The Process

Okay, so you’ve made it this far.

You’ve gotten a fair idea of the teaching, and the lifestyle and culture you can expect out here, and you’re still keen on giving it a go. Great!

I’m going to break this post into sections too, so feel free to just jump to the relevant part, or read from start to finish. Let’s get into it.

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  • Finding A Job
  • Contracts: What to Look (Out) For
  • Getting a Visa
  • When You Get Here

Finding A Job

There are two ways you can go about getting a job – on your own, or through a company. I remember being advised by a lecturer in college to search on my own through TES when I was looking at the UK, as the companies take a percentage of your wages for setting you up. Over here, however, the schools generally pay a commission to the company instead, which doesn’t affect the money that you earn, so there’s really no reason not to seek out the help.

I’m sure there’s other companies out there, but the one I’ve come across is Teach and Explore, which is run by two Irish teachers who will look out for you every step of the way. I got to know Garrett when I brought Teach & Explore in to talk to Pats’ students when I was on the Student Union in college, and he was the obvious choice when I was coming out here. All I had to do was send on my CV, and they did the rest for me. They held interviews in Dublin with some principals from UAE schools, and a few hours later I had a job offer sitting in my inbox.

Now, I didn’t actually end up going through Teach & Explore, as I had a friend working in a different school who got me a job by just handing my CV into the principal, but if you don’t have that kind of connection, I couldn’t recommend Teach & Explore more. They don’t take any of your wages, and they know the schools out here like the back of their hand, so can recommend one for you based on your specific wants or needs.

Contracts: What to Look (Out) For

Okay, so I’m no expert when it comes to jobs in the UAE – I’ve only been here a few months! There are a few things that I remember being advised about, however, so I’ll lay them out here. You might not be able to do anything about them, but you should know what you’re signing up for.

  • Probationary Period: Make sure there’s a probation period in your contract, and ask the school to specifically outline the dates. You can leave without penalty up until this point, without being fined or having to pay the school back for any expenses incurred getting you there.
  • Duration: Most job offers will be for two years. Look out for the penalties for leaving early, and don’t be afraid to ask the school to outline (in writing!) what happens if you want to leave after the probationary period is over. I’m lucky enough to be on a rolling contract, but I know plenty of teachers who are stuck in a school they don’t like, yet have to stick it until the end of their contracts to avoid heavy fines.
  • Gratuity: You should be entitled to a gratuity at the end of your service – 1 months pay for every 12 months worked. However, some schools (like mine), will divide your monthly salary into ‘basic pay’, and ‘allowances’ for flights, housing, utilities etc. Your gratuity will be based on your basic pay, so keep an eye out for that!
  • Salary: I posted earlier in the week about the kind of money you can expect out here. There’s such a huge variance between individuals, due to experience, qualifications and location, to name just a few, that there’s really no benchmark I can give here. Do remember that your contracts can be negotiated though – I managed to get an extra 500AED/mth (€125) because I had a better offer from another school.

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Getting a Visa

The good news is that once you’ve managed to get a job, sorting a visa and teaching licence here is a very simple process. I’ve been on two J1’s, and the paperwork for both of those nine-week trips was far more tedious than coming out here to live and work. The school’s HR department (or the company you go with) will do all the hard work, so you just need to provide them with the right documents. The main ones you will need are:

  • Attested Degree: This basically means you need a UAE official to sign off on your teaching degree to say it’s authentic. Here’s the link you need to get started. You can expect to pay about €200 for this, but you need it to get a teaching licence so there’s not much you can do about it. Make sure you tick the option to have it ‘notarised’. I would advise requesting a second copy of your degree from your university, or else just sending in the original (you’ll get it back), as otherwise they (or you) will have to send it to a solicitor for verification first, which will cost even more.
  • Transcript of Records: Transcript of all your results from college. Should have been provided by your college when you finished.
  • Teaching Licence Registration from Ireland: Can be printed from your Teaching Council login.
  • Employment Letter: A letter from your school, signed by the principal, stating your time spent there. If you have more than one school I would imagine they want letters from them all, as they use it to verify your experience when calculating your salary.
  • Police Clearance: This is not the same thing as Garda Vetting! Just go to your local garda station and tell them you want to apply for police clearance. It basically says you have a clear criminal record. As far as I remember this was free.

That’s it! Once you’ve gathered all of those documents together, just send them all on to your school or company, and wait for them to book your flights. You’re ready to go!

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Once you arrive in the UAE, there are a few other bits you’ll have to sort out. Most of them are easy enough, though.

