Building an Effective Classroom Culture

Last Sunday 24th October 2010, a new Professional Development workshop was conducted. The workshop was conducted by Mr. Ali Badran, a member of the Professional Development Committee of Ahmed Bin Hanbal Independent Secondary School for Boys. Thanks a lot for the presenter, Mr. Ali Badran for his efforts that resulted in achieving the objectives of the workshop to a great extent. Staff interaction enriched the discussions about strategies of enhancing the relationship between teachers and students. Next session will give examples of best practice that support building good rapport with students. Staff are now familiar with the various strategies that are used to enhance the relationship between teachers and students as well as some techniques of empowering students.

The main objectives of the workshop were to:

Identify key aspects in creating a strong teacher/student rapport.

Discuss ways to create positive relationships between you and your students.

Identify ways you can change your classroom to become more student centred.

Mr. Ali Badran started by getting teachers to brainstorm the key factors that build good rapport. Teachers’ answers centered on the following:

There was a discussion about the types of communication between teacher and students which can be shown by the following charts:

It is a continuous process where the teacher gives instructions. He also gives feedback to students to foster learning.

Then Mr. Ali, the presenter, elicited a number of communication strategies that are used in the classroom which are listed below:

Greet and farewell the students positively.

Be aware of your voice, volume and tone.

Keep your body language positive          .

Give clear, precise instructions.

Regularly check students’ understanding of concepts and ideas.

Develop open ended questioning techniques.

Allow students time to discuss ideas and concepts and give feedback.

Talk with them as young adults, not to them as young boys.

Speak to the students by name.

In consolidation of the previous workshop on traits of highly effective teachers, the presenter
recalled some personality traits that are summed up in the form of some pieces of advice for teachers to help them have good communication skills in the classroom.

Be honest, sincere and approachable.

Use humour. Laughter brings down barriers.

Make and acknowledge mistakes.

Be innovative, creative and energetic.

Be the best teacher in the student’s day.

Share your passion for your subject and learning.

Get to know each learner as a person.

Praise individual’s attempts.

Share your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to learn from the boys.

Role model values and virtues.  Share your feelings.

Professional Standards

Be planned, prepared and punctual.

Keep a professional distance.

Have targets and goals for yourself.

Be reflective and critique your own teaching.

Empowering students

To empower your students you need to:

Acknowledge students’ prior knowledge and strengths.

State that mistakes are a part of learning.

Dispel their fear of failure.

Encourage participation; Don’t ask the same 5 students for answers.

Believe that all students can succeed under your guidance and support.

Allow students time to explore their own ideas and interests.

Remind students that hard work leads to positive results.

Let them know that you are there to work hard for THEM.

Let students know that you enjoy working with them.

What do we expect to see in a classroom?

A clear learning objective on the board. (Clearly stated Learning Objectives).

A lesson with a Clear Start.

A Clear Middle that comes from the start.

A Definite End that relates back to the Learning objective.

Students working in groups – unless there is an assessment/ test on.

Students doing activities that help them learn. Less listening more action!

Students writing their notes in their copybooks.

Clear, accurate feedback from the teacher in the student books.

At the end of the workshop, there was a recommendation encouraging teachers to put today’s
activities into practice in their classrooms.

You can download this presentation here.

Ten Traits of Highly Effective Teachers

Last Sunday 17October 2010, a new Professional Development workshop was conducted. The workshop was very effective as teachers responded positively identifying the various traits of highly effective teachers and linked them to the appropriate National Professional Standards justifying their choice of certain standards for each trait. Staff are now totally familiar with the traits of highly effective teachers and can apply them in their own teaching.

The main objectives of the workshop were to:

  • Identify the ten traits of effective teacher
  • Link the ten traits with the appropriate NPST and give reasons
  • Suggest ways to improve teachers’ performance

The ten traits are listed in the following section with some elaboration on each of them.

1. Know your stuff

  • Deep knowledge of your subject matter is a must.
  • Effective teachers have extensive training and skill development in their academic content area, and keep their skills and knowledge current and sharp.

2. Plan it

  • Good teachers prepare lessons in advance so class time is not wasted.
  • They also collaborate with other teachers on planning and ensure they align lessons with the national standards and other benchmarks for students’ success.

3. Know how to assess and evaluate

  • Effective teachers use a systematic programme to assess their own efforts and to make appropriate changes.
  • Good teachers’ evaluation of students flows from primary learning objectives that are clear to learners and their families.

4. Understand your students’ learning styles

  • Different students have different learning styles. One size does not fit all.
  • Effective teachers tailor their instructional style to fit the needs of both individuals and whole classes of students.

5. Motivate

  • Effective teachers create learning opportunities through hands-on work, small group activities, peer to peer coaching, and individually guided instruction.
  • They make learning fun by making lessons interesting and relevant, and encourage students to speak up in class.

