Maya Al Mughairi is an enthusiastic, progressive young teacher in the Sharqiya region, who still recalls her earliest days in school with fondness, and being entranced by the ‘Bulldozer’ storybooks, about a family trip that goes awry, with their yellow, purple and orange colours, and being attracted by the look and sounds of the English language.
The teacher, and budding resource developer with a growing profile, paused to recall those memories upon her recent graduation from the specialized centre for professional teachers training in the ministry of education (MOE).
She reflected too on the excellent guidance and encouragement she received during her own school days when she thrived on the demands of the language, and even commenting that, “During presentations, I didn’t talk about people, places or things, but English grammar points. I even taught English to my family and friends.” Al Mughairi thrived on the language, and its challenges, and from the day her Grade 12 teacher suggested teaching as a career option, a vocation her mother had also fervently advocated, she felt so inspired, there was no other option for her.
We fast forward then, to her English language program in Education at the University of Nizwa under a government scholarship, where she explained that she, “Enjoyed every single moment at it! My first mini-teach was at the Um Al Fadil school for grades 5-12, in Birkat Al Mouz where I taught grade 9 and I absolutely loved it! Also, because I loved English so much, I graduated with a high GPA, and earned another scholarship to complete a Summer course of study at Brunel University in the United Kingdom.”
Though Al Mughairi would have liked longer than a Summer, in the UK, and ‘everything,’ was very different from home of course, but she loved the many challenges, and especially the teaching sessions which she described as, “exciting and wonderful. Because I had a lot of self-study time I also researched a lot of different teaching strategies, so it was a golden chance to practice all those new ideas I had, and it seemed from the first day, my students, grade 9, liked me and my way of teaching. That felt good.”
Upon her return to the Sultanate Al Mughairi was posted to the Al Aflaj School in Al Mudheibi, where she embraced the “strange but interesting,” challenges of teaching the very different grades 1 and 11. Despite being far from home, and missing her family and friends she was encouraged by the principal’s support and encouragement, and her rapid re-appointment to Grade 12 teaching duties, no doubt a reflection on her English language competency and experience. An appointment to Al Albab School in Ibra followed, and currently, the young educator is at the Noor Al Marifa School, teaching Grades 1 – 4.
“At first I didn’t want to teach kids because I didn’t have enough experience but once I started teaching them I discovered the joy and it’s incredibly rewarding. The first year was very much ‘finding my way,’ while during the second year, I began to seek and find solutions for pupils with lower levels of English acquisition, and I came up with a project called ‘My Reading Passport,“ which is a fun and interesting way to enhance pupil’s reading. Now the project has been in place for three years at the same school, and the results are extremely satisfying. I was recently informed that the project is a finalist in a national competition for educational innovation. I would love to win it!” She said.
As an innovator herself, she loves to diversify, and found a recent visit to the Finland Oman School, which uses exciting, very innovative research-based teaching methodologies, extremely inspirational. She appreciates how the architecture, the school furnishings, and their teacher recruitment policies create a wonderfully holistic, or ‘whole child,’ learning experience. “I want to visit schools around the world,” she stated with enthusiasm, “as I am a believer in the psychologies, philosophies theories of the educational sector all contribute to quality learning experiences for our pupils, and I want to be a part of the continued development of transformative teaching across the Sultanate.”
“That’s my dream! I want to see how teachers reach out to students in a hundred countries if I must, to identify best practices in teaching, and to discover the secrets of learners and learning. If I could do that, to travel, see, be and do, maybe I wouldn’t have to make do with ‘TED talks,’ which do inspire me, but as an experiential educationalist I believe I could truly inspire other young Omani teachers, so I continue with this objective. Maybe someone will hear me?” She laughed.
Oman has ‘young blood,’ with vision and vigour among its teachers, representative of that generation of ‘movers and shakers,’ with the potential to revitalize an education system in danger of resting on its laurels. In teaching and learning, Henry Adams wrote, “Teachers affect eternity, for none can tell where their influence stops.” We should hope Maya Al Mughairi can fulfil her wishes, her destiny, and inspire others through her international objectives.