My name is Alexis White and I have been living and working in Kuwait for the past 5 years. Before moving to Kuwait, I taught high school Humanities in Seoul, South Korea, as well as 9-12th grade Social Studies in the United States. When I first moved to Kuwait I took a break from teaching high school to teach grade 5 and that was quite the experience!
As an elementary teacher I was now tasked with teaching the WHOLE student. I don’t mean the fact that I was teaching Math, Science, Social Studies, AND Language Arts! I was also tasked with teaching life skills such as: remembering to wash hands before or after eating, learning not to cry just because you didn’t win a game, tying shoes properly, and understanding the difference between joking around and bullying. I was responsible for making sure my students worked on their problem solving skills, friendship building skills, mediation skills, cooperation skills, time management skills, social and communication skills.
It was also during this time that I truly discovered just how far appreciation goes in building student confidence and comfort levels within a classroom. In my elementary class, appreciation was shown in the personalized applauses we gave each other after a job well done. Appreciation was shown in the back pats we gave each other after failed attempts. Appreciation was shown in the certificates we gave each other once a month such as, “Most Supportive Citizen”, “Happiest Morning Person” or “Most Likely to Convince the Amir to Add More Holidays”. The more appreciation I showed my students and they showed each other, the more they felt all warm and gooey inside, the more confident they became in themselves and trusted each other, the more my classroom felt like family and the smoother the classroom functioned.
Now while I enjoyed teaching elementary students, as they came with lots of hugs, snots, tears, sweets, laughter and love, after 3 years I realized I missed teaching teenagers. Elementary students require A LOT of patience as they are relatively blank states that you have to teach from the ground up. High schoolers however come with built skills that can be molded & developed further. And so I missed working with high schoolers because they have their own opinions which I could challenge. This would drive them to think critically about their own ideas, behavior as well as other and what they can do about it.
So 3 years ago, when I saw BBS had an opening for a Psychology, I thought it was the perfect opportunity and time to come back to teaching high school. Not only that, I would be teaching psychology, which is literally the study of behavior and how people think. I started off with talking about my elementary teaching experience because I have applied what I did there to my high school students. I have maintained the idea even in high school I can still teach the WHOLE student. It just looks a bit different. Now I am tasked with helping students understand the importance of getting to class on time, wearing proper uniform, working with people who aren’t their best friends, how far being respectful can get them, and social awareness.
Also appreciation still plays a huge role in my classroom. My students still get certificates for a job well done. They even get medals to wear around their neck that lets the school know that are “Psychologists and Can Be Trusted”. They get their picture placed on the bulletin board if they are an expert in a certain unit and if they put effort into one of the many coloring assignments they have, they get to display their work. They get high fives or “daps” for a good effort. They get appreciated over and over again which in turn makes my classes run smoothly and that’s what we teacher’s hope for.