  • Driving Licence: An absolute pain in the face if you don’t know what you’re doing. You’ll need to go the Emirates Driving School and take an eye test, then get your Irish licence translated. Then you have to download the Abu Dhabi Police App, wait to get a text to say your documents are ready, and go back to print and collect your licence. Expect the entire process to cost about €250. Bring cash and wear long pants – I was turned away for wearing shorts because it’s a government building. It’s a pain to get, but once you get your work visa it’s illegal to drive without it.
  • Emirates ID: Kind of like your passport over here. Sorted by the school. Note that companies (including schools) are not allowed to take this off you, so don’t give it to them!
  • Bank Account: Easy to open and possibly sorted by the school. If you have the option, open it yourself and keep the school out of it – trust me!
  • Rent A Car: Plenty of options to choose from – National and Autorent both do good deals for teachers.
  • Teaching Licence: UAE Licence – sorted by the school.
  • Visa: You’ll arrive on a temporary visa, so the school will organise for you to get your permanent work visa when you arrive. Be aware that you’ll have to hand over your passport for a few days.

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All done! I hope I’ve given you as much help as possible over the last few days. This is the blog that I wish I had before I came out here last year (even though I did have Rebecca, who I know reads this, so thanks Rebecca!). Hopefully it’s been some help to you – if it has, please give me a follow @irishguyteaching on Instagram to see what I’m up to on a day to day basis, and if there’s anything I can help you with send me a message on there or at

Thanks so much for reading, and good luck!

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Badminton – Ideas and Games

If you can get your hands on a set of badminton racquets, some shuttlecocks, and a length of rope, then you have all you need to teach a couple of weeks of lessons.

Here are ten drills, games and ideas that you can use to teach badminton to your class.

Start simple – have the children bounce the shuttlecock off the racquet as many times as possible. You could set a timer and see who can keep it bouncing for a full minute etc. For older classes, you could challenge them to touch the racquet off the ground in between bounces.

Partner Pass
Grab a partner, and pass the shuttlecock without dropping it. Move further apart each time you complete five passes. Try getting the players to run from one end of the court to the other to vary this drill.

Badminton Golf
You will need a number of targets for this one – these could be hula hoops or even cones for older classes. Students hit the shuttlecock, and see how many shots it takes to reach the cone. See the video below to see what it looks like – the quality is awful though!

Put students into groups of six or seven. One student stands in the centre. He/she will pass to each student in turn, and the team will try to complete a full circle without letting the shuttlecock drop. The pattern is: middle student, player one, middle student, player two, etc etc.

Now you can progress on to using a net. If you happen to have badminton nets, lucky you! If not, tie a rope, or sports tape, from wall to wall, or basketball pole to basketball pole. Now you’ve made a net!

Bombs Away!
Put two teams either side of a net, and place an even number of shuttlecocks on each side. Kids must throw the shuttlecocks onto the other side of the net – whichever team has the least on their side when time is up, loses.

Up and Down

For this game, players face a partner across the net. They must hit the ball to their partner, sit/lie down on the ground, and stand up again in time to hit the next shot!

Long and Short Serves
Players work in groups of four to practice serving – see the video below.

Players go in groups of five/six. One player begins as the champion. They play a point against the challenger, starting with a serve. If the champion wins, they earn a point. If the challenger wins, they become the new champion.

One Racquet
This is a challenging game, for older classes. Players go in teams of five or six, but only have one racquet per team. Each team goes in a straight line. The first player hits the shuttlecock, and quickly turns to give the racquet to the next player, before running to the back of the line. The aim is to keep the rally going, or you can make it into a competitive game between the two teams.

Two on Two
Time to get serious. Put players with a partner, and have them play a match against another pair. Play first to ten points, win by two, starting with a serve. If the ball touches the ground, or you hit it out of bounds, you lose the point. Don’t forget to outline the court!

I hope you got some ideas from this post, and are considering giving badminton a try with your class. Let me know if you do over at @irishguyteaching on Instagram!

Olympic/Team Handball – Ideas and Games

Olympic handball is a great sport to teach any class. I particularly like it with older age groups, as the structure of the game enforces team work, and prevents the competitive, sporty students from dominating all of the time.

The rules are very simple.

  • You have a pitch with two goals, the same as a soccer pitch.
  • Each team has a goalkeeper, and there is a box around him that other players cannot enter, about three strides in each direction.
  • The aim of the game is to throw the ball into the goal for a score. The ball is smaller than a soccer ball – see the picture below.
  • When a player has the ball, he/she is allowed to take three steps, before passing/shooting. (In the real game, you can bounce the ball while running, similar to basketball, but I find this lets the stronger kids run the game too much!
  • If the ball drops to the floor, pick it up and play on. You cannot kick or roll the ball.
  • Olympic handball is a non-contact sport – players can slap the ball away, but can’t tackle the player.

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Here is a clip of a game of Olympic handball – just remember that the rules are a little different than what I suggested, so be ready to defend yourself!

