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BBS Teaching & Learning Center

Building teacher capacity to improve student achievement

تنمية قدرات المعلمين لتحسين أداء الطلاب 

Teachers' Stories

Teachers' Stories

The purpose of this blog is to share teachers' stories and experiences. 


view:  full / summary

A Little Positivity Goes a Long Way

Posted on 25 March, 2021 at 6:15





1) Tell us a bit about your background. (Ex: where you’re from, how long you’ve taught and where, some of your hobbies/interests, etc.)

My name is Hana, I have been teaching for 15 years. I started teaching as soon as I graduated from university. I’m married and have two daughters. As for my hobbies, I enjoy going on walks and following the latest interior designs trends.

2) Explain one new approach to teaching and learning that you have undertaken (or are currently undertaking) this academic year. (What did you/students do, for how long, and what was the (intended outcome/impact?)

a) Students really enjoy the concept of traveling virtually to countries as they study them. Through watching real footage and documentation introducing that country, It feels as though they’re on a real trip and they look forward to their next destination.

During the online learning, I ask them to bring their favorite food or drink. Before the video is played, I tell them that the plane is about to take-off and that they must be prepared, and I show the image of the plane during take-off. Students watch the video and “sight see” as they enjoy their favorite meal.

b) Some of the successful strategies included:

Asking open-ended questions at the beginning of the lesson to grab students’ attention and provoke them to think and guess the topic of the lesson. Listening to their answers, I find that they always come up with innovative ideas, as the questions encourage them to think critically and creatively.

Question example: If you were asked to build a historical palace, which country would you build it in, what would you name it, and why?

c) I was really impressed with one of the suggested ideas, where students would use a small whiteboard during zoom classes to share their answers. Using this strategy, allowed me to achieve various goals including: a) improved participation, b) writing skills and c) movement.

3) Tell us one moment from your teaching experience that was particularly powerful, interesting, or funny.

I ran into a student that I taught previously and asked him what he’s studying at university and he answered: “You used to tell me I should be a pilot and that’s actually what I ended up pursuing!"

4) What teaching and learning goal are you most excited to achieve by the end of this school year? Please explain.

My goal for this year and every year is to develop my teaching methods and adopt new ones. Social Studies is a cultural subject and there are many fun and creative methods to deliver the information. This allows students to stay engaged in the classroom and look forward to different activities.

 

 

5) Do you have any inspirational words and/or specific sites, organizations, strategies, or links that you’d like to share with other teachers?

 

 

https://madrasa.org/مدرسة;

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/



 

 

Journey To The Unknown

Posted on 11 February, 2021 at 2:30


Tell us a bit about your background. (Ex: where you’re from, how long you’ve taught and where, some of your hobbies/interests, etc.)

 

My name is Darrian Bryan, and I teach English Language Arts to grades 9 and 11 in the high school. This is my second year at BBS, but my fourteenth year as a teacher. I’m from the tiny, but (arguably) the most influential island in the Caribbean - Jamaica. I attended teacher’s college and from there went on to pursue a degree in Literatures in English with a minor in Psychology and Film Studies. A word that I think appropriately describes me is ambivert, not quite an extrovert, and yet not quite an introvert. I comfortably reside at the intersection of these two personality types. Therefore it shouldn’t be surprising that I am an actor. At home, in Jamaica, I appeared in several national advertisements as well as theater productions. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of being an international teacher and exploring new territories, and it was that sense of adventure that lured me across the seas to Kuwait.

 

 

What inspires you as a teacher?

 

Both my parents were educators, and many of the students they taught went on to become meaningful contributors to society. The respect these students had for my parents is something I noted. This demonstrated to me that a teacher can make an impact on a young mind, and that is what I strive to do. I want to be able to contribute to my students' lives, particularly young men. I want them to be able to operate successfully in society.

 

One way I’m able to impact my students is to build a sense of community and belonging in my classroom. My students need to feel safe and respected. I believe their voices should be heard, “how else can I know what they need?” Addressing the “why” of learning is important if I am to gain the participation and engage my students.

 

In what ways has the pandemic impacted you and your teaching?

