Every educator plays a significant part in leading a society towards a profound future. These leaders cultivate an environment wherein students are free to learn at their own pace. They nurture students to be greater compassionate human beings, life long learners, and professionals capable of making a positive impact.
Recognizing such potential in our quest to find educational influencers who are continuously striving to improve the lives of their students, compelled us to bring to you this edition.
The below conversation with Shamsil Arifeen, the Chief Academic Coordinator at International Hope School Bangladesh will help us realize his transformation as an educational influencer.
The conversation begins with his journey and transition as an influencer. He says, “I completed my Advanced level qualifications in the year of 2009 from the high school that I currently work in. Later, went to North South University in Dhaka and pursued a bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering in the year 2015. Engineering has always been my passion mainly because I was always into computations and mathematical modelling of real-life scenarios. I got involved in teaching sometime in 2010 and gradually found my true passion for teaching mathematics. Recently, I have completed my Post-Graduate Diploma in Educational Leadership and School Improvement from BRAC University and looking for more scope to quench my never-ending thirst for seeking knowledge. I am currently working as the Chief Academic Coordinator at International Hope School Bangladesh for about two years. Before that, I have worked as Deputy Head of Academics in the same institution from the year 2016.”
Stricken with curiosity on what inspired him to become an educational influencer, we asked him the same. The events and questions that follow will help you understand and how he uses his accumulated knowledge and experience to change lives and educate a community.
How did you become an educational influencer? What inspired you? Was there any role model growing up?
In short, my teachers at school were my main inspiration. Their teaching not only was limited to contents taught in classrooms but also, they focused on delivering life-lessons beyond the school hours. I remember my physics teacher, Mr. Orhan Ufak taught me how to drive a car when I was in Grade 9. Not to mention Mr. Fatih Goktas, Mr. Hasan Vugar (my math teachers) who would help to solve mathematical puzzles using woodcraft. I will not be able to end naming all of them for whom I became what I am today. Their personalized approach to teaching was always a great success as it enabled students to trust them. Students used to give effort on their own in academics not to let their teachers down. As a teacher, I also employed those techniques and understood what difference it makes. Students appreciate teachers for life if these approaches are followed. I finally discovered that true happiness lies in making someone else happy and what better way is there other than teaching.
Tell us about your roles and responsibilities at International Hope School Bangladesh. How do you compliment the school’s vision?
My role over the years in the school encompassed from being a manager as well as being a leader. Even though my major duties lie in overlooking the academics in high school including planning, introducing innovation and implementation of upcoming trends in curriculum and teaching techniques, I also contribute to several major aspects in the operation of the school as a whole. From teachers’ recruitment to subject-teacher pairing, adapting new books, strategizing the inclusion of other curriculum trends, these are some of the core responsibilities of mine. I believe for the students to face the challenges for thriving in the 21st century, our strategies will allow them to be equipped with a concrete understanding of their emotional intelligence and use that to build essential skills to stand out in the crowd with strong ethics. Thus, our students will become independent and responsible learners instilled with values, which is the ultimate vision of our institution.
What role do you think that the administrative professionals play in corporate culture?
To be honest, it varies I believe. You have to adopt a more managerial role when you need to ensure that your team gets the work done, helping them to eye towards the possible loophole and ensure they are on time for the task. On the other side, when your team slacks off or has just encountered a failure, you need to act as an affiliate leader where you motivate your team with your own stories of failure and how you have stood up. We need to earn the trust of our team first before we act as managers. Long gone are the days when people used to perceive that being a good ‘boss’, with complete control over the employees were considered as being successful. Emotional Intelligence plays a huge role nowadays and it is always needed for us to put ourselves in others’ shoes before making or implementing a decision. Lastly, it is a must for us, the admin personnel to be very transparent so that our stakeholders (teachers, students, and the parents) are very much aware of our vision and thus aid in achieving that as a whole.
How do you feel the administrative assistant role has changed or will change in the future?
In my view, they are the true picture of the organizational culture. They play a crucial role in conveying the true nature of the top management to the employees. They have a tough job to do as they must switch themselves between manager-leader roles the most. In this age, where information is right at the fingertips, there is not much to instruct the employees. Their task is to groom the subordinates in utilizing that information in the most befitting manner. The most needed element for them is to be aware of and nurture their Emotional Intelligence for dealing with the employees.
What aspects of your job are the most challenging and how do you overcome them?
Two major aspects challenge me quite often. Firstly, it is my plan of action and the KPIs that I set for myself in evaluating the organization. At times, the topmost management cannot see the minor details in the bigger picture. Then, what I do is make a list of short-term goals and show them how they are being attained, eventually leading to the achievement of the holistic goal. Secondly, at times it is daunting to make multi-dimensional decisions. It is very tough for the mind to make a transition from one issue to the other in a short period. Thus, I opt to make time for self-reflection, consult with my subordinates and if that ends on a good note, I seal the deal. Consultation is key for making good decisions as it embeds a diverse perspective on the issue. Lastly, often the employees tend to ignore my strategies as I am younger than most. My response in that regard is being transparent about our goals, thus, bringing them aligned to those.
What advice can you give to graduates who seek to become influencers in the field of education?
You can always make your life a great story. Self-actualization should be your life-long aim. Teaching can be rewarding or hectic depending on how you perceive it. Unlike other professions, teaching does not give yield immediately. It is like watering a plant. Just like the joy you feel from seeing the tree from the plant you once nurtured, you will be elated when your students can use the knowledge being taught by you and become a person you desired them to be. I always tell the teachers to look into the eyes of the students, because that is the only place where you will find how many of them have entrusted their future on you. Being a weaver of their dreams is the only and the greatest motivation you will ever need.
What lies ahead of you in the upcoming years?
The future is uncertain. However, I have dreams of acquiring more knowledge in my field and thus bring changes to equip my students and the teachers for the future that lies ahead. Life-long learning is my passion. So, let me see where my passion takes me.