Usually I don't have to work on Saturdays but today there was a conference that all of the teachers from all of the schools in the Higher Colleges of Technology had to attend. Even though most people had a fairly negative attitude about it, I didn't mind it that much. After talking with a few people, I started to understand why. Usually this conference is held on a work day at the beginning of the year before classes start. This year because the year started with Ramadan, they couldn't really have a conference and provide refreshments. Also, this was the first year that the conference was held on at Dubai Men's College instead of a nice hotel. Even so, I didn't think it was that big of a deal.
After arriving and meeting old friends from Fukuoka that arrived in the UAE the same time as me, all of the new employees were herded into lines and grouped according to school. We were asked to wait for about 30 minutes until the Sheik, who I believe is the big boss of HCT, arrived so we could each shake his hand. I was pretty honored.
Then we sat through a series of lectures. While some were pretty good they were hit and miss. With the theme of "The Way Forward," they talked about how it was our responsibility to use technology to teach students. While I agreed with the lectures and thought that they were well meaning, they didn't take into account that I'm teaching students who need to be reminded to bring a calculator to math class. At some point in between two of the speakers we were treated to an impressive laser light show with a pumping techno soundtrack that while fun to watch, didn't seem to fit. Still, it was pretty cool. After the speakers, we were given a good buffet-style lunch in crowded caffeterias.
Like I said, some of the speakers were pretty good, but I was dissappointed for a couple of reasons. It was touted as a chance to network with your fellow teachers from other schools, but there wasn't really any time or planning given to that. The speakers would have been much better suited to motivate the students rather than motivating teachers to motivate the students. Something that I did like is that they introduced some former students that had really made something of themselves. Usually our graduates get easy government jobs but these men and women had done well for themselves in the much more competitive private sector.
One interesting note was that even though the conference fell behind schedule, they still attempted to keep things on track. When we were dismissed for coffee breaks, they would give us a time to be back which was before the actual time we were being dismissed for example we would leave for a coffee break at 12:25 and they would tell us to be back by 12:15. At first I thought it was the difference between the pronunciation of "fifteen" and "fifty" but it happened again later.
Now I can get ready to go to bed and start another week of work tomorrow.