Teaching and Learning Processes in Dubai Schools

Introduction

Nowadays, the economic and political situation in the world influences the sphere of education considerably. In some countries, people have to decrease the quality of education because of the necessity to focus on the achievements in some other spheres or the inability to gain control over all educational policies. Still, there are the countries that start paying more attention to the questions of education and the quality of knowledge and experience people can get while being students.

The United Arab Emirates is one of the countries where people pay much attention to their knowledge and the opportunities they can get choosing their primary, secondary, or college education. Dubai, as the majority of cities in the UAE, has a powerful system of education with a number of public and private school and colleges. There are the schools which children are eager to visit and get the portion of education, communication, and practice required.

There are also the schools that students may dislike because of poor treatment, the inabilities of their teachers to meet their expectations, or educational leadership that is poorly managed. To understand what may frustrate students, Dubai has the School Inspection Bureau under the standards of which specially-trained supervisors check teachers’ performance. Bell and Stevenson (2006) admit that educational leadership cannot exist in a vacuum, and it is expected to understand a policy context in terms of culture, economy, politics, ideologies, etc. It means that supervisors have to check how well teachers can complete their functions and deliver the required portion of education.

A policy is a number of actions that are used in order to improve the quality of work of one person, a group of people, or a particular organization. Recent investigations and personal observations help to understand that the current institutional organizations are far from being idealistic in terms of cooperation between students, teachers, supervisors, and other stakeholders involved in an educational process. In many cases, the intentions to help students develop their skills and achieve the best results are neglected.

In this paper, the evaluation of teaching and learning processes in Dubai schools will be developed in order to identify the options of accessing the effectiveness of these processes and clarify if there are the steps that can be taken to improve the existing system. Educational supervision is a possible practice that has to be improved and change the current situation in some Dubai primary and secondary schools.

There are the cases when teachers’ whims prevail over the actual needs of students, and supervisor’s needs prevail over the needs and abilities of teachers. With the help of personal observations of supervising practices and school inspection, it is possible to get an idea of how students are challenged during their learning processes, how teachers are examined by supervisors, and what the role of supervisors actually is.

The main goal of this project is to identify the weaknesses of the evaluation of learning and teaching processes and introduce the practices to improve the Dubai schools. Interventions should help to deactivate the role of supervision, establish appropriate development and training programs, and introduce the standards of the School Inspection Bureau that serve the interests of the educational field.

Supervision is a crucial educational practice that influences the way of how students comprehend their tasks, learn new material, and develop their communicative and cooperative skills, and supervisors have to check how teachers complete their work and meet the needs of students neglecting their whims; therefore, the evaluation of the educational policy in Dubai should be used to comprehend the strong and weak points of the practice and clarify what actions and activities can be used to improve the quality of education and teacher-supervisor relations.

Stage One: Understanding of Educational Supervision

Supervision in education is a vital process that has to be based on the combination of the activities that deal with teaching itself and the improvement of the teaching process in a certain context. Supervisors, as well as guides, aim at identifying the educational standards and modifying or improving the current educational status (Jahanian, Iran & Ebrahimi 2013). As a rule, supervision is directed to control the work of teachers and the approaches chosen by teachers to introduce new material, ask students how they accept the material, develop communication with students, and share the results achieved.

Supervision is a kind of a high form of teaching that is based on the abilities to combine the standards with the achievements and investigate if it is possible to improve teaching and learning processes. Nowadays, in Dubai, as well as in the whole world, there are many teachers, who perform their work well and meet the needs of their students on the necessary level. There are also the teachers, who may be aware of certain rules and standards but fail to comprehend them properly.

There are also the teachers, who cannot help but using their personal whims and preferences at their workplaces. In fact, the ways of how teachers could use their skills and powers vary from school to school. Supervisors have to make sure that teachers use their powers in an appropriate way and complete their functions of educators on a high level.

However, if supervisors have to check the quality of work of teachers, who should take responsibility for the work of supervisors in order not to make their whims and prejudices spoil the evaluation of teaching and learning processes? Supervisors should follow their own policies that can help them improve the effectiveness of evaluation. As a rule, policies are created by the government, and the government has to check if people whom the policies are addressed to follow them precisely.

