Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

Dear colleagues,

We at Safar have something for you to think about as we edge closer to a new academic year: how is your maktab doing in terms of progress and effectiveness?  We at Safar – like many maktabs around the world – think about this question a lot. In testing ourselves, one quick measure amongst many is to check how our students are describing their learning experience.

In 2016, we began something, alhamdulillah, to help deliver for students the experience that maktab = stimulating. Like many other maktabs, we are sure stimulating was one of the words you envisioned when you embarked on the honourable task of educating the next generation.

So, would your students describe their maktab experience as being stimulating mentally, spiritually and in terms of personal development?

What we set-up to help achieve this was a portal containing resources and ideas to help teachers deliver learning in a stimulating way. This portal is the Safar Teacher’s Toolbox, an area of ongoing development for us as part of our support services.

Our biggest helpers in this space are teachers like yourself, who create the resources and think up the ideas to share with others. This is exactly what the Teacher’s Toolbox is for: to not only use when teaching the Safar syllabi but to also use for sharing resources that promote active learning.

What is Active Learning?

There are multiple ways to think about active learning. Compare a level of teaching where students simply learn facts such as that not performing salah is disobedience of Allāh (swt). A deeper level of learning is where a student is able to explain what salah is, how it came about, think about reasons for why it’s important, argue the positive aspects of Salah and explain negative consequences of no salah, as well as, importantly, embody Salāh through practice and the effort of perfecting its performance.

The second level of learning is what active learning is supposed to deliver. Thus, active learning approaches teaching from a place that requires more from the students; more than just listening, repeating or soaking up information. It is a more holistic, enriching learning experience.

So, as you prepare to return to your maktabs for the forthcoming academic year, we invite you to think about how you can achieve this in your classrooms. To help you along the way, here are a few things we’ve picked for you:

    1. Want some training on this? Start with this module

2. Want to use some activities that promote active learning? Here’s a quick list. There are more in our Teacher’s Guides:

• Dialogue
• Debate
• Writing something in their own words or creative writing
• Problem-solving exercises
• Analysis activities
• Evaluation tasks where students need to compare things or pick our differences/similarities.
• Creation – e.g., making things, presenting information in new ways, building models, making animations and so forth.

Finally, continue your good work and remember us in your duʿāʾs as we do our best to build the tools and support for all those on the journey of becoming inspiring teachers. And when you do create a good resource that really works? Go ahead and upload it on to the Teacher’s Toolbox to inspire others. And if you have ideas? Again, share it on the Toolbox or drop us an email and we will see what we can do to make the idea available to your fellow maktab/madrasah teachers.

For now,

Wassalam,

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