This has been a challenging time in many ways, but I believe I was built for this! The introvert in me was quite happy to be at home. I appreciated slowing down and taking the time to be introspective. We don’t always have the time to stop. The pandemic has pushed us to begin embracing the 21st century classroom, to consider what works best for student performance and implement it. As a result of this I have come to appreciate getting feedback from students through surveys. This has yielded many benefits for myself and my students: they have the opportunity for thinking time, and the data helps me to know where to go next. While this has been a time of tremendous suffering I think we will emerge from it better than we entered!

 

 


Confessions of a Hopeful English Teacher

Posted on 17 January, 2021 at 9:05



 

Hi! My name is Fatema Albader. I am currently a middle school English and writing teacher at Al Bayan Bilingual School. Ever since I can remember, I have loved reading books and writing. Words have always intrigued and delighted me. My earliest memory of my fondness for words was when I was about 9 years old and my English teacher uttered her first idiomatic expression to us in class. “Hold your horses! I’ll be right there!” she said. Hold my horses? What horses?

 

What I love most about language is that language is about people. Language is everything about humanity, influencing the way we think, speak, write, and even act. People, society and interpersonal relationships are all about language; depending on the way words are used, they can make us beam with joy or completely crush us. Words hold so much power.

 

In my university years, I loved learning about the biological evolution of language, the way children acquire words and speech, language and gender constructions, language in advertising, poetry, education, news media, television, text messaging, music, everything!

 

I’m from Kuwait, and — according to my parents — I learned how to draw before I could even walk. I like to think I’ve carried my passion for illustrating, drawing, and painting ever since. I also found out pretty early in life that I love traveling and exploring new places as I cross them off my destination bucket list. I happen to be very competitive and love to play games with my friends in my free time. My favorite things to do are the little things I do every day: making coffee with my awesome espresso machine, watering my plants (I am a proud mother of one avocado tree, one lemon tree, and one chili pepper tree), and cozying up with a good book in bed.

 

A funny moment from my teaching experience that was both particularly powerful and hilarious was when I was asked to substitute for a science teacher during her maternity leave for three months. My first reaction was absolute dread. I didn’t know my spleen from my kidney... how was I supposed to teach the digestive system to middle schoolers? Luckily, I had the support of our principal, an ex-AP biology teacher of more than 10 years, and the support of 75 hyped-up adolescent brains. Frankly — and I have yet to admit this — I asked students to teach me almost every day. To the kids’ astonishment (and mine), I pulled through being both an English and science teacher till the end of the year. I’m genuinely thankful for the experience, because at 26, I should at least know how food travels inside my body. This experience was the perfect reminder that teaching is more than just standing up in front of a class and delivering a lesson. It’s about being resourceful, asking questions, and discovering things you never thought you would.

 

Another moment from my teaching experience that was both terrifying and interesting (and I think I can safely say all of the staff at BBS will share my assessment on this) was the shift to online-learning. Before I knew it, I was in my first Zoom meeting with my students, as one of them showed off a painting she worked on over the weekend, a modern take on Hakusai’s “Great Wave off Kanagawa.” Another student showed the class her latest DIY project, a bleach-dyed tracksuit, and it was actually super cool! Mohammed reported live from the passenger seat of his driver’s car (“on the way to the chalet miss!”;) Oh, and Ali finally found the unmute button on his Zoom app.

 

As difficult as this pandemic-driven shift in mindset was, I learned to see it as a chance for us to prioritize every child in their entirety — in their art, their crafts, their hobbies, and their boredom — and the same applies for teachers. Yes, this is a difficult time for all of us, but on the bright side, we finally have the time to read, play, create, and rest

 






 


 

It's Okay to be Different and Make Mistakes

Posted on 1 December, 2020 at 23:15

 

About me: Hello! My name is Nicole Manavala, but you can call me Nick or Nikki. I was born and brought up in Bombay, India and I am the only child to my parents. I am December baby and a true Capricorn. I also have two cats named Sasha Cole and Snowball. I did my primary years in India before coming to Kuwait in 2001, and continued my further studies in an Indian school till 2010. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature through Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). My hobbies include dancing, reading books, listening to music and rest depends on my mood. I’m not much of a socializer, so I keep my circle extremely small and limited. Before coming to BBS, I worked at two Indian playschools for about a year and 3 months. This is my 8th year at BBS. I started as an assistant in 2013 and made my way up to be a teacher in the year 2019. Titles are just for formality sake. I don’t believe in them, because once a teacher always a teacher. ☺