However, some writers put the effectiveness of the governmental work under a question. McConnell (2010) relies on the ideas developed by Dye in 2005 and focuses on the possibility that governments may do a little to check if their policies are beneficial and effective for society. He underlines that people know that “the ideal of complete success is rarely met” (McConnell 2010, p. 346). Therefore, teachers continue supervising their students and check the level of their knowledge, supervisors try to focus on the work of teachers and the success of learning and teaching process, and policies are created in order to make sure that supervisors complete their work on an appropriate level.

The effectiveness of learning and teaching is usually evaluated by three main authorities: the Ministry of Education, the Education Council, and the School Inspection Bureau. There are six main standards according to which the evaluation is performed. Supervisors have to focus on the quality of students’ achievements, analyze the quality of school leadership and management, consider the quality of personal and social development, check the curriculum, observe teaching processes, and underline the quality of care, support, and the level of protection that can be available to students. Before each inspection, school representatives are informed about the fact of being checked soon.

They are asked to organize self-evaluation of the standards to help each school identify its strengths and weaknesses using their own experience and abilities. It means that educational supervision aims not to frighten or find out the shortages of teaching but to help a school become better and more effective.

In order to comprehend the essence of educational supervision and identify the main challenges and shortages of the educational practices in order to introduce effective policies, it is necessary to visit a school, observe different levels of teachers’ performance, and compare them with the already existing standards and theories. Nowadays, the quality of education remains to be at the heart of knowledge-based society of Dubai and other regions of the UAE (Gulf News 2016).

At the beginning of the 2000s, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) was created to provide the Dubai schools and colleges with a number of educational standards and quality assurance. In 2007, the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau was introduced as a part of the KHDA with the inspectors, who visit Dubai schools, share their judgments about the quality of teaching, learning, and performance and provide information about the educational standards and the best methods on how to improve the current situations in schools and colleges (Government of Dubai n.d.).

The work of the Bureau is essential indeed. Still, personal experience and observations of the work performed at schools and colleges prove the fact that the quality of supervision is not as high as it is expected because a number of teachers and supervisors continue appreciating their own whims and needs and neglecting the standards that have been already established by the educational politicians.

The whims of supervisors may vary considerably: political issues, religious discussions, personal issues, gender identifications, financial aspects, etc. There are many teachers, who admit that their supervisors, who have to control their job, are spoiled by money and the orders of other people. Such supervisors cannot evaluate teachers’ performance on a high level and start underlining the mistakes or shortages that are not identified by the standards.

For example, a supervisor with a definite opinion about the role of women in the Arab society may be stricter to female teachers than to male teachers and underline each mistake or minor shortage in the work in order to make a person fired. The possible outcome of such whim may be the inability for a woman to find a good job or a chance to develop a prejudiced opinion at her new place of work. Some teachers complain of their inspectors being completely incompetent by thinking that they own the whole education system and take responsibility for educating people. Besides, there are many instructors, who prefer to make money on education and are ready to re-evaluate or distort the UAE educational standards.

The results of such situation may influence the quality of education and a teaching process. As soon as teachers comprehend that their activities and approaches may be criticized unfairly, they just stop completing their job on a required level believing that their supervisors could judge them even without a clear reason.

The relations between supervisors and teachers have been discussed in a number of articles and studies. Some researchers try to combine the quality of supervising with emotional exhaustion and personal accomplishment of teachers (Bataineh & Alsagheer 2012). Professional development and the evaluation of teachers remain to be the two important elements in teaching and learning process (Bustami 2014).

The results of the observation help to identify several important factors to which it is necessary to pay attention and elaborate them in accordance with the cultural, religious, economic, and even political factors. For example, it is possible to provide supervisors with more training and rehabilitation practices in terms of which they should comprehend the essence of the educational standards and learn how to use them while evaluating teachers’ performance.

Such approach should inspire teachers to improve their qualities and competencies in regards to the teachers they have to cooperate with. Besides, the presence of questionnaires at the end of each school year could improve the work of supervisors considerably. Teachers get a chance to share their opinions, the cases of unjust judgment, and the level of their satisfaction and motivation in teaching and learning processes.

