Good teachers explain – Great teachers inspire

Souad Abi Ishak is in the second year of her Teach For Lebanon Fellowship, teaching theater at Al Nahda Public School for girls in Tripoli.

Souad’s passion is arts. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Radio TV and Film from the Lebanese International University (LIU). She joined TFL after graduating with the aim to make a difference in the educational field and to prove that learning with art is important.

“Via theater, I can give my students an opportunity to express their emotions. My aim is to build their confidence and show them that they are able to achieve much more than they think. My students at Al-Nahda are exclusively girls and many of them grew up in a rather conservative social setting; theater classes make a big difference in their lives”.

Souad has been a Red Cross volunteer since 2013, as a member of the Emergency medical team. Working with openness, honesty, respect and generosity, her volunteering work is in line with TFL’s core values which are empathy, commitment to equality and mutual responsibility.

“I was able to be the first responder for many medical emergencies at Al-Nahda. We also held a First Aid Training with the encouragement of the school principal.Souad 2

In the end, regardless of the services, the aim of the two organizations are the same, serving others without expecting anything in return”.

In her lessons, Souad uses drama activities and mixes fun sessions with more serious periods. This is challenging because the classes have to be adapted to the different age groups – Souad teaches students from 5 to 13 years – and each class comprises around 25 to 30 children.

“As teachers, we play an important role in students’ lives and are often confronted with their personal issues. It’s not only about educational purposes but also about being there for them on a personal level. TFL gave us the opportunity to be inspiring to others”.

Asked what benefit schools and students pull out of TFL Fellows, Souad highlights TFL’s innovative methodology which visibly induces energy and triggers outside-the-box thinking of students.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires”, William A. Ward.


My Internship with Teach For Lebanon

510b46a8-dc06-4b4d-ac97-71c1b5467351Ten weeks. This was the timeline for my internship with Teach for Lebanon and as well the time I had to explore Lebanon, a country to which I had never been before. I remember being very excited about the upcoming adventure!

The TFL Team welcomed me very warmly and integrated me from the first day. I quickly learned the basic principle of Teach for Lebanon: training the most promising graduates and placing them into schools with less privileged children to generate benefits for both sides. The values taught – like active citizenship or gender equality – go beyond the regular schedule of the schools and help the students to believe in themselves and to make the best out of their multiple talents. The TFL mission shapes indeed the future generation of the country and I felt from the very beginning that both, the TFL Team and the Fellows are passionate about their mission.

During my internship I learned what it means to work in an NGO, I got to know the different work areas and could contribute my experience from Germany, where I am managing refugee settlements. Apart from that I certainly did witness an exceptional period of time in Lebanon, as the “thawra” broke out. It was the first word I could read in Arabic and it should influence my whole stay in Lebanon. Besides a lot of stunning and impressing experiences I made, it also meant, that schools were closed for weeks and work couldn’t continue as normal.

Even though it was an exceptional period in terms of politics, I had the chance to visit the country a little bit. I marveled at the archaeological sites in Byblos, went through the Souk in Tripoli and had a very good lemonade in Batroun while sitting on the Phoenician wall. On many weekends I went hiking and discovered the beautiful landscape in Lebanon – especially walking through Qadisha Valley and seeing nature in all its autumn colors was amazing!Franzsica PicBy my first walks through Beirut I noticed how peacefully Muslims and Christians live together, both of them being part of the rich history of this country for a long time. Church bells ring and the Muezzin sings and both is perfectly normal to everyone. I realized I hadn’t expected this and more painful, I hadn’t experienced this before.
Mosque and Church neighboring harmonious in the very center of the city. It could be so easy.

I am very grateful for the time I had in Lebanon for many reasons. The TFL Team has a big part in that with being very open; sharing their reflections on Lebanon with me, and – most important – introducing me to the Lebanese cuisine! Thank you very much & “merci kteer”, I head back to Germany with lots of beautiful memories and will keep you in my heart!1d27abbf-918f-4a6f-84d7-47de07b4c142

The internship was facilitated in cooperation with the German institute ifa (Institut fuer Auslandsbeziehungen).

