Redefining stereotypes by showcasing positive Black and Ethnic Minorities contributions, and empowering and inspiring the next generation.
EDITION ELEVEN – 2020
I am… kind… determined… hopeful… a daughter, sister and friend… a learner, teacher & leader…
Who are you?
I am kind. I am determined. I am hopeful. I am a daughter, sister and friend. I am a learner, teacher and leader. Education is the most valuable possession I have as a woman. Education empowers – I strive to ensure that the young learners I teach and work with know that truth.
What is your present role?
English Leader. KS1 Phase Leader. Teacher. Womened Regional Leader. Teachers as Readers member with the Open University.
Tell us about your life journey so far. What has brought you to your current role?
Education is hope. The title of my first ever blog for #womened. I reflected on the mirage of melancholy that spanned the first few decades of my life.
Raised by a beautiful single mother (a blessing), racism and cultural bullying, which led to Mum walking away from her family. Workplace bullying as an NQT…
I purposefully described facets of the mirage rather than a full-scale tapestry because my tapestry of life is still being woven and I don’t intend to display every thread. There are threads that are woven which are marked with waves of sadness but were never absorbed by it. The frayed edges have taught me that difficulties help you build resilience. They’ve also taught me about the spectrum of human behaviour.
Life is a gift – time is precious – empowerment through education is the best form of freedom and an undeniable source of hope and strength.
I realised during my A-Levels why I loved learning so much. I had achieved three As. Considering what was happening, my grades solidified something – I was in control.
Even with being uprooted, endless cycles of chaos, the one thing I knew I was in control of was my learning. That was empowering. School was sanctuary.
Learning became an escape – it was my safe place. It should be every child’s safe place. The two spells of racism I encountered crystallised I was meant to teach.
Perception is powerful.
Children’s eyes are wide and their hearts are pure until they are poisoned with prejudiced perceptions.
At 11, a blue-eyed boy was staring at me across the fence, listening to his family commanding the dogs to ‘Attack!’ 10 years later, I encountered racism whilst on my first PGCE teaching placement – the same look of bewilderment and confusion in a boy’s eyes.
Most importantly, his perception changed or rather was formed based on my character and kindness when I taught him.
Human connections should influence perception – education enables that.
In your field of work, what has been your observation and/or experience of white privilege, discrimination and prejudices?
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were younger?
Nothing. Everything happens for a reason and life is about learning.
What song, quote, statement or image do you find most encouraging?
Kind heart, fierce mind, brave spirit.
How are you redefining a stereotype?
What makes me unique?
Persian heritage, Kashmiri ethnicity, British nationality, ‘Native American spirit’, ‘a climbing pixie’… I am different.
I’m proud to say that I don’t necessarily fit into a culture or any type of clique – I wasn’t bought up that way. In my view, cultures and cliques are a way for humans to create difference and distance rather than appreciate diversity.
I was bought up to find who I am- not to comply and accept what is but to find myself in a world full of possibilities.
#womened has enabled me to become a leader – an authentic leader.
I am breaking the mould by harnessing my femininity and listening to my heart – I must keep listening to my inner voice. Nurture and kindness are the two golden threads that have defined me as a teacher. Nurture and kindness enable me to live my values and that’s what I’ll keep doing as I continue to grow into a leader or rather an enabler.
What advice or top tip would you give to the next generation of BAME individuals?
Humans are adept at learning when they are free to swim through the waters of knowledge, follow the winds of inspiration and plant their own seeds of knowledge.
Education is one of the most powerful facilitators of diversity – openness – inspiration – aspiration.
Follow your heart and listen to your intuition. Redefine and reimagine. Create a language of success that fits your why and your values. Just be you.