My experience: An experience in BBS that changed my year completely was when I was appointed as an acting teacher during the year 2018 since my colleague quit. I decided to grab hold of the opportunity and take advantage of it. It was a changing moment in my career and honestly, I did not quiet expect to take complete control over a class for the whole year. I wasn’t that prepared too (I mean no one technically is). I remember that year was a roller-coaster ride filled with ups and downs, and a lot of obstacles on the way. When I look back at that year, I can only imagine myself doing things that I planned but somewhat did not execute in a certain manner. I watched my colleagues do better than me. It made me really upset and bothered. I pushed myself too hard and over worked myself staying back at school longer than the usual hours. The thing that kept me going and motivated was my little audience, my students. They lit up the classroom everyday with bright happy faces, engaging themselves with activities set up for them. They made the best memories and eventually the classroom became my happy place. It was almost like a calm and a huge storm of stressing out, searching for ideas, asking for guidance from my colleagues or the TLC (very thankful to Ms. Marybeth). It was a relief after the months started to pass by, those littles eyes looking at me while reading a book, doing a mini lesson on the carpet or while giving instructions. I could see the changes that I was making to strive and achieve the best I could do and fit in both as a teacher and an educator. By the end of that year, I did paint a new picture. I was appointed as an official teacher. I saw a different person in me and mostly, learned from my mistakes (a lot of them). Today I take those mistakes, re shape them and carve new ventures for every academic year. I have become more confident, comfortable and relaxed. In the end, we all make it through rough waters. I am very thankful for that experience.

Inspiration: No other inspiration better than yourself. You can create and destroy it at the same time. Learn how to mold your own growth! Also, remember to love yourself always and do not change it for the world. ☺

Strategies I use in classroom: Yoga. Simple and child friendly. Helps to calm students especially before a mini lesson or an activity. Children engage a lot in yoga and they can be silly at times. Breathing exercises like the Balloon, Pretzel, and Star. Sometimes I come up with my own breathing exercises just to be more creative like Princess breathing, Super hero breathing, etc. This helps us calm down as well since our age group can really keep us on our toes.

Play calming music during center time for a more cozy and relaxing ambiance. In that way, even a teacher can ease out his/her stress.

 

 


 




 

Together We Grow!

Posted on 3 November, 2020 at 23:45

I am May Al Andary coming from the mountains of Lebanon. I have a BA in Early Childhood Education and recently obtained a Master's degree in Educational Leadership from Suny Buffalo University of New York. This is my sixth year teaching at BBS and I have been teaching kindergarten for the past sixteen years in Kuwait.

My passion is spending time in nature and enjoying the beauty of forests and rivers. Growing and nurturing plants is a great inspiration for nurturing little children. I believe that teaching is like gardening by providing the environment for each child to learn and grow. I also concur with John Hattie that the teacher has the greatest impact on the student’s approach towards learning.

This year is a challenging experience for both teachers and children, as we are exploring and discovering a new learning curve. My aim this year is to ensure that my students are independently participating in all the activities by communicating with the parents on how they can support and guide their child at home without interfering with their learning process. It is crucial at this age level to collect data on students' progression to design and plan the next learning goals, and we can only achieve it by creating feasible formative assessments and effective communication channels with the parents.

I would like to share with you this video of Sir Ken Robinson in one of his Talk’s discussed about how to change education and said that the basics and fundamentals to have a theater are the “Performer” and the “Audience”, and what makes a school are the “Teacher” and the “ Learner”.

https://youtu.be/BEsZOnyQzxQ" target="_blank">" How To Change Education"  - Sir Ken Robinson

I believe my role as a teacher is to respect each child’s individuality and light the spark of curiosity in each one of them to be successful in their lives.




