What is it like to live and teach in Amman, Jordan?
In August 2022, I was invited to work with the International Community School, in Amman, Jordan. The aim was to help the school kickstart its teaching and learning strategy …
What I was in Jordan for?
Before my arrival, I worked with the leadership team to develop their teaching and learning policy. This led to a physical event (back to school) with all teachers and support staff across the organisation – almost 250 staff.
Over the 5 days I was in Amman, I spent some time researching the challenges of teachers working in the country – similar to what I have learned from visiting teachers in 15 other countries – and shared this research with the staff.
On the first day in school (video), I met with all teaching staff, including assistant teachers and learning support assistants. It was a fascinating day, unpicking teacher workload in Jordan, introducing a new teaching and learning policy for consultation and aligning this with Barak Rosenshine’s research principles: 17 principles of effective instruction.
On day two (video), I worked with the school leadership and the teaching and learning team to unpick how learning happens, drawing insights from my new research/book, Guide to Memory. Ask any teacher to ‘doodle’ how learning happens and you open up a fascinating discussion.
In the latter part of the day, we look more carefully at lesson observation to reduce observational bias, introducing some feedback and coaching methods to improve one-to-one conversations.
In corridor conversations in and amongst the delicious food, I met one teacher who has been living and working there for 24 years. It’s also worth noting that in Amman, there is a small number of schools working in an international context. Still, the International Community School in Amman, is the only British school.
The staff made me feel very welcome and the school leadership team and how they hosted me was first class!
What did I learn from Jordanian teachers?
As part of my training reparations overseas, I draw on OECD and TALIS data to understand the context of where I am working. I was surprised to learn that Amman is over 1,000 meters above sea level and that the city is much larger than I had anticipated – over 4 million people.
In ‘The motivations, attrition and job satisfaction of Jordans teachers’ (January 2021) – a report draws upon the data from 5,722 teachers in a national teacher survey (2018) – including refugee contexts.
The report also uses information from TALIS (teaching and learning international survey), published by OECD. Here are some of the things I learned about (government) teachers working in Jordan.
- There are 10 million people living in Jordan
- 6 in 10 of the teaching workforce in Jordan are female
- Jordanian teachers are an average of 8 years younger than OECD counterparts
- Teachers have also taught for an average of 7 fewer years
- Many teachers spend most of their time dealing with low level behaviour
- 66% say there are no incentives to participate in CPD
- Outside of leadership, appraisal feedback reaches only 51%
- Working hours are reported to be 29 hours per week.
It was fantastic to work alongside Jordanian teachers, and to meet British teachers thriving in the Middle East – Jordan appears to be a super place for teachers to work and live.