Thursday, November 06, 2003

Yesterday was the end of the first quarter at school. We entered our grades. Our school, which does have a computer network, still puts books in the staff room where teachers have to manually enter the grades. The advantage to this antiquated system is that I can take a peek at the grades all the other teachers have given each student.

When I penciled in my grades, I admit I was one of the last (but still on time), I got to see all the grades. I am hard marker. My students have to work to get A's and I'm not too worried about giving F's to students who are not able or willing to do the work. It wasn't any particular students that interested me, but what the other teachers are doing. It was very interesting. In grade 6, the grades that teachers who are in their first year at the school gave are significantly lower than those of the teachers who have been at the school for a long time. It looks like it takes at least a year (perhaps two in my case - my marks still aren't that high) for teachers who come here to figure it out.

In Kuwait we have something called "wasta". Well, I don't have it, but Kuwaitis do. Wasta is a magical problem solving agent that is directly related to how much money you have and how close you are to the important families. Wasta lets Kuwaitis walk past the line and be served. It gets them out of having to pay speeding tickets, or overdue electricity bills. And it helps students. Students who don't do well result in parents who are used to getting their way come in to meet the teacher.

This year, my scores are not the lowest. I am still in the low end - my scores are close to the new teachers. Maybe it means I am learning slowly. I hope that means I can look forward to fewer parents arriving to tell me what and how to teach.