Teacher Stories: Shakiba - Greece

Teacher Professional Development

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.

Ethnic Identity and Self-Esteem Development Among Young Adult Refugee Teachers: A Collaborative Teaching Model

Shakiba Jafari Name: Shakiba Jafari 

Role: Teacher

Location: Polykastro, Greece

Shakiba Jafari is a young Afghan woman who we recruited to participate in the collaborative OCC teaching model. She is an ambitious, kind, and vivacious teacher who would like to pursue a career in humanitarian law one day. Her community members know her to be dependable and trustworthy and for her maturity and calm affect when confronting problems. Every afternoon after her role as a teacher, she collects the young women in the Nea Kavala camp and organises a volleyball game, and the younger girls look up to her courage and confidence.

Shakiba is a co-teacher in the kindergarten sub-team and also leads sessions in the women’s space, a support group for refugee women. She shares that she has always liked being around little children but had never had experiences in building meaningful relationships with them. When she initially joined the team, the idea of managing large groups of young children seemed overwhelming. However, she was pleasantly surprised at her own growth and competency as a teacher. Joining the OCC team has given her the opportunity to feel like she can move beyond basic play and implement impactful educational approaches to build refugee children’s future, which she notes is an exciting part of being a teacher. She added that her favourite part about her role as a teacher is working alongside a multicultural group. The team camaraderie creates a warm environment for her as an Afghan woman, and she enjoys learning and helping others in her team learn and grow too. She likes to balance feeling comfortable in her own skin while learning about everyone else’s diverse experiences.  

Shakiba notes that the majority of the PD she has received has been from the Refugee Trauma Initiative, an educational NGO in Greece. These PD opportunities have spanned across teaching pedagogical approaches, student behavioural management, diverse learning styles, and fostering student agency. Shakiba emphasises that the most important lesson she has learned from the PD opportunities has been to foster a safe and secure environment in her kindergarten classrooms in the spirit of being trauma-informed. She explains that the teacher-student attachment is key to the students’ learning because it encourages motivation and engagement. Otherwise, she notes, “the students will not want to enter the classroom doors.” The only change in the collaborative teaching model she can think of is to increase access for more people. She explains that because of the transient nature of the environment, where large groups of people can receive their legal permits to travel in one setting, in some cases there is room to increase the number of people who are allowed to attend the sessions, especially from the camps. She would like to think of strategies to increase access for the women and children who may have still not had the opportunity to benefit from the OCC programs.  


The views expressed in this blog are the author's own.