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Sajida AL Bashir is originally from Palestine; she was born in Amman Jordan. She is a mother of four amazing children; Rahaf who graduated from Sharjah University last December, Ahmad who is studying in Canada doing his third year in New Brunswick, studying International Business, Amjad who has just started studying at Thomson Rivers University in Canada and Waleed who recently entered year two at Repton school Dubai.

Sajida has been teaching for the last 24 years- one year in Jordan and 23 years in Dubai. Ten of these years have been at Repton Dubai School.

Her passion for teaching was evident since her childhood. Her parents used to observe her teaching her toys.  Sajida now sees the same passion in her own daughter. She has been teaching Islamic Education, Arabic and Social Studies for many years. Sajida considers herself a life-long learner who never stops learning and who is always looking to grow professionally and emotionally. This passion led her to achieve a Master’s degree in education in 2019, graduating from the American University in Dubai.

Sajida has been instrumental in the promotion of cutting edge teaching methodologies in Arabic medium subjects across the United Arab Emirates and even further afield. She recently worked alongside the Teach Middle East team in putting on the largest regional teaching and learning virtual conference on August 25-27, 2020, just before the start of the new academic year. Through her hard work, hundreds of teachers of Arabic, Islamic Studies and Social Studies were able to connect, network and learn virtually, from sessions which were delivered in Arabic by fellow educators from across the region.

Continue reading to learn what fuels Sajida’s passion for education.

Sajida Al Bashir and her family.

What do you enjoy most about being an educator?

I genuinely enjoy every day at school. Seeing my students in class is a blessing. I enjoy teaching them Islamic principles, etiquettes, and Islamic History. I value the different discussions that occur in class, especially if the topic is a controversial topic that instigates some interesting responses from the students. The quality of my students’ questions, the need to know and learn is a bonus to any teacher. The most enjoyable moment is when I see that I have influenced or changed my students’ lives.

What are some challenges you face in your role as an educator, and how do you overcome them?

Changing the assumptions and stereotypes of students about Islamic education takes a lot of work. The weakness in reciting the holy Quran and understanding of the subject has always been a challenge. Students need to know why Islamic Education is a core subject, not only in schools but also in their lives. Many students come from different backgrounds, and some families do not practice Islam at home. This is a huge responsibility placed upon our shoulders as educators and Islamic teachers. To overcome these challenges, I work a lot on building a strong relationship with students and parents. Planning my lessons and linking them to real-life situations is always very effective, making sure that lessons are well planned, and opportunities are being created for students to progress during the academic year.

What are your two favourite EdTech tools, and why?

The digital world has opened new doors in all fields – how can education stay away from this advancement?

With the help of technological innovation and advancement, education is not just limited to the traditional chalk and blackboard style of teaching anymore. Teachers have the freedom to introduce interesting mediums of teaching to make learning, engaging and valuable for their students. My all-time favourite EdTech tools are Nearpod, Seppo, Socrative and Classroom screen.

How do you help fellow educators to share good practice with each other?

As an educator, I always believe in sharing good practice. I am working with Heads of Departments from top schools across Dubai, collaborating as a committee to improve Islamic teaching and learning. We design unified schemes of work and assessments; this gives our students and school managers a chance to explore and standardise the Islamic teaching and learning across the country. I also give workshops on different methods related to the education sector. I have been a speaker in many international and national conferences and panels such as Qudwa Forum, the Finnish Education Expo and many other conferences. I have had the pleasure of travelling to different countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Russia to work closely with educators on raising the profile of teaching core subjects such as; Islamic Studies, Social Studies and Arabic.

What do you do for fun or to unwind after a long day at school?

I love going to the cinema, however with COVID-19, it has become a challenge to go out, but luckily, I still have Netflix. My favourite movies are those based on true stories and historical movies. Reading before going to bed is a great way to finish a busy day.

What is the one thing about you that would surprise your colleagues?

I have two Twitter accounts, one with my real name and the other one as a blogger with 13,000 followers.

What is the best professional advice that you have received, and how has this helped you?

Relationships Matter was the best professional advice I received. It was so impactful that I chose to research the topic further as a part of my master’s degree programme. Another piece of advice I received was to start my lessons from outside the classroom by greeting my students at the door, checking on them, asking them about their day. This creates an opportunity for students to see that you really care.