2 Books That Will Improve Your Teaching Skills

My summer… well, I spent a significant amount of time this summer reading about teaching.  I want to share two of the best books that I read. You don’t need to be a teacher to benefit from some of these books because a lot of these strategies will cross over to other areas of your life. So, here are two books that will definitely improve your skills in the classroom and beyond:

  1. Fostering Resilient Learners: Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom: This book is one of the best on the topic of trauma and learning. It explains the role that trauma has on the classroom. For example, students who have experienced a certain type of trauma, such as watching a parent pass away, will also most likely have experienced other types of trauma. Trauma then informs the way that we teach, students learn, and the role the classroom has in the student’s life (e.g. is the class a safe space for the learner?). So, for a teacher who wants to respond to the issues that shape the classroom, this book lists some the ways to think about yourself as a teacher, learner, and human. It specifically dispels the misconceptions that a teacher is there to save and empathize with the student who has experienced traumatic events. If you want to know why this isn’t the case, then read the book. You can also read the book because it talks about self-care!
  2. Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov: This book has all types of tips, from greeting your students at the door when they come in, to how to arrange your classroom desks. This book is a collection of strategies that the author, Doug Lemov observed expert teachers using in their classrooms. Teach like a Champion covers how to pass out papers in class, what types of affirmations work with students, and the difference between classroom management and discipline. It’s a great book that will help you a lot as you begin the school year or when you have questions about teaching or raising children (yes, parents can use these tips too!).

If you’ve read both, what are your thoughts on it? Leave a comment below. My school district was having teachers read Resilient Learners and there were professional development workshops based on this book, so it’s a pretty popular book in educational circles. I’m very curious to hear what others think of this book.


Day 7 of My Gratitude Journal

This week was a bit of a slower week at work. I got a lot of running done though 🙂 and was busy making different types of food. Food that reminds me of my family, childhood and the way that I was raised. I also wanted to share some of the things that are really important to me with you all. So, here’s my gratitude journal for this week:


  • The Quran that you seem above is a Quran I got from my father when I was really into studying tafseer (the interpretation of the Quran) and tajweed (rules of reciting the Quran). It, of course, has a special place in my life because it’s one of the first Qurans that I smiled, cried and pondered over. And yep, it’s a large Quran. I pulled this out this week remembering my connection with it a few years ago, a connection that I want to revive again, inshaAllah. I’m grateful for having this Quran from my father, alhamdulilah.
  • I made special dinners this week. One of my goals is to make dinner as many times as I can over the week because I haven’t been as active about it as I’d like. This week I made malawah, a Somali bread with ghee and sugar sprinkled all over it. Here’s what it looks like:








  • I increased my mileage this week while running! Alhamdulilah. I’ll keep improving as time goes by.
  • Got to spend time with family this week! Alhamdulilah.
  • Got 2 weeks of teaching at this school done and have midterms coming up, alhamdulilah.





Day 6 of My Gratitude Journal

As I’ve been writing these posts on things that I’m grateful for, I’ve been thinking a lot about what to share and leave out. Some of the things that I mention seem insignificant (Greek yogurt? Really?!), but they’re not because every small gift has a much larger effect because they’re the things that we overlook and take for granted. So, I’ll share both major and minor things and let you decide what you, yourself are grateful for. Some days, I feel like I have more minor things to be grateful for, whereas, on other days, I find that I’m thinking of major life-changing aspects of my life. So, here’s today’s list:

  • I was able to run a number of miles that I used to run yesterday! I’ve been running for a year and a half now, and when I got better at running (around 4-5 months after I started running), I used to run a few miles and for an at least an hour a day. Yesterday’s run reminded me of those days because I felt faster, stronger and refreshed.


  • Friday was a great day at school because I felt so very positive about my first week of teaching at this new school! I also came up with an interesting activity for students after reading this article by Haben Girma, a disabilities rights activist, on how those with disabilities have spurred innovation and thought about connecting this article to my reading class’s text, Wonder (I know, you’ve heard a lot about it a lot now!). I feel like it’s important that my students, who are impacted by society’s views of disabilities, think about how those with disabilities have shaped our world for the better and how those with disabilities were and are able to accomplish a lot. So, the activity that I have planned will get them to think about Girma’s argument, the book, and themselves. 
  • One of my students told me this week that reading, which is the class that I teach, was his favorite class. I was so happy to hear that since I knew that it was hard to get him to participate in class discussions or to get him to work with other students.


  • I had the opportunity to make these traditional cookies called Buskud Saleed with my mom! I feel like it’s important that I have time alone with family to catch up on things and just be around each other. I love cooking so it was fun to smell the aroma of fried cookies (although I don’t eat them since they’re so unhealthy) and see their light brown color.


  • The following quotes from Don’t Be Sad by Aidh Al Qarni on positivity and wellbeing. They’re some of the reasons why I’ve made it a challenge for myself to look for things I’m grateful for every day.

“happiness in acquired by assuming it. It is acquired by constantly smiling, by hunting for the reasons that make one happy, even by forcing it onto one’s self, however awkward that may seem”(86).

“Your life is the product of your thoughts. The thoughts that you invest in will have an indelible effect upon your life, regardless of whether they are happy thoughts or miserable thoughts”(121).

“Higher goals are not achieved through dreaming or fantasizing; they can only be reached through dedication and commitment” (128).


Cookies after they’ve been cut into rectangular shapes





Ready to eat!

