“Make a Different.”

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The typos on the American School of Kuwait website (www.ask.edu.kw) seem endless sometimes. Today we found another:

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A proofreader would be a worthwhile expense at this point. We wonder how long this one has been there. In the end, this is another sign to prospective employees  that ASK may not be the place they want to work, and to families that this may not be the place they want to send their children.

Middle School Parents Have A Petition

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In our regular Google searches, we found that middle school families have started a Change.org Petition (click here), because they want parents to be allowed to attend the Middle School Graduation.

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Don’t get between a momma bear and her cubs. #walla

 

Let’s get something that may be controversial out of the way, first: There is no such thing as graduation from middle school. You graduate at the end of high school, and again after receiving a degree from a University. The culmination of a diploma or a degree is a graduation ceremony, and going from Grade 8 to Grade 9 does not meet the requirements.

That said, we find it a bit strange that there is a function that parents are not allowed to attend. Firstly, they are paying the bill. Secondly, it is their child. Finally, ASK may want to invest in its community a bit more, and inviting parents to attend such functions is a good way to do it.

We imagine that the problem is that there is no good venue for holding that many students and parents. The school doesn’t have a proper auditorium. Sources from the US Embassy have directly confirmed to us that the school was offered millions of dollars to build a state-of-the-art theater, but that the school declined the money because it came with the condition that the State Department could audit the school’s finances.

Given the way the school backdates indemnity checks, we aren’t surprised to find out they don’t want outsiders looking at the books, even if it means giving up such a large gift.

Use the link at the top to view the petition and sign it if you agree. If you don’t agree with the petition, then comment below and let us know.

ASK Can’t Host Sporting Events

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After the demolition of the bubble and reconstruction of some shade plus walls around the pool, ASK is no longer able to host sporting events for international competitions, as they are required to be held in indoor facilities. Local Kuwait tournaments don’t have such stringent rules and are not affected.

Another blow to ASK’s reputation, which is all but gone now. In the past, ASK regularly competed outside of Kuwait and hosted international competitions as well. In addition, the campus was known for the Bubble. Like the students, faculty, and remainder of the facility, the Bubble was neglected. Now it is gone. What will be gone next?

Update on Readership (May 13)

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Last week saw the 4th week in a row of increased views here at American School of Kuwait Reviews. We ran our first survey in months, and it is still being updated as responses come in. Here are some stats:

  • 2,571 views
  • 309 unique viewers
  • 13 comments

In fact, it is only May 13, but the Month of May has already seen the 6th most views of the 14 months we have been in operation. At this pace, May 2019 should end as the 3rd highest month in our short history. It will fall behind November 2018 (11,342 views), when then middle-school principal Nancy Abdul-Ghafoor abruptly left without giving notice and May 2018 (10,592), which was our first full month after being formed. We are less than 1 day away from receiving our 60,000th view.

The end of the school year is fast approaching. Keep calm. Don’t panic. We will cover the odds and ends that come up at the end of the school year. You can send videos of graduation, the end of year banquet, or any other items of interest to contact@americanschoolofkuwaitreviews.com. We will continue to update our survey through the last day for all teachers, and we will also be running some previous articles that you may have forgotten about.

Featured Comment: “..who are you guys seriously defending…”

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We received a comment on our post “Students are not be allowed on campus” recently that we felt warranted further discussion. Here is said comment:

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In more simple terms, the writer is saying that ASK employs bad teachers. While ASK has great teachers by the bucketload, this reader is not wrong. ASK does, in fact, hire bad teachers. A casual reader of our site might think that our position is that “all teachers are good” and “all administrators are bad,” but we encourage a more careful reading than that. Like any school, ASK has teachers with a range of skill level, enthusiasm, subject knowledge, and integrity.

The fact is, ASK struggles to hire any teachers at all, much less good ones. And while some of the bad teachers get let go, some remain. Likewise, some of the good teachers don’t always make it (sometimes due to false accusations), but many of the good teachers stay for at least a few years. If ASK wants a higher proportion of high-quality teachers, they will need to change their norms, culture, policies, and procedures in order to attract them. It is the mission of our blog to advocate for these changes, including but not limited to:

  • Administrative change
    • Qualified and experienced administrators who can provide professional leadership and improve morale will be more successful in recruiting teachers.
  • Increased pay
    • The pay scale is changing for next year, and teachers will make more money. But is it enough? Will teachers be satisfied with the new professional development fund structure? We foresee problems ahead. It is likely that this raise is both too little and too late.
  • Better professional development
    • The new pay structure seems like it is going to hurt professional development opportunity. Sending many teachers to as many professional development opportunities as possible not only increases morale and raises teacher competency, but it also puts ASK’s name out into the international teaching community at large in a positive light.
  • Improved housing
    • Thanks to basic google searches, this website, and ISR, prospective teachers have a good idea about where they will live before signing a contract. They know the pros (of which there are many) and cons of the housing and of Mahboula. Based on neighbourhood cleanliness, attempted kidnappings, distance to work, and overall maintenance neglect, we don’t think that the housing is a net positive for ASK.