My Work with TFL – By Nick Boke

Nick Boke and Farah Aboumaita, Teach For Lebanon Education Manager

It was a lovely October day when Ali Dimashkieh and I met at Roadster in Hamra.

I’d read about Teach for Lebanon, then in its first year, in the Daily Star. Fascinated by the concept, I sent Ali, conceptualizer and founder of TFL, an email.

I was teaching history and English at ACS for a semester and had some free time. Maybe I could help?
See, I’d been involved in a similar Teacher Corps internship program—as what TFL calls a Fellow—several decades before, working with African American kids in a small city in West Virginia.
Like every conversation with Ali, this one was full of energy, hope and possibility.
As we wrapped things up he said he’d get in touch.

And indeed, he did, inviting me to offer an evening of training for the Fellows. I agreed, and met the group in their office in Beirut. We discussed, I think, Formative Assessment. The Fellows were interested and interesting, full of the same energy and inquisitiveness that Ali had projected. Then I left Lebanon, returning a year later. Again, I offered my services. Again, he invited me to help, so I provided several workshops for the cohort of new Fellows during the next Summer Institute in Saida.
It was all very pleasant. Pleasant and rewarding.

A few months later, however, just before a celebratory dinner where my wife—who had joined me at ACS—and I were to meet TFL staff, board members and Fellows, the TFL world fell apart.
Ali had been hit by an unknown but incapacitating illness. What would happen to Ali? What would happen to TFL?
Since Ali didn’t seem to be getting any better, everyone was asking these questions, staff, board members and Fellows. The question was all the more urgent because there didn’t seem to be enough money to train and pay for another cohort. The staff started looking for work. It was hard to blame them, but it did seem a shame to let this promising organization fall apart just when it was gaining momentum. Moreover, a small group of Lebanese ex-pats living in the US was creating TFL-US, which would probably be able to add significantly to the organization’s coffers. But it would take a while to cross all those bureaucratic t’s and dot those i’s.
It turned out that there was enough money provide the current cohort with a second year, but not enough to start up a new cohort.

Hey, how about this?
TFL wouldn’t recruit a new cohort, but I’d round up some volunteers to meet with the second-year Fellows four or five times during the school year to maintain their momentum and keep the program alive. Maybe TFL-US would wrap up its paperwork and start raising money.
Maybe we could save the organization.

Salyne, the only staff member to hang on, agreed. Ali agreed.
So I asked a couple of ACS colleagues if they could give a few hours on a half-dozen Saturdays to keep things moving, offering trainings in whatever interested them.
So Wade and Andrea and I began meeting with the dozen or so Fellows. We spent the first part of each meeting debriefing about what they’d been learning, wondering about, coping with, and hoping for. Then we provided some training.

About half-way through the year we asked the teachers to develop an Action Research question that they’d like to study in their classrooms, and the Saturday workshops began to focus on what they were beginning to learn about their questions. Somewhere along the way, word came from Charbel Tagher, the Lebanese-American businessman who made TFL-US possible, that TFL-US was up and running and was attracting a fair amount of funding. Salyne organized a Summer Institute for a new cohort.
Ali was, very slowly, getting better, but was nowhere near ready to pick up the leadership reins, so Salyne agreed to run the operation. Ali asked if I would work as teacher trainer.

My relationship with this fledgling operation—the dream of a man who had seen Lebanon’s public schools at first hand and realized that something needed to be done—had morphed and blossomed.
But mainly, TFL had survived.

Nicholas Boke is currently an international education consultant working in the Middle East and Africa, including a variety of projects in Lebanon. He lived in Beirut in the late 1950s, attending the American Community School before moving to Rio, then studying at the University of California at Berkeley. He has worked as a classroom teacher, journalist, family and adolescent literacy expert and now lives with his wife, Buffy, in Providence, Rhode Island.