Besides, educational supervision should follow certain standards that have to be the same in all schools and colleges. Therefore, it is suggested to change the area of inspection from time to time and observe if the results of supervising differ from school to school. Supervisors are expected not to have the same results of their inspection in all schools and colleges. In case it is observed that the same level of incompetence, teachers’ dissatisfaction, and mistakes occur, the reputation of such supervisor has to be put under a question. It may happen that some personal whims or standards play a crucial role in such kind of examination, and such supervisor has to be trained more. Supervisors should not be afraid to accept critiques and admit their possible shortages or mistakes in their work.

Stage Two: School Inspection Bureau and the Evaluation of Teaching and Learning

The School Inspection Bureau is the main source of information that helps to clarify how supervision is working in Dubai schools and according to which criteria the evaluation of teaching and learning process take place. School administration has to be checked the same way particular teachers and their methods are undergone analysis and evaluations. In this project, the attention of the School Inspection Bureau to a school principal and teacher is used to comprehend what aspects of work must be taken into consideration. The duties of these educational workers, as well as their impact on students, are different. Therefore, it is interesting and educative to observe how their work should be supervised and what outcomes are expected.

The evaluation of the work a school principal occurs first. The school inspection may focus on different aspects of the principal’s work, and, this time, the attention to the style and approaches of work is paid. First of all, it is necessary to identify the standards and the results of the current school progress of each student over time and the level of progress in class times. Besides, it is necessary to focus on such aspects as the possible application of gained knowledge in their daily lives, interaction and cooperation between teachers, students, and a principal, raising the learning skills of students, and the abilities to use innovations, problem-solving skills, research, and critical thinking to achieve their main educational goals.

Such information should be gathered to create a certain picture about the school, the way of how administration work, the methods and approaches chosen by teachers to provide their students with the knowledge, and the attitudes of students to their education and the necessity to visit a school day by day without lateness. In the current situation, students and teachers are used as the main sources to comprehend if a school principal succeeds in completing their work.

One of the best signs of a good work of a principal is their recognition not only by teachers but by students. Students should be aware of who their principal is, their name, and appearance. They should also possess a strong feeling of personal responsibility. In this case, the majority of students are ready to share their opinions about the principals. Their answers are usually positive. Still, it is possible to observe a kind of uncertainty or even fear. Their answers remain to be short and definite.

They are not ready to explain their learning processes in details. Teachers remain to be restrained in their answers. It seems like students and teachers try to control each word in order not make it possible to use their answers as the arguments against them or their principal. Such attention to the details underlines the fact that supervisors are able to observe the things ordinary people could be hardly observed. On the one hand, it could be identified as a whim of a supervisor to be careful with the details. On the other hand, such attention should be appreciated because it could help to identify the problems or challenges of the learning and teaching processes.

The evaluation of the work of a math teacher is another possibility to comprehend if policies and standards are followed during the supervisor’s inspection. The main task in such kind of supervision is to identify how a teacher cooperates with students, introduces the material, and asks questions about the information offered. Besides, supervisors have to focus on the relations that teachers are able to develop with their students.

In other words, students have to be eager to visit the classes of a teacher, share positive opinions, avoid lateness, and demonstrate the desire to know more about a teacher and their teaching methods. Supervisors should aim at finding out the strong and weak aspects of the existing educational system and the necessity of training teachers in regards to a particular school environment.

Stage Three: Reconciliation of Supervision and School Inspection Policy Evaluation

The development of a specific policy in a school institution is not an easy task. Even if enough information is gathered, and certain conclusions are made, the policy developers have to take into consideration such points as the possibility to assess the effectiveness of supervising and the standards according to which supervisors have to work. In the policy under evaluation, the cases of injustice toward the competent personnel and lack of justice in evaluation require the development of the policy that could help to underline the main steps of supervising and the hints that can be offered to supervisors and the bureau workers in order to create appropriate conditions for evaluating teaching and learning processes in Dubai.

The representatives of the bureau and other organizations that create and make sure schools follow the standards underline that their aim is not to nitpick to teachers and underline the worst aspects of teaching and learning process. The work of the bureau is to help a school to identify the problems that could arise and find the best solutions that could help to improve the effectiveness of the work of a school.

