Emirati teacher Shaikha Al Shehhi is among the top 50 teachers shortlisted for the $1 million Global Teacher Prize. She talks to EJME about her journey and plans for the future
I have loved the concept of teaching since childhood and used to play the game "The Teacher and Students" with my younger siblings and friends. During the course of my professional career, I interacted with different kinds of teachers and each one added special value to this journey. They played an integral role in truly inspiring my love for learning, singing, and acting. A huge chunk of my success is due to the role my parents played in supporting me through my journey. Presently, my husband is my helping hand he is an open-minded individual and offers necessary advice, support and suggestions.
I have been teaching since 2005. From my very first year, I have worked hard to raise my teaching standards with activities within and outside the school. I communicate regularly with colleagues, parents, the community, and stakeholders. Previously, I have worked as a facilitator, trainer, teacher development specialist and reading programme supervisor. Each year, I attempt to create a different learning experience for my students preparing them for global citizenship and equipping them to move towards a more innovative approach in dealing with situations.
I have learned that succeeding in this profession depends on your characteristics and the quality of your teaching methods and approach. Setting high standards for yourself is essential to provide the best quality of education to your students. We, as teachers, must focus on providing valuable lessons to our students and not just on the academic aspect.
Teaching is not an easy profession it can get challenging sometimes. However, having a positive mind-set is an essential ingredient towards succeeding in your job. A teacher's attitude is directly proportional to a student's behaviour. Hence it is of utmost importance to reflect positivity and the brighter aspects in life.
It is necessary to treat all students equally and since each student has different grasping powers, a teacher needs to ensure every student gets the same amount of attention. Children can quickly sense any biased behaviour and we have to remember that we deal with hearts before minds.
Right now, I am focusing on the reading programme in my school. I'm trying to inculcate the habit of reading within all the students, not just in my school, but the UAE overall. I have also written a book which has guidelines to encourage reading at home with your families. Voluntary work is important in every aspect of education. Hence, I have developed a theme around sending books to unprivileged children in countries that don't have a strong education system. If this programme succeeds, I hope to bring this to light globally through the Varkey Teacher Ambassadors team.
I advise Emirati women to go ahead and start teaching. This profession is the core of your country's progress, growth and development. By teaching, you mould the nation's leaders of tomorrow. This profession is considered one of the most noble and valuable in the world the feeling of watching your students succeed and do well in life is the most rewarding feeling in the world.
Being nominated for the Global Teacher Prize is a great honour and milestone in my career. If I win the prize, I'll use the funds to cooperate with experts worldwide to plan a feasibility study for an 'Academy of Creative Thinking'. This project will aim to improve all state schools' creativity in scientific, technical, and electronic innovations.