Being an English Language Fellow presented invaluable opportunities for professional growth for Shaheed Sabrin, whose fellowship helped him become a “workshop extraordinaire.” Shaheed was a Fellow in Khota Baru from 2014-2016, where he taught English for business at the only entrepreneurship university in Malaysia.
Shaheed took advantage of his role as a Fellow to pursue professional goals in varied educational realms. He worked on curriculum development, trained teachers, coached Ministry of Education officials, supported U.S. Embassy English Access Microscholarship programs, and helped facilitate the first edcamp “unconference” in Malaysia for classroom teachers, instructional coaches, and administrators. In an edcamp, attendees drive the conference and serve as presenters, so there is no hierarchy between attendees and presenters. “The edcamp movement is an innovative model for professional development that started in the US in 2010,” Shaheed said.
He also facilitated more than one hundred workshops throughout six countries in Southeast Asia, and even won the Gold prize for best workshop at the International Conference on English Language Teaching (ICELT). “Towards the end of my term, I facilitated an intensive English Camp training session for 68 high school teachers. The very next day, I got to see them implement my ideas at four schools for 100 students each. It was such a rewarding experience getting to see my ideas being put to use,” Shaheed said.
Ensuring the sustainability of the impact of his workshops was very important for Shaheed, who made it a point to follow up with the students and teachers he trained. “Even though I was constantly on the move, I kept in contact with my students and teachers and continued to offer support, while increasing their awareness of all American English Webinars and Massive Open Online Courses,” Shaheed said.
Shaheed received a bachelor’s degree in dramatic arts, which fostered his love for improv and communication. “This fellowship helped me strengthen my listening skills, interpersonal skills, improvisation techniques, and most importantly, the ability to sustain the attention of an audience. All throughout, I really exercised my passion for the art of communication,” Shaheed said. Shaheed’s passion for communication led him to create a workshop titled “What Acting Can Teach You About Teaching,” which won best workshop award in ICELT.
One of the best parts of being a Fellow for Shaheed was the opportunity to present at international conferences, which increased the reach of Shaheed’s impact as a trainer and kept him energized. “I enjoyed coming up with new themes to present on and welcomed the opportunity to think beyond what I’m already good at. Through conferences, I developed life-long friendships and engaged in positive U.S.-Malaysia discussions. Being exposed to a wide range of educators gave me the opportunity to teach all levels,” Shaheed said.
Shaheed’s skills grew enormously as a Fellow. In addition to being an ESL teacher, he is now viewed professionally as a workshop specialist, teacher trainer, and youth motivator as well. The impact of his teaching and training in Malaysia cannot be understated: over the course of his two years as a Fellow, Shaheed taught more than 3,000 students and trained nearly 3,000 educators.
“The fellowship is not always about demonstrating and proving what you know. It’s about growing professionally in areas that you started off being curious about. The program teaches you to get comfortable with the feeling of uncertainty and the unknown. It’ll make you a more competitive professional and set you apart from the competition.”
Shaheed now teaches beginning adult ESL at Irvine Valley College in California, where he continues to use and improve the professional skills he developed as a Fellow. The English Language Fellow Program “helped me get hired because the Chair of the Department realized that I had the skills necessary to differentiate instruction, adapt to changing needs, think on the spot, and teach students from varied cultural backgrounds. Some students can speak and write, while others can’t, and navigating those drastic challenges have become easier for me after my fellowship,” Shaheed said.