6. Create  safe, productive, well-managed classroom

  • Effective teachers know firm discipline policies contribute to a healthy academic atmosphere, and emphasize the value of regular attendance, promptness, respect for teachers and other students, and good conduct.
  • Students respond to consistency, fairness, and structure.
  • Good teachers make special efforts to ease the stresses and adjustment difficulties of children with special needs.

7. Get technological

  • Effective teachers integrate technology into classroom lessons, and ensure they understand and have training in how to use state-of-the-art technology.
  • Technology is a tool for increasing student interest, motivation, and achievement.

8. Appreciate diversity

  • Effective teachers clearly communicate their expectation that all children can and will achieve to the best of their ability.
  • They will not accept discrimination, bigotry, bullying, or harassment, and promote tolerance, curiosity, and respect for other genders, races, and cultures.

9. Forge the links

  • Effective teachers promote strong home-school-community relations by getting to know their students individually and building bridges between homes and classrooms.
  • Good teachers create multiple channels for communications with parents and the community members.
  • They try to see the “whole child” and provide extra help, referrals, and assistance for children facing challenges out-of-school.

10. Commit to lifelong learning

  • Good teachers are always growing and learning.
  • They share successes and challenges with other teachers and see themselves not as “experts” but part of a community of lifelong learners.
  • They commit to professional development.

The workshop ended by inviting teachers to suggest ways to improve
teachers’ performance.

You can download the presentation here.



Introduction to the National Professional Standards for Teachers and School Leaders

The professional development sessions in our school ABHSS started last Sunday 10th October, 2010. The first session dealt with a very important topic for teachers and school leaders. It was just an introduction to the National Professional Standards for teachers and school leaders.

The session started by stating the objectives which are:

Providing teachers with a simple introduction to the National Professional Standards for teachers and school leaders.

Giving the teachers the opportunity to classify some school activities against the professional standards.

In a brainstorming task, the teachers tried to tell what the National Professional Standards are.

The National Professional Standards describe the capabilities that teachers need to provide challenging and rewarding learning experiences for students.

They comprise twelve interrelated, career-long standards that address the key requirements of
teachers working in Independent Schools or seven that apply to senior managers.

They apply to all teachers and managers in Qatari schools.

All teachers will be given provisional registration as teachers in Qatar. (Provisional Licence)

Now teachers can apply for full registration.  (Full Licence)

To gain full registration teachers and managers must demonstrate that they have met the criteria of the professional standards.

To do this they must provide evidence that they have had experience with all the standards.


In fact, there are three classifications of teachers in Qatar:

Entry level teachers are new entrants to an Independent School.

Proficient teachers have demonstrated successful teaching in one or more Independent Schools.

Advanced skill teachers have demonstrated highly accomplished and successful teaching in one or more Independent Schools.

Here is a list of the National Professional Standards for teachers:

  1. Structure innovative and flexible learning experiences for individuals and groups of students.
  2. Use teaching strategies and resources to engage students in effective learning.
  3. Foster language, literacy and numeracy development.
  4. Create safe, supportive and challenging learning environments.
  5. Construct learning experiences that connect with the world beyond school.
  6. Apply ICT in managing student learning
  7. Assess and report on student learning
  8. Apply knowledge of students and how they learn to support student learning and Development
  9. Apply teaching/subject area knowledge to support student learning.
  10. Work as a member of professional teams.
  11. Build partnerships with families and the community.
  12. Reflect on, evaluate and improve professional practice.

Whereas the standards for school leaders are:

  1. Lead and manage learning and teaching in the school community.
  2. Develop, communicate and report on the strategic mission and aims of the school community.
  3. Lead and manage change.
  4. Lead and develop people and teams.
  5. Develop and manage school-community relations.
  6. Develop and manage resources.
  7. Reflect on, evaluate and improve leadership and management.

This means that every teacher or school leader in Qatar must become registered.  To gain full registration, a teacher or a school leader must demonstrate competency against the National Professional Standards.


To support teachers and school leaders in this:

All teacher and leader job descriptions are referenced against the NPSTL.

Appraisal documentation is referenced against the NPSTL

All professional development is referenced against the NPSTL

You will be given guidance on the process of gaining provisional registration.

You will be given step by step instructions on setting up a portfolio that will be used for attestation purposes.

You will be provided with a mentor to help you properly annotate and prepare your portfolio.


You can download this presentation by clicking on the following link “The National Professional Standards”

ABHSS Vision, Mission and Philosophy

Last Thursday 30 September, 2010 was the last day of the induction week of our school. On that day, Mr. Jameel Al-Shammari, the operator and Principal of the school gave a presentation which was concise and precise. It dealt with the school vision, mission and philosophy. The following is a summary of the points tackled during the presentation.

School Vision

To graduate students who stand out by their unique scientific and social skills in a learning environment characterized by dedication to the national and social sense. This educational environment should be equipped with modern technology and open to others, preserving the teachings of Islam and respecting the customs and traditions of others.

