“Resources are not the problem. Our ability to work with, around and without the resource to achieve the student learning outcome is what matters.” – Abdikadir Ismail, Kenya
Mwangaza Muslim Mixed Day Secondary School
At the recent gathering of Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts (MIEEs) in Toronto, one enterprising school leader earned the nickname “No Problem” – and for good reason. Abdikadir Ismail leads an under-resourced school so remote that it “can’t even be found on Google Maps.” But despite the challenges, Ismail has the attitude that any problem can be solved with hard work and a bit of ingenuity.
“At E2, I saw inspired educators and learners seated all around me,” he shares. “Suddenly [I understood] that it matters little where you are. What matters is what you are capable of. While working on our group challenge, I realized that I could contribute at an equal par, and when my group won the ‘Strategize’ category, I was over the moon. As a team, we all shouted, ‘No problem!’.”
Ismail took much of what he learned at the event and immediately applied it in his own school.
“We borrowed the idea of booths to share our students’ work during a recent Science and Engineering Fair,” he explains. “Our students did well beyond our expectations: two of the three projects we presented got accepted. The students and teachers were overjoyed; these results also came as a surprise to the more dominant schools.”
Seeing a mismatch between the job market and current teaching content and methodologies, Ismail is making big changes at his school, including disbanding the grading system – an idea he borrowed from countries that are doing this successfully.
“Learners concentrate on achieving good grades but fail to acquire needed soft skills that improve their employability, or ability to create jobs,” he says. “We teach them to compete against each other, but the real world expects them to collaborate. We teach them to be individuals who work hard, but the real world expects them to network and work smart. We teach them facts and show them the formulas to solve problems, but the real world expects them to be creative and innovative in their critical thinking to solve problems – routine and non-routine. We essentially teach them our yesterday or today, yet the real world expects them to lead and innovate tomorrow.”
Whatever challenges the “real world” poses to students and educators, we’re confident that Abdikadir Ismail is ready to tackle them.
You can connect with Abdikadir Ismail at his Microsoft Educator Community Profile.
About Abdikadir Ismail
- Educational background: Currently pursuing M. Ed (Management), B.Ed (Arts) Hons, Diploma in Education Management
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Office Mix, Office Lens
- What is the best advice you have ever received? “You cannot fatten a goat during the market day.”
- Website I check every day: BBC/sports/football
- Favorite childhood memory: Running in the rain from school.
- Favorite book: Siku Njema (A Swahili novel)