ACG Sunderland Year 2 students have an exciting time before them under the tutelage of Nadeem Shafi. In addition to holding two master's degrees (one in teaching and one in law) and an unwavering passion for inspiring young minds, the former Deputy Director for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has been at the vanguard of some of the world's most pressing global issues.
Nadeem, what inspired you to become a teacher?
Three years of teaching at an international preschool in Phuket motivated me to complete my first formal teaching qualification – a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (International) from the University of Nottingham (UK). This was followed by moving to New Zealand to complete a Master's in Teaching at the University of Auckland. After qualifying with distinction, I taught in a West Auckland Primary School for two years before joining the team at ACG Sunderland.
What attracted you to ACG Sunderland?
My vision and values align closely with those of ACG. I have high expectations of my learners and colleagues, a keen understanding of what motivates learners to succeed, and a clear vision of the potential of all learners. I wanted to be at a school that provides exciting, engaging and challenging learning opportunities for students.
I also had a strong desire to see my son, who was struggling to succeed in a public-school environment, move to a school that had retained many of the traditional values that I remembered from my own education in the UK. These values played a big part in my education and enabled me to succeed academically. Both of my children (7-year-old twins!) are now enrolled at ACG Sunderland.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Primary education is foundational for children and, when done effectively, sows the seed for future academic success and a lifetime love of learning. Working with learners at this foundational stage, although challenging, is a privilege. No two days are the same, and I find my young learners' speedy progress (personal, social and academic) incredibly rewarding. Learning is a two-way process, so I also love learning from my learners!
Tell us a little about life before teaching, specifically your experiences working for WWF (International).
At WWF, I was able to draw upon my background in international and environmental law to support a team of policy officers across eight different countries to draft an international treaty on climate change (UNFCCC). This involved working with numerous international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well as national governments.
My highlights included work with Hewlett-Packard to draw attention to the risk of climate change to the plight of the Bengal tiger in India and Bangladesh, along with work in Indonesia to halt deforestation and the loss of habitat for orangutans. I also enjoyed working with 'Coral Triangle Nations' (Indonesia, Philippines and Small Pacific Island States) to highlight the impacts of rising ocean temperatures on coral reefs.
How will these experiences shape your classes now and in the future?
Environmental degradation, climate change and sustainability are huge issues that our learners will face in the near future. Bringing my experience working in this sector into the classroom will help facilitate my student's understanding of these issues. I am looking forward to teaching Primary science across Years 1 to 6.
How do you connect with and engage your students?
Building supportive and nurturing relationships is critical to learning, and this is best achieved by knowing one's students. I connect with my learners by understanding their backgrounds, interests, motivations, and academic needs. I then tailor my teaching interventions to suit that. Being a father to 7-year-old twins also affords me great insight into the popular culture that young children are exposed to, which further helps me connect with my young students.
What words do you think your students would use to describe you?
Friendly (my name actually means friend/courtier in Urdu), caring, nurturing and funny (I see value in bringing humour into the classroom).
Where might we find you when you are not at work?
I enjoy spending leisure time with my family, reading, gardening, and I've recently re-engaged with pottery after a ten-year hiatus.
What tips or advice do you always share with your students?
- Considering the global pandemic, stay resilient and adaptable to different types of learning.
- Follow your dreams and read and research as much as you can around an area of interest.
- Limit your screen time, maximise your outdoor playtime.
- Work hard but remember to have fun along the way.