We chat to Abigail McPherson, Elementary Physical Education Head of Department and Teacher at GEMS Dubai American Academy, who will help onboard the new teachers joining GEMS Education this year, a position she was in only a year ago.
What made you apply to work for GEMS Education in Dubai?
I came to Dubai for vacation a few years ago and my Spanish teacher from high school was a teacher in the area. She encouraged me to investigate an opportunity abroad. I never knew it was a possibility, so when I returned home, I started the application process.
How did you feel before you arrived?
I was a bit nervous but more excited than anything. I knew I was coming to a great campus with awesome resources and opportunities, and I couldn’t wait to see what it would be like to live and teach abroad.
Describe your first week. What did you do?
Wow, the first week was a haze of touring my surroundings and getting acquainted with the school and my new co-workers. I did however document my journey on Instagram @AbbyTeachingAfar. I recorded a video every day counting down my 30 days to Dubai as well as my first 30 days in Dubai.
Describe your experience of GEMS Awareness Day.
GEMS Awareness Day was a great way to learn more about the company and things about the UAE. I would have never understood the vast amount of GEMS schools that are in the area had I not seen all the teachers and admin in one room. It was mind blowing.
How did you find settling in?
I adjusted pretty well. All systems were a go after GEMS Awareness Day, learning about the school schedule and curriculum as well as different data management systems in preparation for the students’ arrival.
Looking back, if there’s anything you could tell yourself in that first week, what would it be?
I would make more connections with people. I would have loved to have had just a little more time to interact with other teachers from different campuses or maybe interact with teachers in my same subject area.
What advice would you give new teachers who have just joined GEMS?
Be open minded, be available and have fun. This is an awesome opportunity and you have the power to make this experience your best. Soak up all the knowledge and resources provided to you and do not be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Also document your journey by journaling, taking pictures or videos – it’s a great way to reflect on your growth and determine how you would like to set goals for the future.
Abigail’s top three highlights of her first year in the UAE:
l. Being featured in the Khaleej Times for GEMS Awareness Day
2. My U14 basketball team beating our rival school in a match and placing second in all our tournaments
3. Picking up a camera and learning more about photography and videography