Teaching my passion
My name is Fahmeeda Hassan. I am an African American Muslim educator. I have served in the field of education for 30 years in many different capacities. I have been vice principal, lead teacher, senior teacher, department chair, classroom teacher, mentor teacher, consultant, tutor, curriculum coordinator and more.
In 1983, a spark for teaching was ignited. It began with the teaching of my first born, Atiya. At the age of one I began teaching her to read using Glenn Doman Better Baby Home reading Program. It was such a successful endeavor. Atiya was reading fluently at the age of three and showing strong understanding of what she had read. I felt invigorated.
I continued to stoke this spark by volunteering at the Islamic Community School in Baltimore City as a part-time Social Studies and Science teacher. I also took an education course through Towson’s State University Continuing Education Program. The information gained from this course fueled by desire to teach. Subsequently I enrolled as a fulltime student and declared myself an education major. During this time I sought out every teaching opportunity I could get. I accepted a substitute teacher position during my student teaching experience in Baltimore City. I volunteered at several mosques as an Islamic Studies Teacher on the weekends. I also obtained a para educator position at the Towson State University Student Day Care Center.
In the year 1990, I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Towson State University and a teaching certificate from the state of Maryland. I had found my passion. I was enthralled with the idea of making a difference in the lives of children and nurturing their quests to seek knowledge. The idea of shaping the future was tantalizing. I could finally do something like Prophet Muhammad PBUH and be good at it. This was my chance to please Allah (God), so I set out on a mission to teach and reach every learner.
I am blessed to have taught in all kinds of schools and had a unique set of classrooms. I have taught in public schools, private schools, in an international school, village school, reconstituted school and home school. My classrooms consisted of traditional self-contained classrooms, open spaced classrooms, Musallahs (prayer halls) and bedrooms. No matter what the physical environment looked like, I embraced teaching with the fervor of an artist. I learned and used different strokes (educational techniques) to help my students paint their minds with knowledge. Each year I was ever inspired by students ’acquisition of knowledge and mastery of skills from August to June. Their progress no matter the size provided me a sense of accomplishment. My students never left my class with a blank canvas.
During my acquisition of a Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins University in 2000, I developed a penchant for differentiated instruction. I believe that although, some students have the desire and tenacity to know more, they sometimes need a modified teaching style, to better assist them in being a successful learner. Some students are motivated by visual models other students are equally motivated by interactive models. Understanding what the student best responds to is the role of an effective teacher. While some children work well with groups, others do not. Many kids need constant reassurance, so for them the reward base technique works. Using a variety of teaching approaches is necessary when encouraging students. I view all students as individuals honoring their different learning styles and abilities.
It has been a blessing to have been actively engaged in teaching and learning for so many years. My view of learning, learners, teachers and teaching are constantly evolving. Both my students and I have benefited from this evolution.
Now in March 2016, I feel that flame for teaching and learning burning brightly than ever. It is fueled by my desires to want to give back to the profession, pursuance of a doctorate degree, and helping novice teachers become effective teachers. I believe every child in every corner of this world should have access to quality teaching. They all should have teachers who are passionate about their work. The problem of having quality teachers and quality education is particularly acute amongst the African Diaspora. That is why I am working with Khadija Gurnah, founder of the Project Ejaba, to bring awareness to this issue with the hope of improving teacher training and learning to African countries. I currently get to share my experiences and knowledge with other teachers as an adjunct professor at Coppin State University in the department of Teaching and Learning.
Finally, as I continue to reflect over my career and begin to transition into another aspect of education, I want to encourage others to become teachers. Teaching is fulfilling and rewarding. It taught me to appreciate the diversities found in people and in the creation. Teaching is my craft. It is my passion. This is what I do!