Teach For Lebanon Cohort 8 Alumna goes to Mexico with Teach For All and the Oak Foundation

Cohort 8 Alumna Lubna Al Majthoub took part in the Oak foundation’s event in Mexico: “Reaching all Learners” which involved 16 teachers from the Teach For All network.
The objective of the event was to learn about meta-cognitive strategies in the classroom and how to apply them.

“It was an amazing experience. I got the chance to meet teachers from all over the world! We learned about different educational systems, visited schools in Mexico and shared thoughts and ideas with people who live on the other side of the world from us, but share the same vision of Educational Equity.
I came back with a refreshed mind, new ideas, and knowledge to share and apply in my community. This event helped me understand that Education never ends, and that every day we can learn new things no matter how much we have learned already.
I am now more eager to learn and share. Also, I am very proud of my country as we were the only country from the Middle East represented.
I am very thankful for Teach For Lebanon and what it means to be a TFL Alumna.
When people ask me how I feel now that my fellowship has ended, I tell them it never will. Once a TFLer, always a TFLer!”

Lubna is now a caseworker with INTERSOS for Gender Based Violence cases in the Beqaa, and she’s also still teaching as a second shift teacher for Refugees at an intermediate school.


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Meet Our Fellows: Ghadeer Saghir

Name: Ghadeer El-Saghir
School: Sahaguian-Levon Meguerditchian College
Education: Mathematics (LIU), English Literature (LU)
Hometown: Beirut
Hobbies: Reading, Writing

What inspired you to join Teach for Lebanon? What was the main reason that made you join the program?
Unlike the majority of Lebanon’s organizations, Teach for Lebanon has a mission to accomplish and a vision to truly work on. I was still a junior year student when TFL made a seminar at my university. I thought this is what I want to be part of when I graduate; an active member of a professional, kind-hearted society with an educational goal to reach. Apart from this, TFL was overwhelmingly promising in terms of character-development.

What are you hoping to accomplish with your students?
I am hoping to make my students active members in the Lebanese society, by trying to fill the language gap. Along with plenty other personal-level activities, extra-curricular activities and educational strategies, they will be ready to face any societal challenge and make a change in it. I am very excited to start my two-year journey; I can feel it will give me the great privilege of inspiring little souls, and I am looking forward to make a change.

What excites you most about teaching in Lebanon?
The most exciting part is that it is challenging. Teaching in Lebanon triggers all sides of a personality; it tests patience, knowledge, social abilities and definitely the educational part. All these wrapped up under one platform: the privilege of teaching.

What are your future and professional goals or targets?
My target is to focus on the two years ahead. The main goal will be being able to make a change, I will fully dedicate my time to try being the teacher my students have always dreamed of.

The Hult Prize

The Hult Prize Foundation, in partnership with President Bill Clinton and Banque du Liban, has launched a ground-breaking national level entrepreneurship and innovation program in Lebanon. The aim of this program is to  empower University students to have a unique opportunity to compete for a local prize and the USD $1 Million Global Prize at the 2017 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York.

The 2017 Hult Prize “President’s Challenge” is “Refugees – Reawakening Human Potential”. It focuses on restoring the rights and dignity of people and societies who may be, or are forced into motion due to social injustice, politics, economic pressure, climate change and war. They also work to restore the rights and dignity of those currently living in informal / illegal settlements.

Ola Al Samhoury, a Teach For Lebanon Alumna, is part of a team who participated in the Hult event at the Lebanese American University (LAU). The team members Ahlam Al Omari, Asmaa El Ladan and Ola Al Samhouri presented an idea for a social enterprise that empowers refugees by allowing them to take control over their lives and health. Among other teams from LAU, her team won the first place and will represent LAU at the semi-final regional event in Duba! Final presentations will be held on March 4th after going through training sessions on March 3rd!

“Our passion to empower the refugees is what united and motivated us to work towards the benefit of our community. I can’t but thank Teach for Lebanon for empowering me to improve my leadership skills throughout my fellowship program. During the second year, I taught Syrian refugees who suffered from several health problems due to the deprivation of their basic rights. Whenever I reflect back on my teaching experience, I remember how much they enjoyed learning and how motivated they used to be to achieve their dreams, regardless of the obstacles that they faced on daily basis.