On the one hand, it seems to be an easy thing for a person not involved in a school directly to identify the weak points in the work. On the other hand, such person is not aware of the peculiarities of the chosen school, the characteristics of its people, and the goals each student has. Therefore, it is important for any educational inspector and supervisor to comprehend that such things as personal traits, sudden decisions, and a plenty of internal and external factors may predetermine the quality of teaching and learning process.

In order to succeed in evaluating schools, supervisors have to be free from their whims, prejudices, and personal attitudes to organizations and people. Supervisors’ goal is not to befriend with students, teachers, or school principals. Supervisors have to focus on a working process and identify the cons that can influence the quality of education in a short period of time.

Taking into consideration personal experience and observation of the work of the School Inspection Bureau and the identification of its possible challenges, the following hints may be offered to improve the existing policy and help schools become better and more effective in comparison to the current situation in terms of teaching and learning processes.

  • The importance of training and rehabilitation of supervisors so that they can choose appropriate methods of inspection and analysis of teachers’ performance free from whims and prejudices.
    • The evaluation of the supervisors’ work shows that despite the attention to education is paid, and high standards are set for every Dubai school, there are many supervisors, who cannot demonstrate appropriate and competent evaluation of teachers’ work. Therefore, the bureau or any other organization that may take responsibility for educational supervision has to be sure that every supervisor is properly trained and knows how to investigate a school as a huge mechanism that has to work only in case all its parts work properly.
  • The development of the standards that can measure teachers’ performance and force supervisors to be fair.
    • In the current policy, there are many standards according to which teachers’ work is evaluated. Still, there are no points about the way of how supervisors’ work should be created. Therefore, it is suggested to add several points concerning the rights and wrongs of supervisors and provide teachers with information about what to expect from their supervisors.
  • The implementation of an annual questionnaire that focuses on the identification of students’ and teachers’ satisfaction, justice of evaluation, identification of obstacles that occur during a teaching process and an evaluating process, and the opinions about a drive for the development of educational and learning processes.
    • There are many ways of how the Bureau can evaluate the work of supervisors and help them identify the weaknesses of schools and learning and teaching processes. Supervisors should be ready to provide teachers and school principals with help, and teachers have to participate in such policy implementation processes. They have to share their opinions and, as the direct participants of the system, they have to discuss the effectiveness of the supervisors’ work.
  • The obligatory change of schools that helps to compare the level of supervisors in different school environments.
    • Supervisors have not to inspect the same school all the time. It is possible for a person to create an image of the school and comprehend the motives and abilities of its teachers and students. As a result, a kind of prejudiced opinion could be created. The standards are created for all schools in the same ways, and supervisors should not rely on their past experience with schools but take into consideration the ability of the school to meet the standards, the level of students’ satisfaction with the learning processes they are involved in, and the quality of teachers’ work in regards to the expectations set.
  • The control of supervisors and the creation of the same conditions for all teachers so that supervisors cannot make teachers set a specific performance or introduce a unique method of teaching.
    • It is very important to control the results of the work introduced by a supervisor. It is even recommended to create a job such as a supervisor of a supervisor, who should investigate and control the performance of a supervisor. Teachers deserve the right to be supervised under the same conditions. Supervisors should not overuse or misuse their powers, and a certain form of control is required.
  • The importance for teachers to pass training and practices under which they learn how to accept criticism from supervisors, comprehend what kind of improvements they can offer, and explain the peculiarities of the culture of criticism to their colleagues.
    • However, supervisors are not the only figures that to be controlled and whose actions have to be improved. There are many teachers, who do not know what to do with the results of their supervisors’ work. Personal observations prove that many teachers cannot accept criticism in a right way. Though the majority of supervisors start their evaluations with the description of the positive aspects of the work, teachers continue focusing on the weaknesses of their activities identified later. Teachers do not understand the worth of such evaluations. Therefore, it is suggested to provide teachers with some training courses or seminars during which they can be educated on how to cooperate with supervisors and how to benefit with the information offered by supervisors.