School Mission

  • Adopting an educational approach characterized by modernity and achieving the national standards
  • Developing students’ creativity
  • Ensuring that the students take pride in their country by preserving it
  • Instill the teachings of Islamic and the preservation of customs and traditions
  • Respecting the views and beliefs of others, being open to other cultures and most importantly engaging the community

School Philosophy

  • Graduate a distinguished generation of students who are scientifically capable of coping with the various types of development and characterized by dedication to the national and social sense and preserving the country’s environment and heritage.
  • Parental involvement in school programs through various follow up-on students and school activities.
  • Working to connect the school with the community in innovative ways to contribute to the different programs and projects of the school.
  • The educational process is the primary focus in the school and everything else is supportive to this idea.

Finally, Mr. Jameel handed certificates over to the Academic Vice Principal and other teachers who successfully completed different SEC training programs on various topics related to the teaching process: Evolving Leaders, Aspiring Leaders, Curriculum Standards, Professional Standards and Research Projects.

All staff appreciated the efforts exerted from the trainers during the induction week.

You can download Mr.Jameel’s presentation here.

School Policies and Ahmed Bin Hanbal Way

Last Wednesday, 29 September 2010 was day 4 of the induction week. Mr Rashid Al-Naimi gave a presentation about school management system and ended up by giving a brief idea about “Ahmed Bin Hanbal Way“.


He started by highlighting the importance of “perfection” and advised staff to do their best to perfect their work. He informed the staff about the school academic calender showing the various dates for examinations and holidays wishing them all a successful year.



After that he started talking about school management systems; checking attendance, students’ behaviour, staff duties during the school day and emergency regulations. School management systems ensure enhancing positive behaviour, values and principles. School students should follow the school rules and good behaviour practices as students are considered the ambassadors and representatives of the school in the community.  It was also important clarifying the consequences of students’ poor behaviour and mentioning that we should try to gradually combat bad behaviour.


Mr. Rashid emphasized the importance of the relationship between parents and the school through the administrative staff and the social workers.
It was also good mentioning the undesirable practices that are prohibited in the school; physical punishment of students, private lessons, smoking, etc.

Staff were advised to:

  • be punctual and come to school before seven a.m.
  • welcome students on their arrival to school and encourage them to work hard.
  • cooperate with colleagues and school administration.
  • encourage students to sing the National Anthem enthusiastically.
  • be well prepared and to cooperate with the subject coordinators.
  • involve all students in class and non-class activities.
  • vary activities for differentiation.
  • get all visual aids and handouts ready a week in advance.
  • prepare a “Do-Now Activity” for the start of the lesson.
  • inform students of lesson objectives.
  • use the three strikes technique when necessary.
  • leave the class clean and tidy for the next teacher.


All teachers participated effectively and enthusiastically.

You can download Mr. Rashid’s presentation here .

Identifying Poor Student Behaviour and Its Causes

In completion of the induction week, the third workshop took place last Tuesday, September 28, 2010 in the new premises of the school. The workshop’s title was “Identifying Poor Student Behaviour and Its Causes“. I have to mention here the effective role played by the “Cognition Team” in whole staff professional development and I have to admit the truth that we miss them so much and wish them the best of luck.

The workshop started by eliciting what poor behaviour is and what the effects of poor behaviour are. Of course, teachers used their own experience in identifying poor behaviour and its possible causes. Finally, there was an open discussion on suggesting and recommending methods to fight poor behaviour.


There is no doubt that poor behaviour disrupts learning. Poor behaviour can take different forms e.g. physical, verbal, non-verbal or inactive. There was an argument on the causes of poor behaviour. It could be the student, the environment, parents and peers, school systems or the teacher. Some people believe that all the previous elements can be the real cause of poor behaviour.


Some queries made us think of the teacher and how teachers can be the real cause of  poor behaviour. Some of the queries are:
Is the teacher:

  • talking too much?
  • using boring activities?
  • giving poor instructions?
  • planning poorly?
  • setting tasks that are too easy or too hard?
  • unaware of disruptive students?
  • using appropriate tone of voice and body language?
  • involving all students in activities?
  • giving praise and feedback to students?

The behaviour management cycle was elicited and presented as follows:



Then, in an answer to the question “What are the possible solutions for the behaviour problems that we face in our classrooms?”, I gave the chance to Mr. Anas, the Islamic Studies teacher, to give his own presentation that focused mainly on suggesting solutions based on how the teacher can change his own behaviour according to the teachings of Islam and  Prophet Mohamed (Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him) so as to build good relationships with the students based on mutual respect and understanding and dealing with students as grown up young men.


If you are interested you can download my presentation by clicking on the following link which carries the workshop title:

Identifying poor student behaviour and its causes

The presentation was originally prepared by the “Cognition Team” and I made some simple modifications to it.

You can also download Mr. Anas’s presentation by clicking here.