I’m gearing up for the first week of school except I’ve already had my first week at school. Confusing? Yep, I know.
The school holidays work differently here because term times revolve around Islamic festivals – alhamdullilah! All staff resumed work with a staggered start: first the senior leadership team, then new starters, and finally the whole school. We were in school for a week without the students; it was sort of like a week of INSET days.
Then it was Eid ul Adha for which we’ve had a whole 9 days off. Considering how in the UK I have had exams on Eid day, lost a job because I refused to work on Eid, and reduced the two/three-day celebration to the one day I was ‘lucky’ enough to take off, this was a very welcome change. Of course this means there will be no October half term (ouch), but I much prefer it this way because these first two weeks eased the settling in process.
I am conscious of the numerous things I hadn’t even considered but Allah s.w.t planned for me – I am grateful for His perfection and Him taking care of everything right down to the tiniest details. For example, despite the fact that no teacher has her own classroom (the school’s intake is growing too rapidly), I am one of the two lucky teachers who has a classroom. I absolutely hate travelling to work – it is exhausting – but once again alhamdullilah, the school is practically on my doorstep.
The school day is jam-packed with seven lessons a day plus two form sessions, but the earlier start and finish times mean I can enjoy a siesta and still have time to do errands/marking/planning. It’s a much healthier balance than the 10+ hour shifts and late night zombie mode I was subjected to at home. I can’t comment just yet on whether the workload will be just as heavy but I know already the school’s ethos promotes a healthy work-life balance. And the country itself is all about family life. So, here 2pm means ‘home-time’ for students AND teachers. If you stay in school past that, you’re crazy. If you take work home, psychotic. As for coming in during the holidays, well… you get the idea.
And yes I do finish at 2pm but the day begins at 7am. It’s the same working hours as in the UK, just organised differently. For some reason when I share this with people, they fail to put 2 and 2 together and respond with: “You finish at 2? You must have bare time to chill, innit.” *facepalm*
Something I simply couldn’t wait for was the fact that I don’t have to wear hijab in school. It is an all-female environment. Now that I’m here though, it’s a different story. I’m so used to being covered whilst teaching that uncovering feels alarmingly alien, I’m not in any rush to test the hijab-less-feeling-at-work. I’ve been told that’ll soon change when the temperature rises again.
Lastly, my favourite part of it all is that Salah is an integral part of school life and teachers pray Dhuhr with their form groups. What more can I ask for?