Thursday, January 22, 2009

Semester End

We are now settled into Apartment 12 and enjoying the light and room the apartment offers. We now have a view.. admittedly it is over a dusty, empty section and into the car park of the shopping centre at the back of Jarir Bookshop but it is a view and not just the bonnets of cars our first apartment gave us.

Relaxing with the Gulf Times.
Joy has hung the walls with some of her Doha paintings and a silk embroidered wall hanging so the feeling of familiarity and "own-ness" has been established for us.
We can now park the communal car in a covered parking bay at the entrance to the block which means we can be assured of a park each evening and a lot more ease in unloading from the car after any trip into town or from work.

This week was wind-down week for school. While there are similarities to N.Z. students regarding study and post exam attitudes (i.e. The big question dominant in their minds being "once the school exams are over do we really have to come to school?") the dominant attitude here was "Now the exams are over school has finished until next semester." This meant we didn't see any students at all this week although a good few came in to collect their reports on Wednesday.

This hiatus has meant that we have been able to get on to fuller analysis of issues in the Departments and to explore the resource cupboards around the school. Dave discovered that the school has been equipped in the science subjects quite lavishly.. 6 or 12 pieces of equipment which, in a NZ school would be represented with a single piece or having a permanent place of the Departmental senior studies wish list. He has been swooning with envy every day as he unearthed unopened boxes of materials and demonstrated to the science technician and teachers how the equipment works.
The Library - Reading Area.
The library - Arabic section.
I managed to get into the Library and explore the shelves in the "English" section. It became obvious that this section was the repository of textbooks and not of general fiction. There were three shelf sections stacked up, often two deep, of readers and resource-books that should be in the classroom. My mission: To get the books out of the Library and into the classroom so the constant grammar lessons can be broken up and the students encouraged to read and respond to English.

I spent a good deal of the past week writing up a report and set of recommendations on how to improve the teaching of English - on one level to help me formulate my thoughts about how to encourage students to engage with English as a subject and a language they have been encouraged to adopt so that Qatar can even more firmly establish itself on the world stage and on another level to get some debate among the staff about their teaching techniques and how to get around their fixation with the THEY of the Supreme Education Council and the belief that the 100s of Standards at each grade level must be all individually be formally taught and assessed. This could mean an interesting session or two next semester. Although I think there is a willingness to make some serious moves towards being more creative in teaching practice.

Staff in conversation at the MBAW Dinner.

On Wednesday the Principal, Mr.Nasser, shouted the staff and their families to a lunch in celebration of the news that the school had been awarded third place on the Independent Schools rankings this year. The rankings were based on surveys of parents, students and teachers of their satisfaction with the school's performance in many areas. MBAW was ranked highly in most areas the survey covered.

The Lunch began with speeches, readings from the Koran, a poem by one of the teachers' daughters about the suffering of children in Gaza and a presentation entitled "MBAW then and now." The presentation was a graphic description of how far the school has come since it came into the Independent School structures. The slides of pre-independence showed a school that was grafitti covered and battered so that the establishing of the present calm and tidy environment for which all those surveyed praised is a definite success story.

The lunch was generous - salads, hummus, breads, braised lamb and chicken, rice, potatoes, stuffed vine and cabbage leaves and several different selections of dessert. It was interesting to watch how the meal was eaten - the more traditional squatted on carpets and ate with bread and fingers while others favoured the table and a fork along with bread.

One of the Islamic studies teachers receiving his certificate of appreciation from Mr. Nasser.
We all were awarded a certificate in a velvet frame and an embossed gold statement of thanks in arabic on the front by the Principal amid great out bursts of clapping and cheering from the staff.
The certificate of appreciation.

On Thursday Joy went for her driver's licence - a trip to the Traffic Police Station and the ritual of form filling and stamping that now permits her to enter the dodgem tracks of Doha.

The Apartment block is emptying as colleagues head off on travels - the Mazda group are off to Tunisia, England, N.Z & Australia, Egypt and Europe.


JoMo said...

Hi Alan and Joy
I'm thinking about forwarding this to my Principal - he might get some ideas about staffroom catering!!
As always, fascinating reading
Love Jo

The Curmudgeon said...

Pleased you're enjoying the blog, Jo. The experience is certainly both rewarding and a challenge.