BBS Teaching & Learning Center

Building teacher capacity to improve student achievement
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Teachers' Stories

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


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To Fit In

Posted on June 5, 2018 at 3:15 AM


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 March 29, 2018 at 7:35 AM



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



 

Adaptation for Growth

Posted on March 29, 2018 at 7:30 AM



My name is Dean Savage and currently I am a middle school science teacher. I am a Caribbean girl, from the beautiful island of wood and water, Jamaica. I have been an educator for about 16 years. My first 7 years was in public school after which I taught at a private IB school for an additional 7 years before taking on the adventurous journey of Kuwait middle school. I have taught middle school science and high school biology up to grade 13. My interests are quiet reflective walks, being on the beach, reading and watching my favorite series like the walking dead on Netflix. 


I have taught natural selection, adaptation and survival of the fittest to biology students for years; and now recognized more explicitly the application of this as an educator in the Kuwait context. Often we hold to the old ideas, strategies or experiences that worked before, but in a new context they become obsolete and we have to adapt. Adaptation as educator is often not comfortable, it requires change, moving out of your comfort zone and trying new approaches. The outcome however is the beauty of growth for me as a teacher as well growth for my students.


Having said that, I will share one new approach that I have undertaken in the process of adaptation and finding new strategies to provide the best experiences and growth for my students. I started goal setting with my students in January of this year. The objectives were to:

• Stimulate intrinsic motivation in the learning process

• For students to take ownership of their learning

• And to encourage student reflection


My task was to introduce the idea of goal setting, how to go about setting realistic goals and providing the tools for students to set goals. I adopted a form for students to complete with 3 goals related to academics, conduct and tribes. Each student was also given a folder to place their forms. Students also had access to their folders. Students were given the time and reflective space to set their goals. We had check-ins for students to reflect on where they are and make changes to their goals (I try to do bi-monthly check in, also right after the grading period leading into the new semester).


This process is on-going and we will continue for the rest of the year. The initial impacts were beyond what I expected. Some students were checking in of their own initiatives and discussing their goals with me. I saw an overall improvement in attitude to work, student engagement and improvement in academic performance. The greatest success is with one student who was failing miserably, she was always disruptive and sent to the office at least 3 times per week. After our reflective check in, we spoke and decide on the goals. Today, she is passing, there is a tremendous improvement in her class conduct and she has not been sent to the office since. If I can influence the life of one student in a positive way then growth has happen and the strategy was worth the effort!


I end with this quote I shared with my students “No one is perfect – that’s why pencils have erasers.” – Wolfgang Riebe. In the journey of adaptation and growth it is ok not to be perfect, to make mistakes and fail. Just get up, brush yourself off and keep going. The brilliance of the growth as an educator will be worth it!



 

The Journey

Posted on February 20, 2018 at 10:35 PM


Tell us a bit about your background


Hello my name is Salma Khan Al Beloushi. I was born in Sheffield England and was raised in Lodi, California, a tiny town I call home. I am married to a local Kuwaiti, which is the sole reason how I ended up in this beautiful country, I also call home. I speak three languages, English being my native tongue. I am a mother of five amazing kids and I have one adorable grandson. I came to Kuwait in 1994, that’s when the journey began. Living in Kuwait has given me plenty of opportunities to travel and experience a lot of rich cultural events. I love spending time with my family and hosting family gatherings. When I have spare time I enjoy travelling and reading a good book.


In the year 2000 I was offered a temporary position, as an assistant to one of the teachers on maternity leave. I have been working for BBS ever since. Seventeen years in the Pre-school and I love every minute of it. I am currently a Nursery English teacher, on the Jabriya Campus. I have always enjoyed being around young children. Being a Nursery Teacher has been one of the best journeys of my life. There is never a dull moment when around three year olds, you learn something new every day. Watching a child grow and mature throughout the school year is truly an amazing process. Being a part of a child’s early year development is a rewarding experience.


Explain one new approach to teaching and learning that you have undertaken (or are currently undertaking) this academic year.  


