Sarah Fayzan

Sarah Fayzan

Monday, 25 January 2016 00:00

Teaching on TV

My department and I at the Ali Institute were approached by HOPE TV, a private channel working in the field of education. Their main objective of these recordings was to record episodes for their educational programming. Initially it sounded strange as I was in the habit of interactive teaching, so I felt that I I will have to understand the idea behind getting my lectures recorded. After getting important information on different websites, I was able to widen my vision of how we misunderstand education. For most of us, education has taken place only in one sphere - in schools, colleges and universities. Learning, meant to stop our other activities, removes us to some distinct place and then for a certain period of time, we dedicate ourselves solely to learning. 

We never considered that one day work and learning (especially) and play and learning (to some degree) would converge online. The same site we use to chat with people who share our interests will be the site where we also find our research materials, our examples of best practices, and our online courses and programmes. 

After getting over the fear of facing the camera, I firmly believe that educational institutions need to do two things: First, they need to devise mechanisms that will enable their courses to be embedded in the offerings of a portal, and second, they need to equip both staff and students with the mechanics of portal education so that it is not considered as an alien tool for teaching and learning. 

I think we need to place a few considerations in order to comply with these digital demands. With respect to the development of online learning materials and support systems, we should not just develop portals just for their own sake, but we need to make them fully functional for our students:

• learn how to develop and deliver learning materials 'on-demand'

• learn how to produce customised or tailored learning programmes/topics/modules for particular individual students(students with specific weaknesses and concerns)

• learn how to provide a completely online learning experience (this includes things such as books, online quizzes, classroom videos, testing and grading tools)

• learn how to promote the authority and trustworthiness of online course offerings

• learn how to partner with other educational institutions offering courses and programmes in the same field.

In a very short time we can master these opportunities and support our teaching practices in a much wider and wiser way. 


Wednesday, 03 June 2015 05:00

Coping with exam stress

Coping with exam stress

Last week I saw my students gathering around in the corners of the institute, discussing some issues quietly, some were sitting in the cafe with a dead look on their faces as if they had no point in living anymore, but still some managed to smile back at me. I soon figured out that the cause of all this emotion was the exam schedule that had just been announced. I knew that everything had been properly scheduled so what was all the fuss about? I discovered the cause. One reason is family pressure on the students to succeed in exams and the students can begin to feel a little overwhelmed by it all. Surprisingly, students who are actually good at coping with all these pressures start feeling nervous also, just because they are part of the same group. Another cause of ‘exam stress’ comes from students imposing on each other - sharing and explaining notes, coaching through problem areas, collaborative study. The impact of this on those not experiencing anxiety is that they also begin to experience anxiety. Unfortunately, we don't have a magic wand that can make exams go away, but I would like to share some tips that will help any student teacher stay well, focused and prepared for exams. 

The three vital things your body needs to keep well are food, water and sleep. 


Keeping hydrated is important for brain function, distributing nutrients around the body and removing what we no longer need. If possible, carry a water bottle to the exam hall to rehydrate.


Say NO to dieting during exams! Don’t be afraid of the extra pounds that you might put on – I promise they will go away after the exams. Fuel your body and mind with lots of greens, fruit, nuts and seeds as healthy energy boosting snacks and make sure you have a balanced diet of three meals a day. If you don't feed yourself properly your regular tummy rumbles will make it incredibly hard for you to concentrate. Try and eat as naturally as possible and stay away from refined sugars - found in sweets, fizzy drinks and chocolate. Yes they'll give you a boost initially but very quickly you'll notice a slump, leaving you feeling sleepy. 


Sleep is so important; it's your body's healing time, when the cells repair and your brain archives the millions of thoughts that have raced through your mind during the day. If you find that you have started dreaming a lot, it's because there has been a lot playing on your mind during the day. 

To help you get into that sleepy zone, give yourself 30 minutes to wind down - that means no TV and no smart phone! Pick up your course book which will help your eyelids drop immediately. :-)

Keep yourself focused

When you wake each morning don't rush to the nearest set of notes or textbook. Sit and think what targets you want to achieve today, think of a time line and get started.

Let it pressure go

Accept the things that you can't change. Your exams are coming, they will happen and then they will be over. Instead of leaking energy on worrying about them, create solutions and focus on what you can control.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015 05:00

Using TED Talks in School

Using TED Talks in School

TED Talks are “Ideas worth spreading”. Let me first explain the idea of what TED Talks are all about. They are relatively short and deal with the most pressing issues of the day, packed with interesting ideas containing information to be shared. It’s no wonder that they’re embraced by all kinds of learners in every stage of life across the world. Just explore the net and you can find them on almost every possible area of learning. TED Talks can make teachers think differently and can encourage the same in their students. Good TED Talks make us laugh, touch our hearts or even inspire us. 

How can teachers use TED Talks to their full advantage? Let’s take a look at a few creative ways I’ve used to do just that. I find that using TED Talks to convey an important message or spark creativity to be more effective in teaching students than giving a lecture or presentation.

To Spark Conversations

The most obvious way to use TED Talks in the classroom is to show talks that relate in some way to the subject material you’re currently covering. They can be used to capture student attention, reframe understanding, and spark a high calibre discussion amongst students which won’t be quickly forgotten.

Love the TED-Ed Platform

TED is well aware of its potential utility to the world of education — so aware, in fact, that it has an entire website,, devoted to using TED in the classroom. TED-Ed is a powerful platform that helps you create entire lessons around specific TED Talks, so do go through these websites and learn the art of TED. 

Make Your Own TED-Ed Club

It’s not just adults that have good ideas; in fact, if you browse through any number of TED Talks, they often hold up young people, who see fewer limits than adults do, as the creative ideal. So why not feature student ideas by giving them a platform of their own in your school?

Have Students Give Subject-Specific TED Talks

So far, we’ve discussed the ways students can benefit from hearing or discussing big ideas in the most general sense. But there’s no reason you can’t use the TED Talk model as inspiration for more specific curriculum activities. Let’s say, for example, that you are a history teacher and you’re currently focusing on the Mughal Dynasty. Why not have each student pitch their own big theory about this famous dynastic family? Certainly this would beat the typical presentation style!

No matter what route you take, the idea here is to take the TED Talk format and apply it specifically to whatever subject or unit you’re currently teaching.

In Short TED Talks make for a great base for so many different kinds of educational experiences. Whether you’re simply using a talk to spark discussion or you’re creating a TED series of your own, TED Talks make a creative, exciting, and rewarding teaching lens.

Using ice breakers and team building activities

Team-building activities are a great way for teachers to get to know their colleagues on a more personal level and, this can work in many different ways but here I will talk about our recent experience on the faculty retreat.We started off with an activity of answering different questions according to the candy we had selected. This icebreaker not only got us as all talking to each other, but it also got us to work with each other. It was also quite simple as well: selecting three candies and chocolates each one of a different type can excite any age and gender. The leader posed some questions on a piece of chart which made us talk all about ourselves in different teaching situations 

This icebreaking activity can also be extended by issuing one situation for the entire group or allocating a different situation to each team member, or pair, to work on. Depending on the situation chosen, the activity can be a lot fun.

Those candies and chocolates excited all of us; hence I am posting another idea using our favourite candies called M&M’s

The M&M Game 

Pass around a bag of M&Ms and have each person take as many as they want. For each colour of M&M have a question they can answer. For instance, 

Red: Name a campus resource.

Blue: Mention one thing you would like to change about the school

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