so in order to include her in a decision that impacted her, which in turn undoubtedly increased her love for him. Similarly, we should include our students in decision-making as much as possible. The best aspect to include our students in is our ultimate goal in life, and so I tell them, “My young sisters and brothers, I want to be in Jannah with you as my companions. Will you accompany on me this journey called life so we both can get there?”
3. Listen. Listening is powerful, because it’s putting the spotlight on your student, which makes them feel important, heard, and respected. Kids have the best barometer for measuring hypocrisy. Be honest and truthful. If you don't know what something is, admit it to them, and allow them to teach you. Often, I incorporate activities where my students are the instructors, and to reinforce this visually, I sit in their chair, so they experience how the ultimate respect is for knowledge, and not just for me. Listen to them with an open heart and open mind, not with your own agenda in mind.
4. Respect. Respect them, and they will respect you. Youth want respect from teachers. Eastern cultures demand respect, especially for elders , and more so for teachers, regardless of who or what they are. Western culture encourages respect, one where those around you respect you because of who you are, your personality, your manners, etc. We have the prophetic example where Rasulullah (S) commanded respect, so much that even his enemies referred to him as the truthful one, the trustworthy one (Al-Siddiq, Al-Amin).
5. Connect. Connect with them through their interests. My girls love to socialize! We would organize parties, ice cream socials, and qiyams where they would see the more human-side of me, so they wouldn’t feel like I was from another world. Again, this isn’t because I simply want to feel loved, or to be a frivolous friend. My intention is to remove the communication barrier, and come closer to them so they can fly with the banner of Islam, and love it with surrender as I have come to love Islam.
All of these can be done even within a 45 min class that comes only once a week. That is because these aren't related to the knowledge-aspect of what you're teaching. Instead, they are related to our Akhlaaq, our manners, which are not limited by time: our manners with Allah, for having HOPE and TRUST in Him that we can light the torch of Islam within our young ones. InshaAllah, by keeping our intentions in check, and focusing on our divine purpose for ourselves as well as our young generation, we shall overcome any possible generation gaps so our children enter Islam whole-heartedly. It takes a village my fellow educators, and we are a vital component of that village.
Nazihah Malik has her BA in History and has over 10 years of teaching experience in full time and weekend Islamic schools.