We first met Ikram at our 2017 Annual Benefit Dinner where he shared how having a teacher who shares your own background and experience can be life-changing. Now, he has completed institute and is preparing for his first day of the new school year. We checked in with him to see how he's feeling after a summer of teaching New York City students and to see if he's ready to be the teacher so many students need.
What's your name and where are you from?
My name is Ikram Rabbani. I'm from Flushing, NY
Why did you join Teach For America?
I joined TFA to be the teacher and role model that I never had. I was born and raised in NY, and although I’ve been gone for some time, my summer back in NY has reminded me of the challenges that lie ahead, as well as what my role will be for the next few years.
How would you describe your experience at institute?
My institute experience was undoubtedly challenging, but ultimately heartwarming and uplifting. Though I never thought I’d be teaching English, I was excited to step into these shoes and work at the Inwood Academy for Leadership. My greatest takeaways, however, were the relationships I forged with my students and the potential for success that I saw over the course of my six weeks with them.
What does "teaching as leadership" mean to you?
Teaching as leadership means being able to build community and fellowship through teaching; to be able to help students find their passion, be inspired, and empower themselves. Most importantly, however, it means to serve my students, their parents and families, the school, and the community.
At the Teach For America - New York Annual Benefit Dinner you said "I joined TFA to be a teacher for students like me, a teacher I never had." How do you feel about that after having gone through institute?
My faith in this statement has been immensely reinforced, and I can’t wait to start this fall.
What's the most important lesson you learning this summer?
It’s all about the students. It doesn’t matter what you teach or where you’re doing it; it’s having faith in and caring about students that sets teaching apart from everything else.
What's the best teaching tip you've heard so far?
My Mentor Teacher, Ashley Aluko, who is also a Teach For America alumna, taught me that teaching is an art, and a craft that cannot be mastered in one day. It requires patience and forgiveness, so be kind to yourself.
Who or what Inspires your work?
When I walk around Flushing, I don’t see my peers or our role models. I see their graffiti tags and the deli they used to stand outside of all day. I see the handball courts they used to own and the streets they used to run. I see the schools they were expelled from and the teachers that didn’t care about them. I see their shadows, but I don’t see them. They inspire me, because they were no different than the students I taught this summer and the students I’ll be teaching this fall.
Ikram shares his story with the audience at our 2017 Annual Benefit Dinner
In partnership with Relay Graduate School of Education, we set out to create the conditions that empower our teachers to know students, cultivate community within their classrooms, engage students in rigorous and relevant content, and challenge inequity throughout (and long after) their corps experience. Together, we designed a customized summer of training.