As an active member in society, I want to target the health aspect which is one of the building blocks for having a descent life.

A Journey that Never Ends- Mohamad Alameh- Alumnus

It all started two years ago, when I was accepted to take a leadership position as a Teach For Lebanon Fellow. Teaching for two years in a challenging environment and being able to leave a positive impact on my students and my colleagues at school developed my leadership skills. Once the Fellowship was over, I was admitted to the Masters in Business Administration at The American University in Beirut. These acquired leadership skills from my Fellowship enabled me to become the first president of the MBA Students Society and gave me the chance to enjoy my MBA journey.

The MBA Students Society aims to ensuring a unique experience for MBA students by planning entertaining events. MBA students can enjoy their time while developing their soft skills. In addition, the Society aims at organizing professional events where regional speakers can share their struggles and recommendations regarding the business world. Some of the prospective topics are: Entrepreneurship, Women Leadership and PhD programs. Finally, the Society aims at finding solutions side-by-side with the Business School at AUB to provide wider education opportunities for MBA students and rise to international levels.

A final Thank you goes to Ms. Maya El Helo, the Director of Graduate Programs at Olayan School of Business, whose mentorship and enthusiasm aided my success in reaching where I am now.Mohamad Alameh

Effective Classroom Management Activity- By Afaf El Khoury


20161024_123901-1-1-2Being a successful teacher requires good problem solving skills. The fact of having 32 students in grade one drove me crazy. The mission starts where problems arise. Kids talking, misbehaving, moving around, etc. Only few wanted to learn and listen. Being a second-year Fellow, I believe in my abilities and my skills to manage a chaotic classroom. After setting the rules and discussing them with my students on daily basis, the class became much better. However, this wasn’t enough to maintain a peaceful classroom for the whole session. High achievers started to finish their tasks and telltale. Low achievers slept or chatted. Chaos was everywhere while some truly focused on the activities given. My creativity and productivity fell into hands.

I needed to find a way to solve my problem, so I invented what so called an “Activity basket” and “collector basket”. The procedure was the following: every time a student finishes his task, he checks whether the activity basket is free. If yes, the student move silently and choose either an activity-sheet or a white paper. Meanwhile, his peers complete their work. When he’s done with the activity-sheet, the student must place it in the collector basket. My role is to collect the sheets from this basket every Friday. Points will be given to those who followed the procedure without causing any mess in the classroom. At the end of the semester, a reward is granted to the students who deserve it depending on the number of points they obtained. This way, I was able to ensure quality time and a well-managed classroom within a given framework.


Colorful Dreams

By Farah Mhanna, Cohort 6 Fellow

May 18th, 2015

Nader Association is an orphanage that aims to protect and educate children with serious social problems. These children are at risk of delinquency, and this association provides them with shelter and care. When I first came to Nader Association, I noticed the aggressive attitude of most of the students. This is because they come from a difficult socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. Some students are orphans, others live at the orphanage because their parents can’t afford taking care of them.

As a Teach For Lebanon Fellow, my mission is to help these children not only on the academic level, but on the human level as well.

To enhance their sense of creativity, I decided to lead a painting project “Paint and Learn” to help the students change their vision towards the world and towards the core values in life. I wanted them to see the colorful side of life.

Together we painted the school playground walls with colorful drawings about the values, and I gave the students the opportunity to unleash their imagination and to participate in decorating their playground ( stairs, wheels)

I have planned and managed the project, and with the collaboration of the talented artists team of AIE Tripoli club, the project was successfully implemented.

The school administration was unable to cover the costs of the project, and I had no time to find a fundraiser. I decided to take charge of the financial support.

It was the first time I see my students energetic and enthusiastic about something. There weren’t fights during the recess. They were playing together or looking at the painted walls and discussing the paintings. It was the first time I felt that I could really touch their minds.

Every long-term impact needs time to be noticed. I think I have taken the right decision when I  chose the colors to be the seeds of happiness and hope for children.