During my tenure at Scott’s Branch High School in Summerton, South Carolina, I met a wonderful person, Ms Ann Blackman. Even though she was not my official mentor, she acted in that capacity. She made my stay in the United States enjoyable and comfortable. Her family accepted me and included in all family events. I was overjoyed to act as her host while she was in Egypt. While in Egypt, she became part of my extended family. My family welcome her and she acted as if she was she was born Egyptian. She certainly did her homework and accepted our culture. She was able to navigate her way through the small streets with ease. While in Egypt, we traveled to Alexandria, Cairo, and Zifta. We took in all of the tourist sites and visited areas where tourist seldom travel. She was a trooper.
Ms. Blackman had the opportunity to tour Omar Makram Secondary School for Boys where she was able to meet every teacher and tour each department. The teachers and students accepted Ms. Blackman and everyone wanted a picture with the American. She was able to coteach two lessons in English Language. She was warmly greeted and was invited to teach again. All of the visiting teachers made positive comments about Ms. Blackman’s teaching ability and the ease in which she was able to converse with Egyptians.
Ms. Blackman was guest lecturer and guest trainer at Beheira In-Service Training center . She taught for several hours and interacted with twenty Egyptian teachers. She was successful and well received. After the lecture, she worked on the computer using ICDL and gave comments on a new computer interactive science program. After working, the entire work days, she was invited to socialize at a Social Club in Damanhour. Abdelhadi Ali hosted Ms. Blackman in Cairo. They toured Giza and Cairo. She enjoyed the sites of the city.
Ms. Blackman, Ali, and I would like to wish all Teachers for Critical Languages in America great success with their assignments and successful grant writing.
Have a look at any job advertisement in a magazine or a paper and you will always read this phrase or one with a similar meaning:” The potential applicant must possess essential leadership skills.” But what is meant by leadership? Do I have to be a strong and a rare person with a very powerful charisma who can make decisions and give orders to many followers to be a leader? If you think this way, then you are on the wrong track for this is not my purpose.
I mean by “leadership”, the ability of a person to work well with others — as part of a team ,the capacity for nurturing others and bringing out their best talents, the quality to both express empathy and compassion for others and educate others about the importance of these feelings, and the talent for encouraging different viewpoints while upholding one’s core values and principles.
Leadership in South Carolina’s Schools System
Leadership is the second standard set by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the Regional accreditation agency for an 11-state region. No school should get its accreditation unless it shows that it really adopts leadership at all levels and gives indications of that.
Leadership in My Host Community
The American community is characterized by its mobility and activity. Most people are involved in some event or other. Look for example to the societies and charities concerned with the welfare of the old, the homeless, the patient and the less fortunate and you will get an idea of how the American citizen adopts this concept, namely leadership.
Upon arrival at my new host community, I decided to be an active member. I registered in one of the organizations interested in aiding those suffering from Alzheimer. I was not satisfied with just being there at their activities. Instead, I took part in organizing a number of them like “A Walk for Alzheimer’s”, “ A ride for Life” as well as “ the banquet on Thanksgiving Day”. Add to that, I was an active member in many other events like festivals, parties, social events, concerts, blood drive, fund raising and others.
Leadership in my School
I believe that any teacher has a tremendous impact on the students’ education, I was convinced that I had to improve my leadership skills in order to be qualified to develop my students’. For that purpose I was grateful to welcome any event that I knew it would contribute to my qualities. Actually my task was easy since the school administration took care of much of the work. I was invited as a member of the teaching staff to take an active part in most of the school activities, some of which include parent orientation, parent visitation, open house, banquets as well as a lot of other social, cultural and sport activities. The staff meetings were a favorable situation where everybody experienced leadership. No decision was taken individually. We all had to work together and come up with what served our school best. I even attended one of the district board meetings to observe how decisions are made at the district level.
I was lucky to benefit from the various training seminars and workshops held at the school or at the district office. Some of these sessions dealt with leadership and how we could implant it in our students.
Leadership Through Student Organizations
Student organizations contain many such opportunities for leadership development. In fact, think of what would happen if a student group consciously adopted the shared leadership model and conducted leadership development for members as part of the ongoing work of the group. In that respect, I was keen on reestablishing the Arabic Club where students could practice some leadership skills. Elections were made and roles were distributes, everyone knew what their responsibilities were. I think it was also an effective way to learn the language and the culture and at the same time enjoying funny activities such as cooking, singing, watching movies, playing games, etc. Another student group I enjoyed working with was the school soccer team. Actually I was not the head coach. I just helped my colleague in training the players. Again it was a good leadership practice.
Leadership in the Classroom
I think I tried to do my best to nurture my students and bring out their best talents. For that purpose I applies the most effective techniques I got or I learned from the professional workshop and conferences to make them appreciate achievement, co-operation, self-esteem, respect, etc. I tried to help them help them enjoy learning and develop their skills. Some of my techniques included individual, pair and group work, projects, case studies, cultural criticism, games, songs, puzzles, experiential learning. Indeed I made good use of the technology available in my classroom.
What Is Next?
I believe that my experience here was not an end. Instead it is the beginning of doing something more accurate than I used to do before coming here. In fact, I reflected on my home experience and I could find out some gaps that can be filled up with a little patience, perseverance, and innovation. I am ready now to use more effective techniques, more advanced technology, and more enjoyable activities. What is more important is that I have a real wish to help my students become good leaders and consequently appreciate commitment to dignity, equality, democracy, and good values in human beings.
What a wonderful spring break it was! I enjoyed spending good time with an Indian family and with one of my colleagues in Charleston, the bride of South Carolina. First we went downtown where we saw the beautiful old style buildings and could feel the scent of the civil war. We had lunch in a Chinese restaurant. Then we toured a couple of terrific parks. After that, we allowed ourselves to walk peacefully along the beach of the ocean. Finally, we ended our trip with a visit to Charleston Harbor where we experienced the great historic atmosphere of the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum .
SWCOLT is a regional foreign language teachers’ organization that hosts an annual conference in partnership with state foreign language teacher associations. I was lucky enough to get the approval of the TCLP to use my professional development fund to cover the cost of attending this valuable conference. The conference was held for three days. It offered a choice of 10 workshops on Thursday April 8, 40 sessions on April 9, and 40 sessions on April 10. Besides, there was two halls designated for many publishers and post makers. The sessions focused on teaching foreign languages; techniques, challenges, technology, etc. Most of the presenters were young teachers who came up with great ideas and showed deep experience. I was really impressed, and as a result made a commitment to find a way to hold a regional conference for my fellow teachers in my hometown in Egypt.
The second stage in my terrific break was in the state of Arizona where we decided to see the Grand Canyon. It was a six-hour drive from Albuquerque, NM. However, we spent two more hours touring the traditional Indian stores and villages on our way. We arrived there at about 6.00 pm, local time. We spent another two hours admiring the canyon and the park surrounding it. Actually, we were overwhelmed by the desire to go down the canyon but there was no way to do so since it was very cold and of course dark. However, it was enough a satisfaction just to think how an individual river (Colorado River) could take 2 billion years to carve this 277 mile gorge. It is strange that this marvelous attraction was not considered as one of the wonders of the world.
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