and Ateeqa. This included dune bashing with a breath-taking trip across the desert and over the sand dunes to the marvellous inland sea area near the Qatar- Saudi Arabia border. There were also trips to the malls, browsing the old Souq Waqif, and Doha’s infamous Friday brunch experience!