We have recently become a Reggio Inspired learning environment and it has opened new doors and experiences for the students and for me as well. I have been learning new teaching strategies and am finding it quite interesting. Listening to the children engage in conversations and ask questions that amaze me has been an experience and a journey that I am finding satisfying. Those little minds are like mini scientists with big questions. I have a new light table in the classroom that has sparked a lot of questions like why? and what? are we doing. The best conversation is when a child explained to me that maybe the light table gets its light from solar power, his insight put a smile on my face. It’s moments like these that make my job the best job in the world. My journey in the world of Reggio has just begun. Iam looking forward to many more new experiences and adventures in the years to come.


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


Today was fun

Today was good

Tomorrow is another one—Dr.Seuss




The Story of an Egyptian Girl

Posted on February 11, 2018 at 3:15 AM


My name is Huda Labib, from Cairo, Egypt. I have a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Geography, in addition to a diploma in the same specialization.


In my third year of undergraduate, I was the ideal student in the Geography department of Ain Shams University. In my final year, I was the ideal student in 11 departments in the Faculty of Arts. I got first place in the Geography department in my first three years of university. I started teaching in 1993.


My hobbies are reading, traveling to explore countries, as well as cooking.


One of the most impressive moments of my life as a teacher was when the seventh graders gave me a bouquet of flowers on the Mother’s Day.  They told me they feel that I am like a mother to them and asked for a picture together.It was a nice gesture.


After my students learned how to use (Quizizz) and after I had created many tests using the program, my students now like to do quizzes every SS class. The test no longer intimidates or scares them. It became one of their favorites because they review the content easily.


I believe very strongly in the proverb that says:

- Be patient. Things will change for the better.


Working from the Heart

Posted on February 4, 2018 at 2:20 AM


My name is Wafa Al Taibi, and I’m from Gaza-Palestine.


I started working at BBS 22 years ago. I’m Grade 1 Arabic teacher and I enjoy working with this age as I believe they are the most courageous age.  I love children, and I enjoy teaching them. I consider them my own children from the very first day of school. I take care of them both academically and socially.


I always feel proud when one of my students who are in high school stopped by to say hi. They got surprised that I can still remember their names!


My goal is to prepare my first graders to the next grade level and witness their progress.


 


The Power of Communities

Posted on February 1, 2018 at 12:00 AM


My name is Kevin Fullbrook and I am the Middle School Principal. I feel incredibly lucky to be given the opportunity to work with some amazing staff at BBS who work very hard each and every day to get the best out of their students.


I am originally from Brisbane, Australia, where I taught in a range of schools from a small, remote P-12 school of 300 students, to a large metropolitan high school of over 2500 students. My main teaching disciplines are Math and PE, and I have served in roles such as Math HOD, Deputy Principal and Principal. Last year I was the Head of Secondary for a bilingual school in Beijing before joining BBS for the start of this academic year.


One thing that has become very clear to me over my years in education is the collective power of a group of people committed to achieving an outcome. Typically, educators are an inspiring, dedicated, and passionate group of people who are in the profession because they love working with children and helping them achieve their best. This is certainly why I got into the profession in the first place, and why I love my job.


What really excites me as we navigate our way through some changes in the Middle School is that as a group of educators we take collective responsibility for the success of all students in the Middle School, not just the ones we teach. That we have a responsibility to share, collaborate, and support all of our colleagues, not just the ones in our department or grade level. When each and every staff member takes collective responsibility for student success right across the school, great things can happen.


I am excited by the work that lays ahead of us as we look to diversify our curriculum offerings for students with a focus on developing 21st century skills, student leadership, and development of the whole child. With subjects like Robotics, Coding, 3D Printing, STEAM, Entrepreneurship, Leadership Academy, and more, our students will get a head start on their journey to becoming the next generation of leaders in Kuwait.


I am delighted to be a part of the journey! 



Hard Work Pays Off

Posted on December 7, 2017 at 3:35 AM

 



Tell us a bit about your background:


My name is Hussein Zakaria, from Egypt. I hold a Bachelor of Islamic Law from AL-Azhar University. I have teaching experience that extends to nineteen years. My hobbies are the different types of sports such as football, volleyball, boxing, handball and table tennis.



