Tell us a bit about your background:
My name is Tahani Hashem, a Palestinian Australian, who was born and raised in Kuwait. After working in three schools, teaching Middle School Mathematics, I moved to BBS and have been teaching Math to Elementary students for 17 years. This is my first year as an Instructional Coach, and while it is a relatively new position, my years as a teacher have taught me so much and have given me the confidence and opportunities to enable me to pursue other roles.
I grew up in a household passionate about academia; both my parents were teachers. I believe it is in my genes to love teaching, to pass on knowledge and try to make a difference in the way students and people comprehend and enjoy learning.
When I was a student myself, I disliked word problems in Math class. I constantly found myself wondering about ways in which it could be taught in a more enjoyable manner, that would allow my peers and myself to engage in class. Therefore, when I started my career as a Math teacher, it was essential for me to produce new strategies, annually, that would allow students to engage in the classroom and deepen their mathematical interests and knowledge.
It brings me great joy and satisfaction to watch my students progress, enjoy Math and even get creative with constructing their own word problems.
Explain one new approach to teaching and learning that you have undertaken (or are currently undertaking) this academic year. (What did you/students do, for how long, and what was the (intended outcome/impact?)
Years ago a veteran teacher told me that the key to maintaining students' interest, is to make sure they experience a sense of accomplishment. For many students, understanding the concepts and ideologies that they learn in class, and doing well on a quiz or a test, does not give them a rewarding sense of accomplishment. These are not considered positive motivators for them. I found that students often ask doubtful questions like: “When will I ever apply this in a real life situation?” Students like to see results and outcomes that are more tangible and relevant to their experiences and perspectives. Therefore, I found it to be more affective when students view their academic life as a part of their personal life and achievements.
Being an Instructional Coach this year has given me the chance to learn a variety of new skills from a different perspective, through meetings, conferences, and working with other teachers as a team, rather than as individuals. It also enables me to support teachers outside and inside the classroom. In my current position, I aim towards working with the teachers and aiding them in allowing students to make the connection between what they learn in school and their day-to-day lives. It is essential to break the rigidity of traditional teaching methods and allow students to view class time as enjoyable, as well as disciplinary.
My first-hand experience shows me that students’ enjoyment, engagement and reception to information, are the most rewarding and significant moments in a teacher’s career.
Do you have any inspirational words and/or specific sites, organizations, strategies, or links that you’d like to share with other teachers?
"The journey for education starts with a childhood question." - David L. Finn