I have loved being a student again this summer.
By the end of week 1 in his class, my teacher immediately noted I was far more advanced than my placement. When he asked me about my study goals, I said, Joy.
By week 2, he would preface his introduction of any concept by asking me if I had studied it before. I found myself surprised when I began to recall much of what I thought I had forgotten – including poetry I learned more than a decade ago.
By week 3, if I said something that reminded him of a verse or proverb or story, he would pass it on.
By week 4, I completed writing the first draft of a play in Arabic.
By weeks 5 & 6, we read about and discussed various subjects: capital punishment, equality and equity, education, identity, the Arab Spring, unemployment, COVID-19.
He recognized what kind of student I am, understood the ideas I wanted to convey, challenged me, and helped to preserve and strengthen my voice while also balancing his attention on other students.
I found myself not only reviewing Arabic as a student; I was studying his pedagogy as a teacher.
This – and the ability to laugh at each other as adults – kept me in the classroom
Brilliant communicators, humble listeners, imaginative creators, lifelong students, rich in experience, underpaid for their worth — the best teachers are familiar to me.
I wish for them what teachers around the world deserve — dignity and respect for their labor and expertise; a salary by which they can support themselves and their dependents; resources for their own personal health and professional development; and time to rest and fill their cup after pouring so much into others.
I was running on empty when I arrived, and my Moroccan teachers filled my cup.
To everyone returning to the classroom this fall, I wish you joy, good health, and excellent teaching and learning.
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