|27 Sep 2023|
|2023 Finalists Global Teacher Prize|
Teaching was neither a dream nor an objective for Laila El Baghazaoui when 12 years ago she joined the ranks of unemployed post-graduates protesting in front of the Moroccan parliament for the right to work, in the economic vacuum immediately following the Arab Spring, with the result that she was directly recruited by the Ministry of Education as an English teacher. While she was originally thinking of following a career in journalism, she was happy in soon adjusting to the challenge of teaching, and as an autonomous learner attended many conferences and workshops to learn how to do everything including making lesson plans. Finding it initially tough to teach high school students she focused on how best to win and keep their attention while keeping her teaching authentic and meaningful.
Strategies she adopted included utilising ICT in lessons and adopting tools like Kahoot, integrating music into classes to reduce unhealthy background noise and enable student concentration and focus, dividing classes into groups to help each other and ensure no one is left behind, together with an emphasis on “learning the language instead of chasing marks”, being creative and helpful, integrating reading with screen activity and providing short movies thematically related to the curricula to stimulate further student interest, taking students out of the classroom to practice public speaking or work on other activities in different environments to keep them fresh and stimulated.
In 2014, Laila moved to Charif Elidrissi High School and as well as coaching individual girls students to excel at tech, other students who wanted to be a pilot and a pianist, and others to win in public speaking contests, she implemented different programs to link her students with schools globally. One of these was her students collaborating with a school from Taiwan to sensitize students about the dangers of drugs, and in collaboration with MATE (the Moroccan Association of Teachers of English) implementing the Global Nomads Group Campfire Program where every week students connect and share information about their communities and cultures, enhancing their cross-cultural communication, digital literacy, and other 21st century skills.
At the end of each term she invites parents and teachers to join together to celebrate the success of their children and students and has been astonished at the levels of appreciation parents show in touching testimonies about the work she has done with the students.
Laila’s work in promoting critical thinking and global citizenship among her students has won her prizes including the International School Award from the British Council, her portfolio in the top six for connecting her school with different schools around the world, as it rewards those schools showing great commitment to embedding international awareness and understanding within their class; 3rd prize for innovative teachers of the year (2018-2019) provided by the Moroccan Ministry of Education; and in 2020, she and another teacher from Rwanda won the African Scholarship to attend the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) conference that year.