 


Students' Trust

Posted on 20 February, 2019 at 4:05

My name is Doaa Mohamed Moursy. I am an Egyptian woman who was born, and stayed the majority of her life in Kuwait. I am married and a mother of a boy and a girl. I am British educated. I had my school years in two schools, the British school of Kuwait in Kuwait and had my IGCSCE from the English girls’ college in Alexandria, Egypt. I had my bachelor degree from faculty of Fine Arts in Alexandria, Egypt. At the beginning of my career journey, I wanted to be an interior design. However, I did not find my personality in this field. My father, who is the most adorable person in my life, advised me to try teaching and that he thinks I will find myself in teaching. My first teaching years was at the Egyptian American School in Alexandria. I worked there for two years. I was teaching high school students. The difference in age between the students and myself was about five years only. It was a joy teaching there. Two years later, I was engaged in Kuwait and worked at the English School for girls. I continued my studies and received license to be an IGCSCE assessor from Cambridge University. I continued working at the English school for Girls for 5 years. I was blessed those years with an amazing Australian Principle, Ms. Margaret. She taught me how to be a professional art teacher. Then I moved to Al Bayan Bilingual School to start a new chapter in my life. Teaching at Al Bayan was like a dream. A very well-known school, where you will gain an excellent experience. The first day I entered this school one of the teachers whispered into my ears, have the MIDDLE SCHOOL students respect you and love you and you will succeed. From this moment, I worked on this piece of advice. My goal every year is to have an enjoyable school year with my students. In our school, our students work a lot. I expect Art for them a relaxing productive time. We enjoy working while listening to music, sometimes working while chatting about different life issues. Teaching teenagers is not easy, but it would be if you have the trust of your students. One of the best projects my students are having this year is to recycle tires into useful and usable things with an artistic touch.


Learning Through Play

Posted on 24 January, 2019 at 3:00


My name is Sura and I teach KG2 English. I am from the UK and have been teaching in Kuwait for nine years. This is my eighth year at Al Bayan. I moved to Kuwait in 2006 when I got married and I have four wonderful children. I studied Accounting at The American University of Kuwait and went on to complete my master's degree in Educational Leadership at The College of New Jersey. I taught Nursery for the five years at BBS and transferred to KG2 in 2016. I definitely have a soft spot for preschool and could not imagine working in other departments.  Some of my hobbies include travelling, exercising, and shopping.

This year my team and I have been focusing on learning through play for our KG2 students. We have been planning creative invitations and provocations inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach. The intention is for students to guide and scaffold their own learning through different activities. Our goal as teachers is to ensure that we are still covering all the standards in our curriculum while meeting our students' different learning needs.

I would like to share the gonoodle website. This website consists of different characters and different exercises that students can follow to get energized. The chosen character grows with each completed 'brain break'.  The benefits of gonoodle are improved behavior and attention, higher academic performance, and stronger classroom cohesion.



Technology is the Wave of the Present and Future

Posted on 12 December, 2018 at 23:25


My name is Ashraf Al-Rabah and I am from Irbid, Jordan. I graduated from Jordan University of Science and Technology (J.U.S.T) in 1996 with specialization in computer engineering. Both my parents were History and English teachers and this is why I like teaching. Reading history books, traveling and visiting ancient cities are my passion. This is my 20th year in education technology.


I have taught technology in a national university for 12 years, 4 years in an international school (British and American) in Amman and this is my 4th year here at BBS and in Kuwait. Having been an IT teacher and IT HOD, and now technology integrated specialist, I'm passionately interested in training and development for teachers.


Building relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally is a goal that I would like to achieve.


What really excites me is considering each day as a new adventure, meeting new challenges, solving technology problems, teaching in different strategies, collaborating with multi-culture teachers and the joy of success as a result of hard working.





To Fit In

Posted on 5 June, 2018 at 3:15


Born in Cairo-Egypt (where I felt I never fit in) and raised in Jeddah-Saudi Arabia (where I felt I didn’t fit in either) I was able to experience (struggle) living in the Gulf since I was kid. Educated (not really) in a Greek community school which during its peak years numbered at around 60 students from K-12. Most of the years I had one or two classmates and I spent grade 5 as the only student in that grade level. I wasn’t exposed to a world class education and I didn’t have the chance to study English up until when I entered university (I failed my language entrance mock exam) but I was taught sincere compassion and gratitude. I learned how to value the connection I had with the people that taught me and appreciate their contributions some of which I keep in contact till this day. For the next 18 years I would spend 8 months in Saudi Arabia and the remaining 4 back in Greece (I’ve been collecting airline miles ever since).


