Teach Middle East Magazine first met Betina Fuentes when she reached out to us prior to moving to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Her eagerness to learn as much as possible, share with fellow educators and her flexibility in adapting to change, have added to Betina being able to enjoy a smooth transition from the United States to the UAE, her home for the past two years.
Betina discovered her passion for teaching after she followed the encouragement of a few friends and decided to pursue an education course during her freshman year in college. At the time, she was fast losing enthusiasm for her International Business course, which she was majoring in. Since then, she has been a passionate advocate of lifelong learning and has taken deliberate steps to advanced herself educationally.
She currently holds a Masters of Education degree and teaches at a Cycle 2 girls’ school in Al Ain, where she also functions as English Department Coordinator. Betina credits her excellent professors, who helped to ignite her passion for teaching and learning.
Get to know a bit about this innovative educator and find out more about the things that inspire her love for teaching and learning.
How many years have you been a teacher?
I’ve been a teacher since 2007. I finished my bachelor’s degree after my third child entered preschool.
What has your experience in the UAE been like so far?
My experience in the UAE has been absolutely incredible so far. I love the fact that ADEC supports its teachers with housing and excellent benefits, so that we are free to concentrate our energies on teaching. I would encourage my fellow expats to become more engaged with the local teachers, as they have a wealth of cultural insight that can help with adjusting to the country and understanding our students.
What are two fun things you like to do by yourself?
When I do get time to myself (rare since I have a toddler), I love to head to the beach and relax and recharge. Another solo pastime is shopping for home items. I’m obsessed with dishes and housewares!
You are a versatile writer and have written for both sections of the magazine. When did you discover your passion for writing?
My passion for writing stemmed directly from my passion for reading. I’ve been a voracious reader since the age of two, and I’ve been writing stories since elementary school. I enjoy writing more expository pieces, since that comes from my love for teaching. Sharing information and helping others is my way of teaching without being physically present.
How do you stay abreast of new trends in education?
I rely on social media for a great deal of new information about teaching. Sites like Edutopia, Organized Classroom and of course Teach Middle East Magazine, are excellent for compiling and explaining great ideas that can have an immediate impact in the classroom.
Share one thing about you that would surprise your colleagues.
I love skydiving and extreme sports. I’ve gone skydiving in Florida and have plans to learn to go solo here in the UAE. I’m also planning to skydive in Nepal on our next trip there. Learning to drift and drive a rally car are also on my list!
What are three key things that you wish to accomplish in the next five years?
I want to complete a second Masters in Linguistics or begin a Ph.D. in Education, visit the four remaining continents I haven’t seen, and enter a literary competition.
Connect with Betina via Twitter – @BetinaWFuentes
By Carolyn Lee
Carolyn is the editor of Teach Middle East Magazine.