I’m excited to introduce you to one of the teachers I work with, Shadi Kafi. Shadi shows real strengths in promoting positive climate, especially the way that she positively narrates behaviors to create a warm atmosphere in her room. Read below to learn more about the great things going on in Shadi’s classroom. —Stephanie Sullenger
What organization do you work for?
KIPP Northeast College Prep
What grade-level and subject do you teach?
9th grade, World Geography
Where did you attend college and what was your major? List all that apply.
University of St. Thomas, BA in psychology
Thurgood Marshall School of Law, JD in criminal and juvenile defense, private practice for six years
What attracted you to teaching?
I enjoy promoting education and advising and empowering young adults to make good decisions so they can live their dreams despite any setbacks due to circumstances beyond their control, which may have already caused (or have the potential to cause) a negative mindset.
What is the best part of teaching? What is the most difficult part of teaching?
The best parts are building relationships with students and being able to empower them to advocate for themselves personally and academically, helping them build strong character skills, guiding them through the college process and beyond, leading extracurricular activities like the travel club so they can see the world from a fresh perspective, just to name a few. The list is endless.
I think the difficult part is knowing that a student is capable of doing better academically and socially and attempting to change their mindset.
Describe a successful teaching strategy that you use in the classroom. How does this impact your students’ achievement?
I praise effort just as much or more than I praise end results, and I make the little good acts of character a huge ordeal and praise them as well. I don’t think students can get too much praise or positive reinforcement. I try to fuel them with as much positive energy as I have. I think it helps students believe in themselves more, try harder, and get out of that mindset that everything must be perfect for them to be good enough. Often times, it’s the effort that matters the most, and as long as they keep trying, they can get better and better over time academically and in all facets of character that are necessary to be content and successful in life.
When you are not working on closing the achievement gap, what do you enjoy doing?
I spend time at the dog park with my 2-year-old Yorkie Nykko.
I am part of a Middle Eastern folkloric dance group that performs at elementary schools, festivals, and fundraising events for charitable causes in the Middle Eastern community.
I love to travel, paint, audition for plays, bike, swim, dance, cook, bake, juice, do yoga, and write poetry and short sarcastic prose. I love raising money for cancer research. I love spending time with family and friends. I love reading news and keeping current on legal issues. I love trying new things–anything adventurous, creative, challenging and fun. I love creating myself, learning, and growing every day in every way.
What three words would you use to describe the experience of participating in Teaching Excellence?
Nurturing, practical, rigorous