Perceptions of the Change of the School Teacher’s Role in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) An Investigation of Teachers’ Views from Eight Schools in Dubai and Sharjah

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
Teachers used to be perceived in the Arab world almost as divine; their elite position in societies was not challenged by any other profession. In parallel with their original job as knowledge contributors, Teachers used to play various active roles in civil movements demanding change, justice and freedom. With the major socio-economic changes that took place over the last decade, teachers’ roles have come into question. Teachers have to prove themselves through complicated procedures based on outcomes and goals. Teachers’ identities are now shaped and turned into a subject of continual inspection and evaluation. Accordingly, the teacher’s role has started to lose its value and its capacity to influence young people. The purpose of this study is to investigate the perceptions of teachers with regards to the changes that have affected their roles and to examine if these changes have impacted their applicability to pursue the honourable mission that was assigned for them. The study devises three groups of participants comprising 200 teachers, 262 students and ten experienced educators from eight private and public schools in Dubai and Sharjah. Multiple instruments were utilized in a mixed methods research to collect adequate data. The teachers’ perceptions were collected using a questionnaire, while students’ perceptions were gathered also by a quantitative questionnaire, and finally, more insight ideas were gauged qualitatively through semi-structured interviews. The major results of the study revealed that teachers indicated that they see a big change in their roles compared to the traditional role of teachers. The results also showed that teacher satisfaction is obtained by effectively changing student behaviours and attitudes in a positive way, which represents the highest motivation factor for teachers. The results also indicated that students do not perceive teaching as a future career in spite of their deep respect for their teachers.
teacher identity, teacher role, new education reforms, Arab world, United Arab Emirates (UAE)