Dayana Mansour is a second-year Fellow teaching English at Tahwitat Al Ghadir Public School in Mount Lebanon. Her drive stems from the purpose to aid refugee children by focusing on their psychological well-being and access to quality education.
Would you say the Fellowship gave you mental strength? Why?
Although the Summer Institute provided us with all the necessary trainings needed for a well-prepared teaching experience, becoming a “real” school teacher included a great number of unexpected challenges.
As a new teacher, having to combat hesitation and self-doubt definitely amplified my mental strength throughout the Fellowship. I found myself in a new foreign environment; fluctuating circumstances and different lessons learned taught me to embrace my vulnerabilities and grow resilience to make sure my students received the support they needed.
How did you surmount problems? What were they?
I came across different obstacles throughout the school year, some demanding harder work and others demanding empathy, patience and understanding. Many students had difficulties grasping a second language which not only required an all-inclusive lesson plan but also confidence-boosting activities and motivational speeches inside the classroom. Students who had given up on the English language needed both a shift in mindsets and a twist in the teaching style that brought the language closer to them.
Many students came from broken homes which is why their behaviors ranged between extreme defiance, nervousness, and inattention. Understanding the backgrounds of those students and what yielded such behaviors was much more effective than turning away from them. Some students went through painful events that were heartbreaking; it was important that I build personal emotional resilience in order to provide influential objective support to them.
Why was this a memorable life-experience?
I have learned from my students not much less than what they’ve learned from me and that’s what made this fellowship a memorable life experience. I’ve taught students who in the face of adversity, unstable living circumstances, and disorganized families still chose to commit to learning.
What advice would you give a first-year Fellow?
You will, at one point, ask yourself if whether or not you can live up to this responsibility; believe that you can! Always replace self-doubt with effort. Both the students and other teachers can benefit from your knowledge, so make sure you pledge to supporting them.
How did becoming a teaching Fellow make you a good leader?
Knowing that I was able to reach a number of students in multiple ways is equivalent to good leadership, in my opinion. I’ve observed the impact on some students, it went beyond the classroom walls. I’ve seen some students become more hopeful, some read their first words and others starting to believe in themselves. My purpose was to make students feel like they’re heard, and capable. That was achieved through creating a warm and welcoming classroom environment where no student felt unaided or overlooked.