I am in my second year of teaching in Kuwait and I plan on doing one more year. Teaching can be the most wonderful and challenging experiences, but it can also be the complete opposite. My experience in teaching is somewhere in between. Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of great things about teaching in Kuwait. Here is a sample of a typical work day and some pros and cons.
Usually, I’m getting up to get ready for work. My work attire is business casual. I do find that I have to be more conservative, but it is the same as any workplace.
I try to leave by this time. The bus leaves at 6:15. The bus ride takes about 10 minutes and it takes us to and from school. When the weather permits I walk to school and sometimes I walk home. It is a nice 25-minute walk, especially in the morning to clear my thoughts and set a good tone for the day.
Before school starts students get to play on the playground outside. By this time they are in class preparing for the day. We have a 25 minute time period before the first class. I give my students morning work and go through the morning routine. Then, we have announcements which consist of recitation of the Koran, the Kuwait national athem, and a message from either the principal or assistant principal. We just started this new thing at my school where we have video announcements
My schedule is broken up into periods. Each period is 50 minutes long and we have 7 periods in a day. We have a 15 minute snack time in the morning and a 45-minute lunch/recess time. On a typical day, I have two Language Arts periods back to back. Sometimes I have two Math periods back to back some days I only have one math period. Every day they have Language Arts, Math, Social Studies/Science, and Arabic. They have Islam three times a week, P.E two times a week, and art, library, and computer once a week. We do not have music. I have one day out the week where I have four planning periods. I love it.
The Arabic and Islam teachers come to my class to teach the students. They do not have their own class. We do not have a computer teacher, but we receive lots of support and resources. Teachers have to stay with the students for library as well because there is not an official librarian. P.E is outside even when it’s hot and there is a separate classroom for art.
There is a set-aside time for snack and lunch/recess. The teacher who teaches the class before snack or lunch is the teacher on duty for those times. So if students have Arabic right before snack, the Arabic teacher stays with them during that time. For recess, we set up a schedule and the teachers are on duty two times out the week.
7th period is the last period of the day and is also when we have dismissal. Dismissal starts at 2:15 and we must take our kids to the auditorium where they get picked up. Therefore, even though it is still school time, we can’t get much work done because we have to get ready for dismissal. Dismissal is the worst time of the day because the students know they are going home. When it’s time parents and nanny’s bust through the doors and they will knock you down if you are not paying attention. Think of it like Black Friday when people try to find the deals on the best bargains and will fight. Except there are not any bargains and not fights, but you could get trampled on in the crowd.
This is the time I get to go home. I’m usually home around 3. Once a week we have a staff meeting and I have to stay until 3:45. It may not seem like much, but after a long day who wants to go to a staff meeting. On Sunday’s I send out a Newsletter to the parents about what we will do for the week.
This is what a typical day looks like as a teacher at my school in Kuwait. Now I will share the pros and cons.
I can have up to four planning periods in a day depending on the schedule. It gives me time to grade papers and prepare assignments.
I like that there is a time set aside for snack and recess. At my previous school, there wasn’t a time set aside for snack or recess. They barely wanted the kids to have a recess time and wanted us to do learning-centered recess. I think recess is a good time for the students to run around, stretch, and get some fresh air. It is a time for them to learn social skills and learn about themselves. I like recess and I like the fact that my school gives them this time.
Parent involvement is pretty high. If I wanted to do an activity that requires resources the school doesn’t provide, parents are willing to help.
All teachers from Kindergarten to Second grade have TA’s. Back in the states, only pre-K had a TA and sometimes Kindergarten, but never 1st and second. Having a TA really helps balance the workload.
Even though I like my planning periods, the downside is sometimes I don’t have a long enough block of time to complete assignments. So even though I really enjoy my planning periods, I miss my old schedule.
Most of the boys I teach are very privileged and come from households with nannies and drivers. Some do not care about school at all. Me and my TA have to give them a lot of encouragement throughout the day to complete assignments. We also have to teach them a lot of basic skills like using good manners and picking up after themselves.
Even though the parents are involved the grade is more important than what their child actually learning. They even compare their child’s grades from the previous year to the current year. I’m not exactly sure the logic behind comparing two different years where they are learning different material, but that is the way it is.
So this is not an extensive list of my pros and cons however, these are the main things. Just like my list pretty much evens out that is how I feel about teaching in Kuwait overall. I feel comfortable here and I feel like it is the perfect opportunity for me to improve my skills. What about you? Do the pros and cons of your job even out? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Do you love your job or hate it? Is it somewhere between?