To my younger-self teacher…

” If leaves stayed green all through the year, who would have experience the beauty of autumn?” Umm Maymanah

As I reflect on my journey as an educator, I truly can’t believe how I got through it, all prasie is due to Allah, Alhamdulillah! It all started in 2007 after graduating as a teacher, I had no clue what I was doing or why was I even a teacher. What I knew is that my heart inclined me to teach. Those years were full of confusion, disappointments, successes and earning good money!

Now that I am older and focused on my goals, I feel the need to share imperative messages to my younger-self teacher. I pray that it will serve as a point of learning to the young educators or anyone who might learn from this article.

Dear Ruqayyah (that’s how I call my younger-self 👧🏽)

  1. You are carrying the legacy of the Prophet (s.a.w), you better get serious with what you are teaching those kids! Often times, we tend to underestimate the powerful role we play as teachers in our communities. We mindlessly teach without realizing that our students look up to us. They spend most of their time with us then they do with other members of their families.
  2. Yes, you are a great teacher. That doesn’t mean everyone will appreciate you. Do your God given job and move on. This is a bitter truth that many educators don’t want to hear. We live in a world where we only get motivated when appreciated, or else we don’t feel motivated to do! It doesn’t work that way. You are teaching because you have been hired to do so. Your salary should be justified by you doing our job right!
  3. You aren’t a teacher so you can dump your unresolved personal trauma/issues on your students. Yes, you read that right! It is important for you to be stable emotionally and mentally so that you show up for your students and cater for their needs! You can’t pour from an empty jug. Learn the art of seeking for help and sorting out your personal issues. It will make a world of difference in the way you deal with personal and professional life.
  4. Constructive criticism about your teaching practice doesn’t define who you are, it is simply feedback to help you improve in your practice. When you learn to listen and take feedback positively, you’ll see yourself blooming in your class. See feedback like a making beef stew. You’ll keep tasting it at every stage of cooking until you get the satisfaction. That’s how it works, that feedback is not meant to tell you how bad you are but to show you how much potential you have to being a great teacher!

That is what I tell my younger-self teacher. Many of you have gone through similar experiences that some still carry with them while others have embraced a better mindset. Being a teacher is a lot more than showing up in class with a red pen, whiteboard marker and your textbook, it is about winning the hearts of your students, giving room for yourself to bloom and be better each lesson. If you have been struggling to swallow the pill of growth, today can be your day to a better you.

What would you tell your younger-self teacher? Looking forward to reading your revelations!


Rukiya Issa

Rukiya Issa is a Teacher coach who leads an Islamic school and the founder of Hopeful Muslim Teacher (HMT). She is pursuing her Bachelors of Education(Arts) and aims to empower Muslim teachers to show-up with confidence, clarity and purpose. She holds a Diploma in Educational Leadership, primary teacher certificate and is also a certified professional life Coach. Rukiya believes that academics, Teacher mindset, skills and teacher growth are not only a fundamental part of student success but are also the building blocks to attain a life long impact in building a holistic child. In addition to leading a school, she runs an online madrasa program with the aim of making Islamic education accessible to all. She has been recognised for her innovative teaching and learning approaches in all her teaching positions in different schools. Furthermore, her exceptional approach to leading change in Ar Risalah Academy, currently the Principal, was evidently recognised by the School board of Directors. Rukiya has been engaged in variety of voluntary projects in education like; - Islamic Curriculum Development at Maahad Teachers' Training College Nairobi, Kenya. - Lesson Plan Integration Project with Dr Bilal Philips - Islamic Studies Teacher at Maryam Center, Doha, Qatar.

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