Once I was done with school I moved to Cairo (my parents made me cause at the time my brother was a senior in Finance) again to complete my Bachelors in Biology with a minor in Chemistry and Master of Arts in International and Comparative Education from the American University in Cairo. My research interest revolve around human creativity and the capacity we have for generating new ideas; concepts that I try to incorporate in my classes and expose my students to (most of the times I fail, but at least I try).


My first teaching job (I had a cubicle) was at an IB school and I’ve been teaching biology and science related classes for nearly 8 years now (I don’t have cubicle) 5 of which were in the International Baccalaureate (IB) (its actually 10 but a school never gave me recognition for volunteer work) and my teaching style revolves around my students feeling comfortable and confident inside the classroom. I want my students to leave genuine feedback and notes of gratitude and appreciation of their learning in a wall I always have readily available in my classroom called the “Doodle Wall.” (the pic at the beginning of the article? It’s been in my classroom for 3 years at BBS) A lot of students will walk in to check their writings on the wall even after they are done with grade 8. I never expect my students to come out of my lesson having mastered science, but I always try to give them a piece of my character (jesting 101 would be an elective I’d give).


I’ve been in Kuwait for the last 3 years (not sure how many more) and I’ve been trying to complete my PhD proposal studies (got accepted once, rejected twice) in some of the world’s top universities researching creativity and innovation.


When I am not teaching (burning out and complaining about grading) I like to read, cook and exercise (a great statement for beauty pageant contestants). I currently reside in Athens, Greece (where I finally feel that I fit in) where I spend all my summers hiking, swimming and island hoping.


It’s been great teaching at BBS (insert sound of crickets) but the time for me has come to move on to new places to grow primarily as a person and secondarily as a teacher.


Much love,


Chris Scoufaridis



Flipping the Switch on Traditional Education

Posted on 29 March, 2018 at 7:35



My name is Demetria Dixon and I teach World History I, World Cultures and 20th Century History in the High School. This is my second year at Al-Bayan, but my fourth year in Kuwait. I am originally from Dallas, Texas; however, I now live in Sydney, Australia with my husband and our infant son who keeps us quite busy. I have always had the desire to be an educator gaining my bachelor’s degree in Social Science Education and my master’s degree in Higher Education Administration. My eleven years within education thus far vary. I have worked at level one schools as well as level four and private schools as a classroom educator. I have also spent time in higher education in such roles as Registrar and Director of Compliance.



As of this year, I have really tried to incorporate the flipped classroom model. While it is a work in progress, requiring additional prep time, I am confident that the end result will be beneficial for our evolving learners. I have been and remain cognizant that I am training students for jobs that have yet to be created. In knowing this, it is important to maximize classroom time in an effort to not only teach content, but emphasize on skill building. I usually give reading assignments or powerpoints ahead of class. In class, through discussion we make meaning of that content and lastly, we apply it.


The flipped classroom is a blended learning strategy with the aim to improve student engagement and outcomes. It is not a new concept or a drive to promote technology; pedagogy is still very important. It can however be equated with pedagogies such as active learning, peer instruction, problem-based learning or any blended learning strategy that requires students to prepare learning before they meet and engage with their peers and myself. This model engages students and splits the accountability making the learning experience a partnership rather than a 20-40 minute lecture styled classroom.



Many of our students lead busy lives outside of school. We also have students that benefit from additional classroom time to gain help where needed. I consider it a blessing to teach such global learners. Why not take their experiences and knowledge while encompassing content to get real conversations going. Through this method, I get to know them better, we interact well and it pushes me as an educator to consistently develop.



Outside of continued networking with past and present colleagues, I frequent such websites as Edutopia, Edudemic and The University of Queensland who all offer free and reputable information regarding this model, it’s progression and researched results.


“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today”. – Malcolm X



 


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