Please leave a comment below if you’d like me to continue writing about some of the things that I’m grateful for.  I have other things that I’ll soon be posting about. Please also feel free to leave a comment about something you’d like to know about me or would like to see me write about. You can also share my posts 🙂


Day 5 of My Gratitude Journal

Since starting my new job as an English and Writing Specialist at a middle and high school, there’s a lot that I’ve been thinking about but I’ll focus on some key things that I’m grateful for, inshaAllah. So…here’s a list of things that I’m grateful for this week:

  1. I’m getting a lot of experience working with students with disabilities. I’m grateful for this because I’ve realized that I need to slow down, do comprehension checks, and simplify but not dumb down the content. They finish most of the work that I give them much faster than I expect and they’ve done well on the post-test that I gave them yesterday. As for reading Wonder, my students have told me that they like the book so far :-). I”m so glad! We’ve had some interesting discussion so far.
  2. I’ve been thinking about teaching abroad, but I’m unsure if this is right for me at this point in my life. I’m still grateful for the opportunities and help that have presented themselves though.
  3. I feel like I’m getting closer to finding the answer to certain questions in my life such as my choice of career. The upside to trying out different jobs is getting to, hopefully, that much closer to finding the job that suits me and is something that I’d like to dedicate my life to.
  4. I’m grateful for peanut butter sandwiches, Greek yoghurt, chai, incense (bukhoor), and beautiful hijabs.
  5. I love the place where I live despite its flaws.

Day 4 of My Gratitude Journal

This week has been a little rough, but here’s my list of things that I’m grateful for:

  • I recently met someone who is a long-distance runner and found that inspiring. I really enjoy running, so I’m thinking of running with training in mind again. I run 4-5x a week but I haven’t really been running with training in mind. I’d like to increase the number of miles that I run. I’d eventually like to run a marathon! 
  • I went for a walk in the morning and got to see this beautiful sunrise that reminded me of the eclipse we had a few weeks ago! (I loved watching the eclipse with my students). Here’s a picture from my walk:

IMG_3980 (1) 2.jpg

  • The weather has been pretty good! It’s rained once (I love rain!) but most days it’s been sunny and nice outside. It hasn’t been as warm as it usually is. But of course, it’s September and I’m totally ready for the fall!
  • I started a new position at a new school this week. Starting this coming week, I’ll also be teaching Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I’m very excited to be teaching this book since it has so many layers that I can discuss with the students that I’ll be working with. It’s also definitely an important book to be reading in our Directed Studies class (it’s a course that helps students with Individual Education Program (IEP)). The school that I’m currently working prefers to use the term Directed Studies because that’s what we do in our course, offer direct support to students who need it. Friday was my first day so I can’t say much about the school so far, but I do love that students are in charge of their learning and that they have access to so many resources such as online classes in other campuses (even university courses) and that the class sizes are smaller in the Directed Studies courses. It’s also interesting that students from all grades take different classes together such as English. I’ll have more to say about my experience as time goes by.
  • I realize that I really love watching teacher YouTubers and teacher Instagrams! Okay, I know that you’re probably getting tired of hearing about teaching, but I’m honestly impressed by the amount of teachers on YouTube! My favorite people to watch so far are toocoolformiddleschool and Real Rap with the Reynolds. I also like following the Hipster Teacher on Instagram. I love that they offer relevant and interesting teaching advice and tips. I also like that they share some of the same interests (teaching and social justice and teaching with relevance in mind).

Anyway, I know that this post focused a lot on teaching, but that’s what’s on my mind right now and that’s what I’m grateful for.

Day 3 of My Gratitude Journal

Today’s list:

  • I locked myself out of my car a couple of days ago and had some people at a store open it for me, alhamdulilah.
  • Had a great day yesterday. Was able to knock down my thinking errors.
  • Worked out today despite feeling like I didn’t want to.
  • Have an interview tomorrow, inshaAllah.
  • Not feeling as a bad about having left my job because I realize that there’s no use repeating the past in my mind again and again. I still can pursue my goals.
  • Was sent an interesting talk about positivity and pessimism by a friend. It had some interesting points that I took away from.
  • Realized that I enjoy working and do best when I’m very busy.
  • Realized that I love everything that has to do with education and learning. That I belong in education.
  • Made a commitment to myself to making use of my time no matter what.
  • My hair feels like it’s getting longer 🙂
  • Love the book Don’t Be Sad by Sh. Aidh al Qarni. Benefitted the most from these points on the best way to deal with sadness and depression: 1) take care of other people 2) keep yourself busy and don’t think of stress as a bad thing 3) let go of your yesterdays and tomorrows and live in the moment (mindfulness).
  • Made heartfelt dua this morning
  • Got to fast on the day of Arafah
  • Had a good Eid
  • This Ayah: “Indeed, those you [polytheists] call upon besides Allah are servants like you” [7:194]. Although this Ayah talks about calling on someone besides Allah in terms of worship, I think that the word “ta’du”, call upon, is important here because sometimes when things get difficult, we rely too much on people. We call on them for help instead of taking our complaints and fears to Allah (SWT). So, remembering this Ayah helps me remember that everyone I want to turn to is just like me, a servant of God.
  • That it’s not a very warm summer, alhamdulilah!
  • That I’m a freelance writer so I’m gaining some experience.
  • That I enjoy reading and writing.
  • That I have a lot to share.

Day 2 of My Gratitude Journal

Here are some things that I have grateful for today:

  1. Good health
  2. Opportunities; job offers, alhamdulilah
  3. Good weather
  4. My sisters and brothers
  5. The Quran
  6. Being a Muslimah
  7. The people that I’ve met
  8. A home to live in
  9. Food to eat
  10. Clothes
  11. Avocadoes
  12. My parents (I know a repeat!)
  13. Starting some of my spiritual routines again.
  14. Overcoming some of my fears
  15. Having people I can count on and talk to
  16. Working out frequently
  17. Adkhar’s calming effect on my heart
  18. Knowing that things will always workout in the end and that I’m not barred from things.