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.

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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).

 

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Cookies after they’ve been cut into rectangular shapes

 

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Frying

 

 

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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.

Decolonizing Education

I read this article a couple of weeks ago, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Basically, students at the School of African and Oriental Studies want to decolonize the College’s curricula by including nonwhite thinkers. I really like the movement, but I think that the conversation needs to be move beyond “including PoC because nonwhite thinkers have a lot to say about race.” Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Just like white thinkers, PoC not only talk about race, they also talk about other issues such as economics, politics and education. 
  • The idea of “including” nonwhite thinkers goes back to W.E.B DuBois’ discussion on if nonwhite people (specifically Black people) have contributed to their societies. Assuming that PoC must be “forced” into the curricula is problematic because it suggests that there aren’t many nonwhite thinkers out there (which isn’t true).
  • It’s tokenizing and obvious.
  • A thinker’s exploration of race isn’t always there to “teach” a hypothetical white audience and these ideas might sometimes be meant for nonwhite audiences (so that’s it more of an opportunity to discuss things with people who share a common experience). A College like SOAS would definitely need more nonwhite thinkers for this very reason since it speaks to a specific type of experience.
  • Talking about race shouldn’t be seen as always political (although nothing about education is apolitical) and as having a multicultural basis (Kante did write a whole book on different ethnicities!).

I have a lot to say about this, but this pretty much sums up what I think.