It goes without saying that teaching is hard work!
There are long hours involved in trying to figure out the best way to get your students the skills needed to tackle the world outside of the classroom. Whilst many teachers face issues such as budgeting problems and the struggle of handling large classes, one teacher tackles issues unique to her area.
Hanan Al Hroub is a Palestinian teacher who works with children routinely exposed to violence. Earlier this year, Hanan won the prestigious $1 Million global teacher prize naming her teacher of the year. When she went up to accept her award, Hanan spoke of the importance of the win for someone in her situation, saying “I am proud to be a Palestinian female teacher standing on this stage. I accept this as a win for all teachers in general and Palestinian teachers in particular.”
The environment for teachers and students in Palestine is a world away from the classrooms we see in our daily lives. Hanan explains the situation and how it affects the morale of her students, remarking “The situation is not encouraging for creativity. The question is, are you going to protect your life or are you going to be creative?”
She became a teacher after three of her children — a boy, 6, and twin girls, 9 — were shot at by Israeli soldiers in October 2000, at the beginning of the Second Intifada. The children were distressed, and began acting out at home, and “lost the will to go to school.”
Speaking to Newsweek, Al Hroub revealed her “play and learn” technique that she used to help traumatized refugee children. “I created a corner in my home with games. After that, I started to link their games with their subjects in the curriculum. I started to notice them improving, day by day.”
Al Hroub says the technique has improved the atmosphere in her classroom, saying “The classroom became a very important place for them. They respect the place. This behavior, which I want to reinforce in society, starts with the students in the classroom” she says.” She continued, “I make the link between what society needs and what I can do inside the classroom.”
The technique Al Hroub implemented increased trust between her and her students, and created a sense of community at a time in which they needed it the most.
One day Al Hroub brought money to school, and told her students that they could borrow it if they promised to return it when they could eventually do so. One day, when the money was stolen, the students established a monitoring buddy system to check who took the money. This built up a sense of closeness between her and her students which she cherishes. She now feels as though the classroom has an environment like no other.
“We are all of us, a team. This place we call class is our home. We are 29 students and me, 30 persons in this class, we are a family. Support each other, love each other,” she says. “I make them love this place.”
Hanan Al Hroub is the teacher we all need. Understanding, caring and invested in her student, Al Hroub is truly “Teacher of the Year.”