The above-mentioned suggestions have to be implemented within a certain period of time. Supervisors should be provided with enough time to comprehend what kind of improvements in their work are expected. Therefore, supervisors should understand that their work may be in need of some improvements just in the way they offer some ideas to the teachers they supervise. The following timing frames and obligations have to be identified:

  1. One month should be spent to gather and analyze the opinions of teachers, students, and school principals about the quality of work of their supervisors;
  2. One week is required to provide supervisors with the results of their work and the identification of the weaknesses;
  3. One week is offered to supervisors to make their own suggestions on how they can improve the assessing of the effectiveness in evaluating teaching and learning processes in Dubai schools;
  4. One week is given to create and implement the improvements;
  5. One month is available to implement the ideas and observe the results.

In general, three months should be enough to analyze and improve the work of supervisors, who have to control the work of teachers, who have to provide students with knowledge.

Teachers and supervisors are ordinary people with a number of duties being fulfilled. It may happen that people are in need of additional help, training, and explanations. The peculiar feature of education in Dubai is the focus on the success of the whole system but not its different members. In addition, various circumstances and new requirements have to be taken into consideration when the suggestions are offered. It could happen that supervisors or teachers are not ready to be evaluated because of some personal reasons. They cannot be neglected because education is, first of all, the attention to people, their abilities, and potential.

Conclusion

In general, the system of education in Dubai is powerful indeed. People know what to expect and try to share their opinions about how their teaching and learning can be improved. Today, one of the main challenges is the fact that teachers and supervisors forget about their direct duties to provide students with education, support them, and follow the identified standards and ethical norms. Supervisors neglect the importance of training and examining their personal skills and approaches to know how to analyze the work of teachers.

Therefore, the Dubai educational system has to be improved. The challenges and ineffective approaches used by supervisors to check teachers’ performance have to be identified and changed. Training and appropriate time frames should be offered. Dubai has rather successful and effective prospects in terms of education, and if there are some ways to improve the current supervising practices, they have to be used to improve assessing the effectiveness in evaluating teaching and learning in Dubai schools.

Reflection/Discussion

The main task for this scholar paper is to choose an education policy and describe the ways that can be used to improve it. Many education policies are used to control teaching and learning processes. Still, the idea to understand if teaching and learning processes are evaluated properly is powerful and interesting among the rest ideas because of the possibility to deal with a kind of double evaluation. The main factors considered before choosing the topic are a personal desire to work on it, its importance for the sphere of education, and the possibility to be implemented in some Dubai schools. The topic meets the requirements of the task, is introduced in the required context, and motivates researchers to work further in the chosen direction.

The problem in the topic choice was connected with personal uncertainties to identify the correct methods and introduce the necessary context. On the one hand, it is easy to understand what matters in the current educational system, find a theoretical explanation of the issues, and unite the material. On the other hand, it is hard to prove that Dubai schools are in need of new policies’ development and that supervisors’ activities are already spoiled and have to be improved.

To meet the goals of the project, it is necessary to gather enough material about the existing policies and read the documents that could be found in the databases of the Ministry of Education or at the University library. Still, the main source of information is students, teachers, and school principals, who cooperate with supervisors, undergo their criticism, and improve their practices accordingly. It is obligatory to communicate with people to cover the topic. The main challenge is to understand how to begin cooperating with people and asking them for their opinions and other information that is required for the project. It is necessary to find the explanations of how to prove the importance of the topic in a clear way on a high educational level and demonstrate why the offered approaches are the best practices.

Reference List

Bataineh, O & Alsagheer, A 2012, ‘An investigation of social support and burnout among special education teachers in the United Arab Emirates’, Journal of Special Education, vol. 27, no. 2., pp. 5-13.

Bell, L & Stevenson, H 2006, Education policy: process, themes and impact. Routledge, New York.

Bustami, GA 2014, ‘Improving the teacher’s evaluation methods and tools in Abu Dhabi Schools: Case Study‘, Athens Journal of Social Sciences, 261-273. Web.

Dubai’s school education standards in fine fettle’, 2016, Gulf News. Web.

Government of Dubai n.d., Dubai school inspection bureau (DSIB): school inspections in Dubai. Web.

Jahanian, R, Iran, K & Ebrahimi, M 2013, ‘Principles for educational supervision and guidance’, Journal of Sociological Research, vol. 4, no. 2, pp.380-390.

McConnell, A 2010, ‘Policy success, policy failure and grey areas in-between’, Journal of Public Policy, vol. 30, no. 30, pp. 345-362.