Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Peek At My Day - Teaching Abroad in KG1

The school year is beginning to wind down although we are not out until July but the kiddos are finishing in June.  Those lucky ducks!  I follow several Facebook groups for teachers who are coming abroad to teach in the UAE and who are already here in the trenches.  A common trend I've seen this last week is that everyone wants to know what a typical classroom day looks like.  Well, no day is typical and EVERY day is completely different and full of surprises.  But I'll do my best to give you a snapshot.

Kindergarten is made of two grade levels - KG1 and KG2.  I consider KG1 to be the equivalent of preschool back home and KG2 would be like regular kindergarten.  Only in KG do EMTs (what I'm called - an English Medium Teacher) co-teach in the same room with an AMT (Arabic Medium Teacher).

Here's my daily schedule:

Morning Assembly (Tabore)

Teachers arrive at 7:30 am and the students arrive around then and begin gathering in the gym.  The whole school meets and goes over announcements, sings the national anthem, and rotates through each class (two a day) for a short performance.


Students arrive in the classroom and perform the usual duties...putting backpacks in the cabinet, jackets in the basket (in cooler weather), turn their attendance card to show they are here, and put snack money in the pocket chart.

Free Choice Centers

Students are given time to just play and practice the previous day's skills.  They are allowed to choose any activity throughout the classroom.


Islam is a big part of the culture here and is the main religion practiced in the country.  Time is given every day in the public schools to study the religion.  During this time (since I do not speak Arabic or read the Quran) is to monitor student behaviors and assist my co-teacher as needed.


Students either bring a small snack/lunch (looks more like lunch to me) or can buy a small sandwich, cucumber or banana, and a drink (juice, liquid yogurt called laban, milk, or water).  Choices vary and some items are not always available.  Snack time is shared between myself and my co-teacher.  I might do one day and she does the next.  This allows one of us to have almost 20 minutes of prep time which usually goes towards setting up the centers for after snack.

Literacy Direct Instruction

This is our circle time. We have a 10 minute lesson based on the school-wide theme (a theme can last for several weeks), followed by a brain break, then 10 more minutes of instruction (preferably shared writing).  Some days I lead the instruction and my Arabic co-teacher translates and adds more information.  Other times, my Arabic co-teacher begins and I do my best to translate into English the gist of the lesson.

Literacy Centers

Each week we try to have at least five literacy centers. These usually include an art center (drawing and labeling a picture using vocabulary cards), play dough, construction (theme related), writing, and reading. Some students also work on computers during this time.  Either my co-teacher or myself will hold a small guided reading group during centers. The teacher not holding the group is responsible for managing the students at centers and taking anecdotal notes and/or assessment.

Numeracy Direct Instruction

This is our second circle time.  It is formatted very similar to the literacy direct instruction.  We try to follow the gradual release model for instruction (I do, we do, you do).  Just like during literacy time my co-teacher and I will alternate instruction so it is delivered in Arabic and English.  I try to always plan a hands-on activity for the students based on the concept we are learning before releasing them to centers. Since they are ELL kiddos I feel this is very important to understanding their learning.  You can read all about an example numeracy/math lesson in my blog post here.

Numeracy Centers

Our numeracy centers are usually the same center names as our literacy centers but with different activities.  We change our center activities weekly but usually have art center, writing, play dough, construction, computers, and numeracy.  Art center might be to create a picture of the week's math concept like draw a heavy and a light object.  We will also encourage students to use the vocabulary cards to label their pictures.  The writing center might be set up to write their numerals and draw objects to match.  Construction they could be making numbers, making long and short lines with the blocks, experimenting to create a balance for weighing items.  Play dough usually stays the same and will be making their numbers using play dough mats with ten frames which can be found here.  The numeracy center is really just a designated table which we will put a variety of activities to work on number sense. Students will often choose a tub to take to another location or work at the table.

Again, during center time one teacher will hold small groups while the other rotates among the centers collecting assessment data and informational notes.


At our school we have P.E. (usually called sport or riada), music, and library.  For music and P.E. we have a true prep period and can use the time for the usual teacher things:  checking email, entering grades, preparing the next lessons.  During library one of us must stay with the class the entire time. There is a librarian who will provide lessons to fulfill her own outcomes but once the lesson is finished, the teacher is responsible for keeping the students engaged and on-task.

Daily Reflection Time

I love this time of day!  Every day at the end of the day we try to have students reflect on what they have learned.  I truly believe this is an integral part of their learning and is so beneficial to these students to practice and speak in English.  I have witnessed some amazing growth from this reflection time.  A more detailed blog post about daily reflection time is in the works - just in time for you to see about incorporating it into your day next year.


Most students ride the bus home as you can see by our chart above.  Only one student is picked up from school each day.  All teachers are required to be on bus duty and escort their assigned bus kiddos onto the bus each day.  Once the students leave, most teachers use this time to finally eat something. Twice a week we have one hour of professional development/meetings.  On a non-meeting day (provided lesson plans for the following week are finished) I can go home at 1 pm.  On meeting days, we leave school at 2:30 pm.  Definitely a nice change from back home!  However, all schools tend to be a little different. While what you've read above is typical for my day it may not be typical for another teacher at a different KG school.  

If you have any questions or I forgot to cover something, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you!

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