I was a teacher for the first time and I watched helplessly as students fell through the cracks.
In a room half full sat some very concerned teachers. I hadn’t expected even that many teachers so I was pleasantly surprised. As a seasoned presenter at the ISNA Education Forum, I was aware of the general workings of the education workshops. I would present my paper and then take some questions.
What I was not prepared for was the genuine concern and helplessness that I felt emanating from the teachers gathered there. Teachers were frustrated because they were ill-equipped to handle the situations in their classrooms, and they had minimal assistance financially, administratively, or from parents. I recognized those feelings.
Almost eight years before, I was a teacher for the first time and I watched helplessly as students fell through the cracks. I went and completed my B.Ed in the hopes that it would give me the skills I needed to reach these students. It wasn’t until I was doing my masters in special education that I was able to develop a repertoire of skills – a special education tool box, if you will – that helped me in reaching the students who needed a hand moving up and out of the hole they had fallen in.
In the March/April 2012 issue of Islamic Horizons, an article is devoted to special education in Muslim schools. A presentation by notable individuals in the field was scheduled at a Muslim school in Tennessee. And just last week, Br Ibrahim Baig opened the doors of this difficult but necessary discussion. There is an awareness being generated that Muslim schools must address the needs of students with special needs. They cannot be turned away or tuned out.
The purpose of my contributions to this blog is to continue to raise awareness and provide teaching methods that harness the talent of our students while taking into account their individual needs. It is not impossible, and it is not hopeless. It will be frustrating and require a lot of patience, but it is possible.