By Daniel Guerrero
There are rumbling conversations coming from the students as they audibly enter the classroom to take their seats. Distinctive art pieces hang on the wall, showcasing students’ artwork and projects that they did in class. There is the sound of a black expo marker writing on a whiteboard by senior Sadiya Kazani as she writes the agenda for the day. Afterward, she swiftly turns around from the board, settles the students down, and begins to give lessons.
Every Saturday, Kazani teaches different aspects of Muslim history to sixth graders at the San Fernando Valley Religious Recreation Center. Kazani attempts to have her students incorporate and apply their practices of faith to their modern-day life. Specifically, she has her students study the ethics of Imperialism and reflect on the ways merchants would utilize silk and spice routes for trade and share information over time.
“This can apply to their lives today because they learn so much from all of the diverse cultures that they see from people they meet at school,” Kazani said.
To have her students fully understand these lessons, Kazani incorporates them into art projects. She does this because she believes that some people are visual learners and would understand the material better from drawing it out rather than from writing. She also tries to have everyone participate by asking them for examples of ways they could apply these concepts to their daily lives.
“I ask the students things like how do you practice this ethic of diversity and acceptance to your lives? Then, the kids would respond that they would have lunch with their friends and talk about how they have different ethnicity in backgrounds,” Kazani said.
Kanzai hopes to have the students feel inclusive by having them openly share what they want, like bullying experiences, in order to work it out together as a class. Besides that, she takes time for each student to fully understand the material and teaches them to appreciate more of their religion to show them that they are not outsiders to society.
“Before I became the students’ 6th-grade teacher, I was their 5th-grade teacher assistant and there was a student from Russia who did not know English. At first, it was very difficult for him, but eventually, he adapted to it over time. It was amazing to see him grow as a student,” Kazani said.
This kind of teaching technique that she applies to her classroom is heavily inspired by her former AP U.S History teacher Carla Bacon’s comfortable environment and passion. Because of this, Bacon inspired Kazani to proceed with a teaching career in history in the future.
“I am flattered and very proud. Proud that Sadiya would consider a profession that, despite all the politics and clear challenges, I still consider a noble one. Continuing to cultivate these skills as an Academic Mentor proves that she is a friendly and driven young woman committed to service,” Bacon said.
Kanzai hopes to make an impact on students’ lives, in terms of producing a different perspective on history and its correlation to their own life.