UAE teachers reveal why they would never consider another profession

As World Teachers' Day is celebrated across the country, these educators share what inspires them to go to school every day


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Wed 4 Oct 2023, 6:14 PM

Last updated: Fri 6 Oct 2023, 9:47 AM

Some veteran educators in the UAE reiterate that they would never trade their profession for anything else in this world.

This was the predominant sentiment of a lot of teachers as they shared their views with Khaleej Times on the occasion of the World Teacher’s Day which is observed on October 5 every year.

This year's theme for World Teachers' Day is “The Teachers We Need for the Education We Want: The Global Imperative to Reverse the Teacher Shortage”.

Most enriching period

South African expat Romien Benson, who has been a teacher for the past 32 years, said, “I have never looked back on my life and said, I should have done something else. It's so heartwarming to see how our students grow. It's so hard to see the students I had in Grade 6 in 2014 already graduated. When they come back to thank you, and you get that little certificate from them to say how they appreciate you, it is so wonderful. So, I'm not looking back."

Inspired by family members, she said she knew early what her inner calling was and what profession she was set to pursue. “I've wanted to be a teacher since Grade 1. I didn’t know what kind of teacher, but my sister was a teacher and I loved going to school with her back home. By high school, I wanted to become a music or a math teacher,” says the seasoned educator, who has not only worked in the UAE but also taught in Malawi before returning to the Gulf again.

Romien Benson
Romien Benson

Benson said that while her profession has been a journey that took her to different countries, her experience at GEMS International School (GIS) – Al Khail in Dubai was the best time of growth in her life. Over the course of her career, she achieved significant milestones, even playing a key role in establishing the math department at the middle school.

Teacher not always right

Benson notes the shift in the approach to education in recent years, moving from a traditional teacher-centred model to a more student-centred approach these days.

“Over the years, a big change that’s happened is, earlier things were teacher-centred, even when I started teaching. Teachers [would] be lecturing the students, irrespective of the curriculum but this has become very student-centred and inquiry-based now."

“Also, students are going to tell you that ‘I disagree’. They are argumentative in a good way. When I started teaching, I believed the students should not tell me that I was wrong. A teacher is always right. But I feel it it’s a much more collaborative relationship between teachers and students now,” said the Math and English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher.

Diminishing work-life balance

Having started his career in 1991, Wayne Howsen is someone who became a headteacher at the age of 28.

With over twenty-five years’ experience as a teacher he is in his twentieth year of Headship – initially in the UK and more recently in the UAE.

Wayne Howsen
Wayne Howsen

Shedding light on a simpler teaching routine, Howsen also reminisces about a time when teaching lacked structured planning and curriculum.

“When I was first a teacher, there was no planning and no curriculum. You decided what you were going to do on your way to school. I'm not saying that was a good idea. But it meant a work-life balance was very easy because you didn't really have continuity. You just gave children things to do. Whereas now I think it's much more about giving children things to learn,” said the Founding Principal of the Aquila School, Dubai.

‘You taught my grandmother’

“The most rewarding thing is when you meet your students, years later, and they say, I remember you. I remember you encouraged me to develop a love of singing or love reading.”

“I had an embarrassing situation a few years back when somebody said to me, I know you… you are Mr Howsen and you taught my grandmother, and that made me feel very old,” he quipped.

Respecting teaching fraternity

With over four decades of experience in the education sector, Michael Guzder highlighted the challenges that today’s teachers face, including making parents happy.

Guzder, who is the senior vice president of Gems Education, looking after seven of the mid-market Indian schools with about 39,000 students, said, “Keeping parents happy is one of the biggest challenges because all parents have different expectations of the school. So, meeting parent expectations is a test.”

Michael Guzder
Michael Guzder

He also emphasised the importance of respecting teachers and valuing their experience which ultimately acts in the best interest of students.

“Teachers come with experience - try to benefit from that experience. If you think you know it all, somewhere you’ll stumble. Respect your teachers and learn from them. I don’t think any teacher who is worth his/her salt will do anything detrimental to a child's mental or emotional health. What we do is always in the interest of the student. When pupils and parents realise this, that’s when I think teachers [will] be better respected.”


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