QF teacher Manal Al-Shammari – the recent winner of an Education Excellence Award for her contribution to children’s learning – speaks about how educators can make a difference to young lives.
My story in education started when I joined Qatar Academy Al Khor during the 2009-2010 school year. I was fortunate with the amount of support and training I received, and I am still receiving, to be a better teacher.
The best part of my profession as a teacher is my ability to bring about positive change in the lives of my students.
The best part of my profession as a teacher is my ability to bring about positive change in the lives of my students, and this is how I felt during my first year when I encountered the challenge of having a student with selective mutism in my class.
I still remember very well the day when I heard his voice for the first time during the school’s Careers Week, when he whispered into my ear with a voice that I barely heard: “When I grow up, I want to become an Arabic language teacher”. I also remember when his mother came at the end of the day - her eyes filled with tears of joy - and thanked me in person. This made me realize that I chose the right profession, and that teaching is the best environment for me.
Over the years, I had many opportunities to learn and benefit from the experiences of others in my field. I also had opportunities to share my knowledge and experiences with others, as I was entrusted with the task of leading the team of Arabic language teachers within the school elementary stage of Grades 1 and 2.
I also participated in the preparation of the first season of Siraj, Qatar Foundation’s edutainment TV series built around the Arabic language, by writing the stories of ‘Arabic Letters’ within a team of brilliant teachers. With all the orientation and training I received, I began to see that my students also use their knowledge to influence and change the lives of others.
I believe that the genuine wealth is embodied in human development.
From this path of collaboration, the idea of the Young Authors project for Grade 2 students emerged, which was implemented with the support of the school’s administration and my colleagues. Grade 2 students learned how to write a story and experienced the author’s work life. They wrote their own stories, which were printed, and an exhibition which we called Young Authors was held as a result. Students presented their stories to the public and sold them at a nominal fee in order to collect donations, with the proceeds going to the Education Above All foundation’s Educate a Child initiative. The students chose this initiative because they wanted to make a difference to the lives of children around the world, and help them have a better future through education.
The knowledge and learning opportunities that I have had over the past years because of Qatar Foundation, and specifically at Qatar Academy Al Khor, have enabled me to achieve my dream of reaching the podium of honor at Qatar’s Education Excellence Awards, and win the Scientific Excellence Award (Distinguished Teacher Category) for 2020. Obtaining this award is indeed an achievement, as it is the highest award to be obtained by any male or female teacher in Qatar.
I believe that the genuine wealth is embodied in human development, and here lies the importance of education and its outcomes which will shape the future of our country.
Manal Al-Shammari is an Arabic language teacher for Grade 2 students at Qatar Academy Al Khor, part of Qatar Foundation’s Pre-University Education