As you may remember from my introduction post, I am a full time teacher at an international school in Morocco. I attend USF’s online Masters in Reading Education part time, and otherwise live, work, and enjoy life in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. My Bachelor’s degree is from USF as well (can’t stay away – Go Bulls!), so all my teacher training took place in the United States, all of my teaching experience has taken place in Morocco, and through this experience I have also observed and interacted with education in England. Wow! Classrooms around the world for sure.
It is important to note that my international school in Morocco uses American curriculum for Science, Math, and ELA. We have an adapted Moroccan curriculum for Social Studies, and students also attend French language and Arabic language classes daily. While the curriculum is the similar, the teaching practices are quite different, as our international staff takes their experiences from around the world and brings their knowledge and practices to our community. In England, the schools are of course using the British curriculum, resources, and materials.
One of the first things I noticed at the schools in England was the structure of the day and schedule. At my school in Morocco, teachers have ample planning time throughout the day as students attend three elective courses: specials (art/IT/PE), Arabic, and French daily. This time is used by teachers to plan and prepare materials. Teachers in the UK have a morning break and one hour lunch, and then receive a half day planning time once a week when another teacher comes into their classroom to teach. This contrasts greatly to public Moroccan schools, where students attend one of two morning sessions and one of two afternoon sessions, and then go home in between for a long lunch. What I appreciated about the UK system is the possibility for a different teacher to enter the classroom and successfully deliver lessons. In fact, job sharing was common at the school I visited – where one staff member taught two, three or four days a week, and another teacher taught the remaining days. The fluidity of instruction continued. I was curious as to how this might affect classroom community, but in all of the classrooms I observed, I saw strong connections between teachers and students.
For privacy purposes, I was not able to take pictures of full classrooms in Cambridge, but walking into a class felt like an explosion of learning! Student work, posters, anchor charts, and more covered bulletin boards, walls, hung from ceilings, and so on. Many classrooms I visited had clothes lines set up in the room where student work and learning hung from. Classroom décor is more subdued in my Moroccan context, and is limited more to bulletin boards, white boards, and some wall space. What felt overwhelming in the UK was actually representative of learning that had occurred throughout the year. Students were able to use and access materials in the classroom on multiple occasions. It was interesting to see how differently classrooms were set up, and I will certainly be bringing some of this back to my learning space in Morocco!
I hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about the differences in classrooms and schools between England and Morocco. Please keep in mind that my experience is with a limited number of schools in both countries, I am happy to share my observations, but they certainly cannot stand as a generalization for education and learning throughout the entire country.