At the Global Education Skill Forum in Dubai, one of the things that I noticed was the overwhelming devotion of teachers to their profession and their students. I have encountered many wonderful and caring teachers throughout my career as a student, but I was overwhelmed with the passion for teaching that many of these teachers exhibited during the conference. These teachers also display this passion even in times of significant adversity. Many of the top ten finalists for the Global Teacher Prize taught their students in challenging times; some of them even risking their lives in the name of education.
Mr. Azizullah Royesh, a teacher from Afghanistan and a finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, started facing adversity at 12. He was forced to leave Afghanistan when the Soviet Union invaded. The last words his father told him were ”I wish that you stay alive.”
After fleeing to Pakistan, he started teaching at the age of 16 so that he could share his literacy with the other refugees. Throughout his career as a teacher, he also was faced with stressful situations. In one situation, many of his female students were protesting a controversial law passed by the clerics. The clerics, who drafted the law, stormed his school, tried to burn it, and called for his execution. He later moved back to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban regime.
Mrs. Phalla Neang, a teacher from Cambodia and a finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, opened up a school for the blind and deaf. In Cambodia, people with disabilities are regarded as having sinned in a former life, and are persecuted and shunned by society. Many of them receive no quality education.
Mrs. Neang has opened up five schools across Cambodia to give blind and deaf people the opportunity to have an education, and also to educate the people of Cambodia of the worth of people with disabilities in society. She works ceaselessly to give her students a quality education, and when students don’t show up, she visits them to check on them.
All great teachers share a common characteristic: A devotion to their profession and their students. This devotion was prevalent among all teachers attending the GESF conference. In a panel discussion at the conference, one question was, “what makes for an effective teacher?” The most common answer was that for a teacher to be effective, they need to be passionate and devoted to their job, and dedicated to their students.
The Winner of the Global Teacher Prize: Nancie Atwell
Nancie Atwell, the winner of the Global Teacher Prize, said that in her classroom, she allows her students to make decisions about what they want to read. She enables them to pursue their passions in literature. She is very committed to her pupils, allowing their voices to be heard in the curriculum and letting them have more control over their education. Mrs. Nancy is one of those teachers who is not content with a paycheck, she wants to see real results in her craftsmanship. She shapes and molds her students with her immersive literature curriculum, and makes a lasting impact on all of her students.
Thank You Teachers for Your Devotion
In order to change lives and change the world, teachers must be devoted to their profession. As an attendant of the GESF conference, I can testify that all teachers present do not only have a devotion to their job, but have a passion for it that defines them as human beings. Because teachers are devoted to their job, world leaders are created, doctors are made, and the world becomes a better place. Thank you, teachers of the world, for your devotion to me and all my fellow students.
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