‘Teaching is about the mark you make on other people’s lives’

Dec 10, 2013 by

Saudi-born maths teacher Mohammad Rizvi explains how the legacy of his high school mentor inspired him to help other ESL students succeed

Trainee Mohammad Rizvi teaches maths to year 8 and 9 students at ARK Globe Academy in London. He became a teacher to help children like himself, struggling with English as a second language, succeed in life.

Miss Marquis was my mentor when I was 12 and she’s my mentor now as a teacher. My family moved to the UK from Saudi Arabia in 2001. When I started school here, I could read and write a little but didn’t have a great understanding of the English language. Thankfully, I had an amazing teacher called Miss Marquis who helped me get through it. The support she gave me was unbelievable. She pushed me all the way and gave me the right guidance.

During my teacher training with ARK I was given a place at Globe Academy in London as a maths teacher and when I saw that the head of the English faculty was Miss Marquis, my jaw dropped. It was the first time I had seen her since I was school and I was so happy. It was unbelievable.

I remember, in year 11 at our graduation party, she actually wrote something for me. It said “I know you’re going to be a success,” and that encouragement really made a difference. To this day, I haven’t forgotten those words.

I still can’t call her by her first name. The respect I have for her is still there. In one of the lessons I observed, she was reading the same book we used in our GCSEs and it took me back to when I was being taught by her. She is firm but also kind and you knew you could go to her and share your problems. At the same time, you would never mess about in her lesson. Misbehaving was simply not done. My aim as a teacher is to replicate that presence.

Teaching is about the mark you make on other people’s lives. If teachers hadn’t been there to shape my life and guide me, I don’t think I would have made it. They make such a huge difference to your life and I owe all of my achievements and success to my teachers. It’s the perfect career for someone who wants to give something back or have an impact on another person’s life.

I’ve worked in a few different schools during my training but I chose ARK because these schools give opportunities to children who may not be from the most affluent backgrounds. I am trying to have an impact and inspire these people. When I saw the difference I could make to their lives, that’s what made me realise I had made the right choice.

It doesn’t matter how many books you read, nothing can prepare you for your first lesson. I thought if I went into the class full of confidence, all the students would just love me and there wouldn’t be any issues. It wasn’t like that at all. I’d read all the theory about how to manage behaviour but a lot of it just goes out of your head when you walk into class because they’re not robots. They’re all unique individuals and you can’t control them. Just holding your hand up and counting down isn’t going to get them to be quiet and listen or behave by magic. You need to put the work in and build relationships with the students.

You always find something, no matter how small, that went well in class. One of my lessons was an absolute disaster. At the end of the class, there was a student left behind who was autistic. That person was smiling at the end of the lesson because he enjoyed the activity so much and that made my day. It didn’t matter how the rest of the lesson went, I had done something to change that person’s mood a little bit and give them a sense of achievement.

via ‘Teaching is about the mark you make on other people’s lives’ | Education | Guardian Professional.

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