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


When I was a student at the university, I volunteered to tutor middle school students in public schools and Islamic Studies during the summer vacation.

I also do not forget that at the time I signed the contract with Al Bayan Bilingual School, my first daughter was born just 6 hours before. I mentioned that in the contract, which raised the attention of the administrator.

I am happy with my work and I love my job very much. I show my students care and have fun with them, and I consider every session I spend with them a special moment.



What teaching and learning goal are you most excited to achieve by the end of this school year?


I am seeking to master the use and integration of technology in the educational process through practicing Google Classroom & Quizizz in order to integrate them into curriculum.



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

- Reward as much as hardship.

- Hard work pays off.

- With will there is no impossible.



Devoted to Education

Posted on December 3, 2017 at 7:10 AM


By Suha Abu Dawoud


If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.


My family has always been devoted to education. Both of my parents are teachers, and my father was a UNESCO member, a published author for the Kuwait Ministry of Education and school department head. They always set high standards for me and my educational attainments. I earned a Bachelor of Computer Science, a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) Degree, specializing in Managing Human Resources, and a second master degree in Multidisciplinary (educational Leadership) from the Buffalo State University of New York.


My professional experience includes teaching in Kindergarten, Elementary and Middle school fields between Nursery and Grade 8.


I believe that it is essential that a student cherishes his education and recognizes the inherent reward that comes from hard work and knowledge acquisition. Teachers are not the sole providers of education within a school; they do relay important information and help students develop the tools to learn from their experiences and their interactions, to think critically, problem- solve and infer, and to positively affect the society of which they are part.


A school and its educators must guide their students to be active in their own learning.


School staff and administration are role models who also instruct through their actions; they model morality and respect and lead their students to develop their own personal character and ethical codes. Educators must exhibit enthusiasm and school spirit in their actions, in their involvement, and on their faces. Positive and active communication between the students and the school is important to ensure that learning continues and is valued in both primary environments for our youth. Educators must continue to progress actively through professional development, and all schools must continue to evolve and set high standards for itself and its citizens.


A solid educational institution not only feeds the minds of its students’ population, but also recognizes the inseparability of the social, emotional, and intellectual components of these minds. Educational facilities must provide opportunities for learning beyond the classroom through extracurricular, creative, socializing and friendship-building activities. The school and classroom must be a safe, healthy, and efficient learning and growing environment where different learning styles and abilities are stimulated; every student has the right to learn and no student should be left behind.





"We rise by lifting other..."

Posted on November 15, 2017 at 4:35 AM



Hi everyone! I’m Noha Abdulbaki. I am Syrian. My life outside of teaching is what keeps me really busy! I have been married for 6 years . And I am a mother of two girls who are truly the light of my life .


I am currently working on my 9th year teaching, which absolutely blows my mind! I graduated from Al-Baath University . I‘ve got a Bachelor degree in English Literature and Education. I started my education journey at Canadian Bilingual School working as Teacher Assistant for KG2. I moved then the next academic year to Dasman Bilingual School working as KG1 and KG2 Homeroom teacher. I’ve been working for 7 years at DBS. And now I am luckily working at BBS as Pre-Nursery Homeroom teacher.


I am really enjoying working with little ones. That’s one of my interests to work and educate the most charming creatures in the world our small ones . The most wonderful moments that I like to spend with my students is the circle time .Every single morning I like to watch them sitting happily in the circle and ready to sing our morning songs and doing the actions with me . When I see the smile on their faces ,I absolutely feel so glad ,powerful and interesting that they are all engaged , listening and learning as well . Also, I like to set up and create effective fine motor skills center for my kids .


There is no doubt that every educator is unique .However, every one of us needs to get more improved and developed to cover all teaching and learning skills . And one of my goals which I would like to achieve it is to be Reggio Emilia Educator. So to achieve my goal , I will read articles of Reggio Emilia Approach and implement them in my class by the end of this school year .


My favorite inspiring word is “We rise by lifting others…”




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