On World Teachers’ Day, Afaf Zaidan, an Early Years teacher at QF’s Qatar Academy Doha, speaks about her participation in a musical that brought the school community together even in the most challenging times
When Afaf Zaidan had the opportunity to participate in an end-of-year school musical at the Qatar Foundation school she teaches at, she didn’t agree out of a sense of duty. Instead, she joined the show because of the challenge it offered, her curiosity and desire to discover her potential – and her belief that the learning journey doesn’t stop when you become a teacher.
It was a unique activity that boosted the sense of inclusivity and communication among our school community - young people and adults
Speaking about her experience of joining a group of 75 performers – students and teachers alike – from across schools under Qatar Foundation’s Pre-University Education (PUE) in Showtime!, a musical production of much-loved Broadway musical numbers, Zaidan, an Early Years teacher at Qatar Academy Doha, said: “When my daughter auditioned for the show, and I found out that teachers could be part of it as well, I jumped at the opportunity,”
“Firstly, I felt it was an opportunity to connect with my daughter and students on another level, and secondly, It was a unique activity that boosted the sense of inclusivity and communication among our school community - young people and adults.”
Zaidan feels her participation in the PUE-led show – which was developed over a period of 14 months – helped her discover her ability to express herself in new ways that she had never considered before, and strengthened the relationship between teachers and students as they learned and practiced together.
I was very fortunate as I was able to see this shift as a parent, teacher, and performer. I watched how each student gained skills beyond the classroom
“I witnessed the growth in my students’ self-confidence and how they connected with the teachers; there was respect and an understanding on both parts,” she said. “I was very fortunate as I was able to see this shift as a parent, teacher, and performer. I watched how each student gained skills beyond the classroom.
“They grew in self-confidence, open-mindedness, flexibility, adapting to changes, learning to collaborate, engage, and communicate, all of which are social skills that would last for a lifetime. And it was an opportunity for us as teachers to connect with our students on their platform.”
A documentary chronicling the story and the purpose of SHOWTIME! was premiered to Qatar’s community in April.
Having participated in the musical, Zaidan believes that performing arts maximizes engagement and innovative thinking. “This is vital to students’ success not only as individuals, but as members of society,” she said. “It emphasizes creativity, imagination, and also the values of cultural understanding and social harmony.”
As teachers, we were working and learning alongside all these young students, proving that no matter what our age or position is, there are always new things to learn and dreams to accomplish
A teacher at Qatar Academy Doha for 11 years, Zaidan was determined to “learn” and partake in such a vast production that brought together students and teachers from across QF schools, all of different ages and backgrounds.
“The rehearsals themselves pushed all of us to our limits, but I never once thought of quitting,” she said. “On the contrary, every day I grew more enthusiastic about doing better.
“As teachers, we were working and learning alongside all these young students, proving that no matter what our age or position is, there are always new things to learn and dreams to accomplish.”
Zaidan believes that this artistic adventure strengthened the sense of belonging to a QF community, as well as providing a creative stage that brought people together amid the challenging times created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even through the most unexpected circumstances, halting the production was never on our minds,” she says. “Instead, the project was changed to a film production that brought us all closer as one big family who are eager to reach beyond the stars and shine.”