The Big Unknown
As the date of my big move to Taif, Saudi Arabia draws near, I can’t help but look back at the last few months of preparations, both professional and personal, and wonder if I’m ready for this! Uprooting your entire life for a two year span requires a lot of planning.
I worry about every little detail. Who will feed the dog? Who will water the plants? You will cut the grass and shovel the driveway? Then I remember I have no pets or plants and I live in an apartment! If only those were my only concerns.
The college has been incredibly helpful with all the paperwork; insurance, visas, flights, schedules, etc. The superintendent of my building, my brother and a friend have all volunteered to check up on my apartment and make certain all is well.
That part of the move seems to be under control. Now there’s only that little matter of curriculum!
Luckily for both the college and I, my good friend and colleague, Beverly Davies, has been on this working night and day. Bev is one of the best curriculum and mapping experts in the province of Ontario and has taught a lot. She has been doing this for Niagara College Canada for more than 6 years. I have been working closely with her for the last 3 years. Her knowledge and memory are borderline mystical. Even after those three years together, I know that I will never be as good at this as she is. Once Bev is on the job you can be assured that it will get done. The amount of time she spends for research, writing and revision always astounds me. Whether from home or our office, there are always new and revised documents popping up in our Dropbox!
Our task is made that much more challenging due to the very different requirements and expectations between here in Ontario and there in Saudi Arabia. Our Taif curriculum is outcome based and our teaching plans and evaluations are clearly mapped. Evaluate what you teach and teach what you evaluate.
Our Niagara College Taif Campus is one of 18 new Colleges of Excellence starting up in September 2014. There were 10 others that began last fall. The Saudi government is investing a lot of time, money and resources in this great program.
The big unknown we face at NC Taif is the academic level of our incoming students. I have spoken with a few of the College of Excellence who began operations last year and have received mixed information. Bev and I attended group meetings with some Saudi students here at Niagara College Canada and they also indicated the academic levels fluctuated greatly.
So…Bev has developed curricula that will be very adaptable. Once we get to see the level our students are at, we will ‘fine tune’ everything and proceed with the correct teaching plan. We will also be giving assessment tests in English and Math to quickly evaluate those levels and have prepared remedial exercises for any students that may need a bit more assistance.
We are fully confident this is the best approach…kinda!