A few simple drills you can use before playing competitive matches are:

  1. Drop-Ball: Players throw the ball to each other in a line of three. If anyone drops the ball, the whole team is out. Make players switch hands, place one hand on their head, or lie down to make this more difficult.
  2. Pass, Catch, Shoot: Set out three cones with an equal number of players – back, middle and front. The player at the back passes to the player in the middle, who catches and passes to the front, who shoots. The shooter then collects the ball and each player moves to the next station.
  3. Possession Game: Two teams of 4/5 players play within a grid to complete 5 passes without the ball being intercepted by the other team.
  4. Long and Short: Two players face another pair across the pitch. The ball is passed (short) between partners, and then thrown (long) to the other pair, who repeat the process. Focus on passing the ball without stopping!
  5. Can’t Touch Me: Players go in pairs – each player needs a ball. The players hop on one foot and try to score points by touching the other player with the ball.
  6. Double Time: In pairs, players pass and receive a ball simultaneously. Great for hand-eye coordination and timing!

I took a lot of these drills from the video below, so take a look if you want some more ideas.

I hope this post encourages you to give Olympic handball a try with your class. It’s a nice one to add a bit of energy to the end of the year, when your class are sick of playing basketball or rounders.

If you do decide to give it a go, I’d love to hear how you get on @irishguyteaching on Instagram!


Printmaking (with Foam)

Printmaking is a creative, tactile lesson that offers your kids the chance to explore a new medium.

There are lots of different types of printmaking:

  • Monoprinting: This is where you paint an image onto e.g. the back of a baking tray, and get one ‘print’ by pressing your blank paper on top of it. You can only get one print, as the detail is removed by the transfer paper – hence the name ‘monoprinting’.
  • Screen-printing: This is where you press ink through a stencil onto the page underneath. Screen-printing was most famously used by Andy Warhol in such pieces as ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans’ and ‘Marilyn Diptych’.

The type of printing that will be discussed here, however, is relief printing. This is where an imaged is carved into a surface, and transfer paper is pressed on top of the inked surface. This is commonly done using lino and lino cutters, but this post will look at using foam instead, as it is cheaper and more readily available.

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  1. Place your foam sheet on a blank sheet of paper, and trace the outline.
  2. Sketch your image inside the space you have outlined on the paper.
  3. Place the foam sheet underneath the image, and trace over each line, checking to make sure the image is transferring across. (You can skip steps 1 and 2 and just draw on the foam, but it is more difficult).
  4. Recycle the paper drawing. Retrace the drawing on the foam, etching each line deeply to create relief. (i.e. to ensure that the image you have sketched is ‘deeper’ in the foam than the rest of the sheet).
  5. Place a small amount of printing ink on the glass plate, and roll the ink roller through it until you have an even coating.
  6. Apply the ink to your foam drawing, ensuring you cover the space evenly.
  7. Take a fresh piece of A4 paper, and place it carefully on top of your inked foam drawing. Taking care that the paper does not move, press it into the foam to allow the ink to transfer. You need to apply plenty of pressure at this stage. Use the palm of your hand, a wooden spoon, or a clean ink roller.
  8. Peel off the paper, and check out your print!
  9. Repeat steps 5-8 if you like he great thing about these prints is that you can create multiple copies, as the printing process itself doesn’t remove any detail.  You can even wash the foam with a damp sponge cloth if you want to use a different colour!

Here’s a video that I found online that I think gives a good overview of the process – there’s no sound however!


I hope this post helps, and you give printmaking a try with your class. Let me know if you do @irishguyteaching on Instagram!


Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is one of my favourite ‘Important People’ to cover in History, as he is such an inspirational character and the kids are always in awe of him!

Below are some of the resources and activities I use while teaching about ‘Madiba’ and his incredible life.

Video: This video from ‘Biography’ does a great job of introducing the children to Mandela and his life, and is kid-friendly!

Timeline Activity: This is my go-to history activity to get the kids engaged. Find 5/6 pictures of defining moments in Mandela’s life, and type up some text to go with them. Distribute the pictures and text in packs to groups, and have them match them up. This won’t take them long, so you could get them to summarise the information in a timeline or fact file activity.

Download the images and text I use, as well as some handy vocab words for a display, here

Poetry: There are a couple of famous poems surrounding Mandela that you can bring in here. They are ‘Our Deepest Fear’ (Marianne Williamson), which was read at his inauguration as President of South Africa, and ‘Invictus’ by William Ernest Hanley, which was said to have helped Mandela survive his 27-year spell in prison.

Collaborative Poster: This collaborative art activity from Jenny K is always a great hit with my class. Students are given 1/2 pages each, and have to either colour in or draw and colour in the piece of the picture they are given, depending on the version you choose. The different pieces come together to make a MASSIVE poster of Mandela!

