A Teacher in Jordan Makes a Difference Every Day

By Ala’ Hasan and Lama Saqr

October 4, 2013   |   0 comments

Sixth-grade students in Muhannad Neewashi’s class work in groups during an Arabic lesson. Photo by: Ala’ Hassan

The first time Muhannad Neewashi stepped in front of the fifty fidgeting students in his classroom, he felt overwhelmed. Trying to engage so many children in productive learning activities would be a challenge even for an experienced teacher. But Neewashi was a brand new Arabic teacher at Omar Bin Abdul-Aziz School in Irbid, Jordan. He wondered what teaching methods he could come up with that would be effective with so many pupils at once.

On World Teachers Day, Creative Associates International is honoring teachers like Neewashi, who gamely stand in front of too many students, in too-small classrooms, with too few materials to do what they do best: shape young minds with the knowledge and skills they’ll need to succeed in the world.

Teachers who are motivated to change lives find ways around all sorts of obstacles. And Neewashi was nothing if not motivated.

He seized the opportunity to attend extensive professional development training through USAID’s Education Reform Support Program, managed by Creative.

With on-site support from experienced coaches, he learned modern teaching methods including information communications technology and techniques for classroom management.

The professional development program is being offered to more than 5,000 educators in Jordan.

At the end of the training, Neewashi felt confident in his new skills and volunteered to demonstrate a student-centered lesson, despite his unwieldy class size and limited resources.

On the assigned date for the demonstration, Neewashi’s colleagues and trainers arrived at his classroom, surprised to see just 25 students there.

The teacher had divided them into two groups and sent the first to the computer lab, where they were working on an online project and writing a report about their findings. The second group received classroom instruction with Neewashi on composition and debate. Then the groups would switch places.

“I wish all our lessons were like this one,” said one of Neewashi’s sixth-grade students at the demonstration. “We learned a lot and also had fun.”

“It is the best lesson we have ever had,” said another.

After the lesson, the teachers discussed the lesson and exchanged feedback. They recognized Neewashi for finding a creative way to apply modern teaching methods like collaborative learning despite having such an overcrowded classroom and limited equipment.

“If we have a strong will and a little creativity, we can overcome all challenges and make a difference in our classrooms every day,” Neewashi says.

This story was contributed by ChangeAgent for Arab Development & Education Reform (CADER), a partner of Creative’s ERSP Program.