Education students examine teaching methods in seminar with 2016 Global Teacher Prize winner Hanan Al Hroub

Education students at Birzeit University discussed how to best approach teaching in the special Palestinian context in a seminar led by Hanan Al Hroub, winner of the 2016 Global Teacher Prize, on Saturday, April 20, 2019.

The Global Teacher Prize, awarded by the Varkey Foundation to outstanding educators who have made lasting contributions in the field of teaching, was given to Al Hroub in recognition for her efforts to create a safe, engaging learning environment for Palestinian students who face restrictions on movement, arrests, and daily disruptions by the Israeli occupation forces. 

In his opening remarks, Ahmad Aljanazrah, the dean of the Faculty of Education, highlighted the impact of Al Hroub’s contributions to teaching in Palestine. He praised her for setting an example as an educator who adapts the learning environment to the needs of the students − even though she has to work with extremely limited resources. 

Discussing her journey, Al Hroub shared that she felt the dire need for educators who understand the trauma that many Palestinian children regularly experience after her husband had been shot by Israeli forces. Seeing her children react to this harrowing event, she emphasized, gave her a first-hand account of the psychological shock that Palestinian school children must deal with on a near-daily basis. 

“Keeping this in mind,” Al Hroub explained, “my approach to teaching revolves around creating a safe space for students, a place where they can forget about the occupation, the shootings, and the arrests.” She added that she uses interactive, participatory presentations to pique the interest of students, and that she allows them to explore and study topics on their own. 

“I’ve noticed that violence is ever-present nowadays. Whether they experience it in movies, video games, or − for Palestinian children − on the way to school, violence affects children’s psyche. It creates anger and stress for which they have no outlet,” said Al Hroub. “My approach focuses on providing them with a method that helps them deal with, and release, this stress in a healthy environment where they can feel safe.” 

Following Al Hroub’s presentation, the attending students discussed how to adapt her methodology to the varying needs of individual students, and how to better promote teamwork within classrooms and in curricula.