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Kahoot Quiz: This is a great way of assessing how much the kids have learned, and they absolutely love Kahoot quizzes. If you haven’t come across Kahoot, check it out (it’s pretty simple), and the link for my Mandela quiz is available here.

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There you have it – some of the ideas and resources I’ve used when teaching about Mandela. There are, of course, hundreds more – you could have the kids write a letter to Mandela in prison; write a diary entry from his point of view; incorporate some drama into the main events of his life, create an animated video using a website like Biteable – the list is endless!

I hope this has given you some inspiration and helps you in planning your Mandela lessons. As always, if you have any questions or comments, get in touch @irishguyteaching!

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Persuasive Writing Ideas

I posted some persuasive writing pieces that the kids in my class typed up yesterday, and got loads of messages asking about lesson ideas and resources, so I said I’d put together this blog post to hopefully help somebody out.

The PDST has a really-useful document on genre writing, which gives a great seven-step approach to teaching any genre, which I recommend using. I’m going to squash those into four steps for this post.

  1. Familiarisation & Framework: Children exposed to writing in the given genre, and analyse a piece to discover features and structure.
  2. I Do: Teacher writes a piece and thinks-aloud.
  3. We Do: Teacher uses students’ ideas, opinions and edits to write another piece.
  4. You Do: Students plan, write, edit and present their own pieces.

Familiarisation & Framework

Give students a piece of persuasive writing, and analyse it. The main features you should be able to pull out are:

  • Clear Title (‘We Should Not Have to Wear a Uniform’, ‘Donald Trump is a Terrible President’ etc.)
  • Connectives (first, also, moreover, etc.)
  • Persuasive Language (it should be obvious that, clearly, there can be no denying, etc.)
  • Rhetorical Questions (‘Who wants to live in a world like that?’ ‘How many more times must this happen?’ etc.

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‘I Do’

Teacher Think-Aloud: Once we had pulled a list of features out from these pieces, I opened up a new document in Word on the board, and typed up a piece on homework in front of them, talking them through it as I went (you may need to have this prepared beforehand – I’m lucky enough to be a very fast typist!).

I then went back and edited the piece, talking aloud again about using more emotional language, stretching the sentences out, using rhetorical questions etc.)

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‘We Do’ 

Cut and Code: Take a piece of persuasive writing, and jumble up the sentences. Students work in groups to  cut sentences out, rearrange them, and then code the features previously mentioned using a key (highlight connectives in red, rhetorical questions in yellow, etc.)

Walking Debates: Call out a statement (e.g. everyone should own a dog), and have the kids choose a corner of the room (agree, disagree, not sure etc.). I find this can be quite noisy and unproductive, so you might want to try picking one table at a time, and probing them to explain their reasons why.

Correct the Homework: Children act as a teacher to ‘correct’ a piece of persuasive writing, making suggestions and edits for an imaginary student.

Shared Writing: Give the kids a new topic (e.g. Why Every Child ‘Should Have an iPad in School’), and have them brainstorm arguments to make. Work together to compose the piece, with the kids giving the ideas and arguments, but you writing and editing as you go along.

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‘You Do’

  1. Brainstorm: The main thing here is to have a lot of sample ideas that the kids can use to come up with their own pieces.
  2. First Drafts: Kids come up with an idea, assemble their ideas, and then start writing their first draft.
  3. Edit & Redraft: I corrected these first drafts, made suggestions, and gave them back to the kids. I quickly looked over their second drafts, and then, finally, the kids typed up their finished pieces and displayed them in the classroom. It took a long time to get them to this final step, but I was really proud of the pieces they came up with in the end!

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Integration/Other Ideas

Oral Language: This is the perfect opportunity to bring in some oral debates. Keep the groups small, don’t let them pick ridiculous topics, and give them Post-it notes instead of refill pads so they can’t write the whole thing out!

Drama – TV Commercials: To mix up the monotony of all that writing, you could do a drama activity where groups have to make a one-minute advertisment to persuade you to buy a new product. This could be integrated into SPHE/Drama very easily on placement (there’s a whole strand unit for ‘Media Education’. Here are some good examples to show!

  • Coca-Cola – ‘Brotherly Love’

‘Persuasive Prize!’ Buy a bar of chocolate or other prize, and encourage students to write you a piece persuading you to give it to them. The most creative/best written piece wins the prize!


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I hope this gives you plenty of ideas on how to approach persuasive writing in your own class. I will post up the sample pieces I used and more resources on Mash/TPT in the next week – I’m working hard on them!

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please get in touch on Instagram @irishguyteaching or at

Thanks for reading!