Teacher Stories: Rana and Amena - Anjar, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
This story was collected as part of Teachers in Crisis Contexts (TiCC) Event Series to ensure that the voices and experiences of teachers working in crisis and displacement permeate all aspects of the event. For more stories, click here.
Teaching in Crisis
Names: Amena and Rana
Location: Anjar, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
After being displaced from Syria to the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon, Amena continued her work as an educator. She has been working as a teacher in crisis since 2014. “We always face many challenges in our work with children. Especially in this profession. We find a lot of differences among the students we teach and deal with. They are coming from very different backgrounds [in Syria]. Even here, with the refugee situation...the crisis… there has been a lot of changes for these students. Many were forced to live in informal tent settlements where there is a deficiency in resources. This creates an environment where it is difficult to learn and teach. Even access to transportation can be an issue.”
“There is a challenge we can discuss when it comes to the well-being and living of the teacher [in a crisis situation]. The teacher can make a student’s life easier...but the teacher has to feel well enough so he/she can come to class and exude positivity amongst his/her students when interacting with them. Even to just make students feel safe. Because, of course, if as a teacher you feel safe, and you have someone supporting you and empowering you in your skills, of course this all is reflected onto the students in the classroom.”
“You, as a Syrian teacher let’s say, you are vulnerable to the Crisis. You are living like these students. Maybe you are living in the camps, or maybe you are living in relatively difficult conditions. So you need to have worked on yourself, you need to be acclimated to the situation,” says Rana. Rana was able to turn national and personal tragedies into a professional triumph through her work with Sonbola since the beginning of the Syrian Education Crisis. Rana started at Sonbola as a teacher and after proving her dedication to education, rose to become a coordinator of the Elementary Education program at Sonbola. She shares her experiences as a “Teacher in Crisis”.
Rana tells us that she has developed into a completely new educator since her first years of teaching: “I have completely rethought my approach to teaching itself, thanks to the training I received in pedagogy, as well as feedback from classroom observations that have been a part of the Sonbola experience. Teaching in a classroom filled with children who have faced trauma and war is very different than teaching in a regular public school.”
“I was lucky to be exposed to trainings through Sonbola. Many teachers who work in this context do not have this opportunity. One of the things I learned was that teachers need to find ways to help students feel safe and trust him/her. You also have to be committed to learning many different teaching strategies and tailor your approach to each child’s needs. Even the idea that learning isn’t just memorization and regurgitation of subject matter was something new to me. It’s not an easy task.”
“We have to forget the old ways of teaching.”
The views expressed in this blog are the author's own.