Hindsight is 20/20, and for those teachers who have moved on from ASK, it is easy to see that all of these issues have caused for ASK to have less success recruiting high-quality experienced teachers. But there are other effects:

  • Student discipline
    • New teachers need time to develop classroom management skills. This is notoriously difficult at ASK. This problem is magnified by the ratio of experienced to inexperienced teachers – there is simply a lack of mentors available to assist new teachers develop these skills.
  • Quality of incoming students
    • Why would a prospective family send their students to ASK? Many families judge schools by tuition cost, assuming the most expensive is the best. ASK is not the most expensive. Some look at the quality of the physical campus – ASK is certainly not anywhere near the top of that list. ASK also fails to win in teacher experience, class size, and MAP test results. When the best students choose to go elsewhere, ASK is forced to take any student who applies. The days of a waiting list are long over.

When a school can’t recruit experienced high-quality teachers, then over time it will become less attractive to prospective families (customers). This creates a downward cycle, and ASK has been slowly surfing that downward cycle for quite a while now. This is, eventually, going to affect the revenue that the school is able to generate (ironic for a for-profit school). In our opinion, it is profoundly disappointing that Wael Abdul-Ghafoor inherited a school that was founded by his father, one that had a stellar reputation in the international community, and simply turned it into a vehicle for putting cash in his pockets while letting the teachers and students who were in the care of his school fall down the list of priorities.

In closing, we propose two questions.

  1. Why would a teacher choose to work at ASK over other choices in Kuwait?
  2. Why would a family choose to send their child to ASK over these other choices?

Frankly, we don’t have a good answer to either question.

 

Update on Chickens

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We hope you all are enjoying your weekend.

Thanks to everybody who added the ASKR Snapchat account. We have finally seen the video of the senior prank. Unfortunately, the chicken was already bagged up by a guard, and we will not be showing the video as student faces are visible. It can be found on YouTube if you have a basic grasp of Arabic.

Time to get ready for work tomorrow. It is going to be a busy week.

“Students are not be allowed on campus”

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The following is an e-mail sent to members of the High School Faculty from Dr. Hazel at 9:38 this morning (May 8).

Good morning Teachers,

Seniors

Senior Countdown scheduled for today has been cancelled and students are not be allowed on campus until their senior exams next week. Only seniors who are taking AP exams will be allowed on campus and their names has been provided to the front gate. Any make up summatives previously scheduled for seniors will need to be given during the week of senior exams. You will need to provide Mr. Walker with any make up summatives for seniors by tomorrow (May 9) 12:00 pm. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Master Schedule 1019-2020

The Master Schedule is primarily complete and will be shared in Sunday’s News & Notes. I have not released it to teachers as changes are continuously being made as students are scheduled. This is the reason there may be students who are aware of some of your teaching periods. If you would like to know before Sunday your periods and preps feel free to come by, but be mindful as it may change depending on the numbers/needs of the students.

We think it is fantastic that the high school administration and assistant superintendent could collectively enforce punishment on students by taking away the Senior Countdown. We also understand that students who come on campus when not allowed may not walk at graduation. Remember from our previous post, “Our students and families will win you over with their generosity and spirit.”

As for the Master Schedule, we are a bit surprised that students are getting to see schedules but teachers are not. The reason that “schedules may change” isn’t really a great reason because:

  • That would also be a valid reason not to show students.
  • Teachers are college educated adults who understand uncertainty.
  • The schedules are going to change for the first week of the school year. By this logic, we should not tell teachers their schedule then, either. Just let them be surprised by who shows up!

Your teachers are professionals, and we think they should be treated this way. Showing respect and allowing adults to make professional judgments is a good way to increase morale and staff buy-in. That said, Dr. Hazel has a lot on her plate, trying to hire teachers this late in the year while dealing with student pranks.