Life in Kuwait: First day at work
Yesterday was my first day of work… and what a day it was!
I was told to report to Kindergarten and so I did. The classroom looked something like this:
Each kindergarten teacher has a teacher’s assistant (TA) which is basically a person who helps with facilitating the lesson, disciplining the kids and is basically a second teacher… She isn’t really an assistant in my opinion- she is more like a second teacher. So when I met the lady who was assigned to my kindergarten class I was shocked… I have never had someone in the class with me before. Even when I did my teaching practical’s, the teachers left me alone in the class with the kids to teach my lessons. It was something to adjust to… one of many things…
I can’t speak for all Kuwaiti kids but the second year kindergarten class assigned to me were a dream class… they were focused on their tasks, orderly when moving around, followed instructions with ease and of course, had the funniest faces!
They understood everything I said even though they were only 4-5 years old and I spoke in English only. My TA informed me that each Kuwaiti family has at least one Filipino nanny who speaks to the kids in English; so they grow up speaking Arabic with their parents and English with their nanny. Which accounts for their bilingual nature.
Kindergarten starts at 07:30 and finishes at 12:45. Teachers are free to leave at 2pm. The kids spend all day with their form teacher with the exception of the times that they have I.T., P.E., music and Arabic classes. For these classes the specialist teachers take over and the kindergarten teachers have a free period.
As soon as the learners’ parents started showing up to escort them home from school, the vice-principal of kindergarten came to the classroom and asked to meet with me in her office. When I arrived at her office, the educational director of the school was already sitting there and my palms started to feel damp. I wondered what had happened? Was my dress not long enough? Was my accent too strange? Irrational thoughts but… I was confused.
They sat me down and told me that based on my qualifications and experience they were transferring me to high school where I would be teaching grade 8 and 9 English. I just stared at them… after all this panic and drama not to mention planning with my TA for forthcoming weeks and now…. I’m out!
This was my first taste of what I call MEM- Middle Eastern Madness Management. And one never forgets their first.
After meeting with the high school principal and head of English department at 14:00, I received my schedule, materials and I was told to start preparing my assessment tasks for the term.
And that was how a high school teacher with a special interest in LITERATURE went off to Kuwait to teach KINDERGARTEN and ended up back in an English department reading a prescribed text by Rabindranath Tagore and preparing grammar worksheets.