The Prophet PBUH taught Islam to so many people around him. A companion once said: “I’ve never seen any teacher gentler than the Messenger of Allah (PBUH).” (Abu Dawud 931). We can utilise some of the Prophets’ teachings to help us teach scripture, for example:
- Maintain direct eye contact with listeners
- Repeat lesson in different ways
- Ask questions to spark curiosity and interest
- Use questions to elaborate and expand
- Speak in a measured tone (appropriate to discussions)
- Use daily life examples/illustrations/gestures/visuals or objects to help explain points
- Give time between words for listeners to process information
- Have an attitude which shows kindness, gentleness, warmth and care to all students.
Some suggestions for maintaining a safe, respectful and engaging classroom:
- BE PREPARED by reading the syllabus ahead of time. This gives you added confidence and allows more time for thinking about ways to tailor lessons for your specific class (remember to run ideas by your supervisor).
- Get to know your students: Take the opportunity at the beginning of each year (or term) to learn students’ names and a bit about them. Building positive relationships is key to engaging students and managing behaviour in the classroom!!
- Remain calm and positive! Explain to students that you are all there for the same reason – because we are Muslim, we love Allah SWT and we want to learn about our religion altogether in a nice, fun environment. When you are calm, controlled and enthusiastic, you generate this positive energy to your students and model correct Islamic behaviour.
- Praise! Praise! Praise! Encouragement goes a long way. Try to say the students name and recognise their efforts. This can be as simple as a verbal acknowledgment such as “Masha ‘Allah, great listening Adam!” or “Thanks for your excellent behaviour Year 3!”
- Break up the lessons: Teachers should never spend the whole lesson talking themselves! Keep students actively engaged with discussions, small group work and short simple activities where the focus is not on the teacher. The Syllabus suggests some activities to maintain engagement.
- Differentiate learning and tailor to student needs: The Syllabus provides a guide on how lessons should proceed from Kindy onwards. You can add on lesson info from a higher grade or simplify learning towards a lower stage outcome if this suits your students.
- Consider the classroom environment: Having student sitting on the floor close to you or in a big circle often aids engagement and discussion.
- Rules: Discuss classroom rules during your first lesson of scripture. Students will be less likely to break the rules if you remind them that they had decided this rule was important in the first place! Students should already be familiar with the school behaviour policy and you can remind them of this. The classroom teacher present may also help you if needed.
- If a student is being disruptive, without drawing too much attention to their action, go stand by them. They realise you are aware of their behaviour and usually stop. If this doesn’t work, pause the lesson and wait for silence.
- Review and reflect: Occasionally you may need to stop everything and discuss respectful learning with the class, especially when discussing Allah SWT. Calmly, you can mention that Angels surround the classroom because we are all sitting together remembering Allah SWT and how pleased Allah SWT is with gatherings where He is remembered. Give students a moment to reflect and then very briefly state the basic classroom rules again like putting your hand up, remain seated unless asked to move, use your manners, keep your hands, feet away from others etc.
STARTING YOUR LESSON
SALAMS: We know that teaching scripture may sometimes be challenging, and that a good start to each lesson is important, so teachers should start each lesson enthusiastically, using the Islamic greeting:
“As-salamu ʿalaykum…” "peace be upon you"
Encourage students to respond with the reply of “wa-alaikum Assalamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu,” (and may the peace and mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you). Please explain the meaning. Try to always use this greeting, as spreading this greeting was described in hadith as one of the best things that a Muslim can do!
DUA: Teachers may find it helpful to then begin their lesson by reciting and explaining the following Dua of Prophet Musa AS with students. Teachers should explain that this Dua can be used to help with important tasks, speeches, to improve confidence and communication. Teachers can mention how saying it helps calm you as you start your lesson.
Rabbishrah lee sadree, Wayassir lee amree, Wahlul ‘Uqdatam-mil-li saanee, Yafqahoo qawlee (Surat Ta-Ha, verses 25-28)
“O my Lord! Expand for me my chest (grant me peace, contentment and confidence); ease my task for me; and remove the impediment from my speech (remove incorrectness from my speech/ help me say the right things), so that they understand what I say.”
AL FATIHA/BISMILLAH: Teachers may find it beneficial to start each lesson with Surat Al-Fatiha, or by saying “Bismillah” (in the Name of Allah) with students. We want students to understand that we start every good thing remembering Allah SWT. The syllabus aims to always include some discussion of Allah SWT’s Glorious 99 Names each term in order to help increase an awareness and love of Allah SWT in our lives and in every act we do.
ENDING THE LESSON: At the end of each lesson, try to conclude with the following closing Dua. The Prophet SAW informed us that if this Dua is said at the end of a gathering, Allah SWT will forgive us for any intentional or accidental mistakes we might have made during the gathering.
Subhanaka Allahumma wa bi hamdika ashadu an la ilaha illa anta astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk
O Allah! You are free from every imperfection; praise be to you. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except you; I ask Your forgiveness and turn to You in repentance.