Living and working both in the US and Palestine, I have worked as a language instructor, both as a private Arabic and an ESL teacher, and a Freelance Translator for several years.
As an Arabic Language Instructor for three years at the Islamic Center of the Triad Sunday School in Greensboro, NC, I assumed responsibilities of classroom teacher (students’ ages ranged from 9 years to 18 years). My responsibilities included communication with parents, professional development, assessment of students, and staff meetings. In addition, I developed lesson plans and provided individual assistance to students and taught three major subjects in English and Arabic simultaneously; Arabic included grammar, reading, conversation and Quran recitation. I also taught college level Arabic using Al-Kitaab fii Ta'allum al-'Arabiyya: A Textbook for Beginning Arabic, Part One for high school students.
As an ESL Teacher with AMIDEAST, I assumed responsibilities of classroom teacher for three 2-month courses including communication with and assessment of students. I followed AMIDEAST lesson plans for the “Basics in English Writing” course and Level 5 ESL course which included listening, grammar, writing and conversation. While in Palestine, I also worked as a private tutor in Arabic for adults where I worked one on one with an American and German NGO workers in beginning to intermediate level Arabic for one year.
As a Freelance Translator for a number for a couple of years, I worked with AMIDEAST on a project where I provided professional translation services of from English to Arabic of over 100 success stories of Palestinian International Fellowship Program (IFP) Alumni. I've also provided translation services to SocDoc Studios where I provided Arabic to English and English to Arabic translation services of colloquial dialect and formal language for program materials including film and web production.
Starting out as a tutor to my brother, teaching at the local Islamic Sunday school, and tutoring and teaching Arabic and English (both as a second language) in the US and the Middle East respectively have all been invaluable experiences that contributed to the development of my teaching philosophy. Simply, the most important value to have as a teacher/tutor is Servant Leadership. A teacher guides his students by transferring knowledge that will allow them to develop the skills needed to achieve what they identify as their priorities. By serving - not helping - my students, I plan to humbly contribute to their greater knowledge, guiding them towards achieving their learning goals.
When teaching in a class or tutoring an individual, the substance of the student’s education is demonstrated in the idea of unity between the student and her ability to achieve their maximum potential learning outcomes. The student’s awareness of her current reality which includes her passion, abilities, resources and limitations is what will drive her towards achieving her learning goals. In my classes and tutoring sessions, I aim to support students to realize these goals through information-processing and active thinking. While these two concepts seem synonymous, there is a clear distinction between them. When knowledge is transferred from the teacher to the student, the student is prompted to process the presented information but it does not necessarily mean that this information is meaningful to her. In other words, the student might not think about the information in a way that will address her specific needs and challenges. Therefore, I design my classes and materials in a way that presents purposeful information that stimulates the student to perceive knowledge as meaningful, relevant and applicable. When designing a language class, the subject at hand must be tailored in a way that caters to the student’s learning style and learning outcomes while keeping her overall goal to learn the subject as the guiding element.
Studying the background of students in the class and having an understanding of the kind of academic and practical experiences they may have with the subject is key to tailoring a course that has the versatility to cater to these different experiences. When the teacher is aware of such experiences, and observes the students’ learning styles and personalities, he is able to relate to the students and identify their strengths and limitations that will influence their ability to fully process and comprehend the material. The expected outcomes of the class should be clear; providing knowledge and building skills to strengthen their capacity to work towards their goal and even identify new ones.
In order to connect the course material to the expected outcomes, the teaching approach, methodology and communication between the instructor and the students must play a great role. Appreciating issues of subjectivity in understanding information and its effect on student learning is an opportunity for the instructor to use several approaches to communicate information. Providing the appropriate mix of passive and active learning approaches through lectures, textbooks and articles, dialogue and others will accommodate various learning styles and elicit different responses that will expand the students’ capacity to learn. Such responses are characterized by thoughts, feelings and opinions that passive learning alone does not always generate. These various ways of communicating knowledge and the responses to them will help students sense, process and think about information and assemble a learning experience that caters to their interests and learning goals.
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