Changing Lives Through Education
Every other Saturday during the academic year ISKL teachers from each division, representing every subject, can be found off campus at a refugee learning center in Ampang Point. Collectively, they spend the morning sharing their knowledge and skills with a group of dedicated, motivated, and inspirational teachers who teach refugee students at centers across Kuala Lumpur.
“Teachers Teaching Teachers” is a homegrown idea started in early 2017 by Ms. Suji DeHart, ISKL’s Elementary School Librarian. Ms. DeHart developed the initiative in order to support and upskill teachers at refugee schools who are responsible for teaching students aged between 4 and 21 years. Over two years, with the assistance of former ISKL teachers Lyn and Lucy Thompson, the informal sessions have evolved into structured workshops with ISKL teachers teaching up to 40 teachers on a regular basis.
Ms. DeHart explains, “The refugee teachers come from a range of different centers and are truly inspiring. Many have limited practical classroom experience and some have no formal teaching qualifications but all are united in their desire to help their students learn and hopefully find a better life path through education”.
“Their students are refugees from countries across the globe. They come to school with disparate educational backgrounds, motivation levels, and a range of mother-tongues; all of which adds to the complexity of their role as a teacher. Add to the mix limited resources and training and you have a pretty challenging teaching environment. This amazing group of refugee teachers, however, are undaunted and totally focused on how to best help their students learn. In addition to imparting subject content, their goal is to inspire learning and help students develop skills and behaviors which will support them in the future. Some of their students go on to take the academically rigorous International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) which is an amazing achievement in itself without taking into consideration the difficulties their students face every day”.
The Saturday morning workshops cover a range of topics from traditional core subjects such as English, math, science, and humanities through to design thinking, movement, music, and counseling. ISKL teachers also share their expertise and experience about how to build a classroom community, differentiate learning programs and create lesson plans. The workshops are designed to give the teachers practical ideas which can easily be implemented back in the classroom.
Ms. Tina Casey, a High School English teacher at ISKL, volunteers at the center and has found the time spent teaching teachers incredibly rewarding, “Education has the power to change lives and offer students hope and a way forward. Our role as teachers teaching teachers encompasses far more than how to teach subject content. The ultimate goal is to help shape thinking about how their students learn. We provide practical support and advice on how to motivate and empower students to become independent learners, collaborators and critical thinkers. These are all highly valued skills that will last their students a lifetime”.
Ms. Casey adds, “The refugee teachers do an amazing job with limited resources. Their dedication and commitment to teaching is inspirational. Personally I have found it a hugely rewarding experience to share ISKL’s philosophy about learning, and help support these remarkable teachers inspire a generation of students who have had a tough start in life”.
Teachers Teaching Teachers highlights the power of affecting positive change in the local community. All those who are involved in the workshops, whether teaching or being taught, are united in their support of a generation of students on a learning journey which will hopefully lead to a more empowered future.
From August 2019 onwards, Mr. Alan Ward (ISKL Elementary School teacher) and Ms. Trina Cobbledick (ISKL Middle School Learning Resource teacher) will take responsibility for leading and organizing Teachers Teaching Teachers.