The participants in the forum included teachers and administrators from both full-time Islamic schools, as well as weekend programs, and others with a particular interest in the development of teacher trainings. The question that shaped the conversation was "How can American Islamic schools enhance the quality of teaching in their weekend and full-time schools?"
Ms. DeCuir shared with the audience much of the research that has been done on Islamic Schools in America that informs the context in which teachers are operating. This included the work documenting the history of the development of Islamic Schools in America, which brought to surface the decentralized nature of Islamic schools that can slow down the process of schools reaching the stage of successful operations, while on the other hand allowing operations to proceed without much bureaucracy once they reach operational success. This research also showed the financial and operational constraints that are in place across Islamic schools, the process of seeking accreditation and the minimal association with local and state bodies.
A key focus on the presentation was on Instructional leadership. After identify the stakeholders in American Islamic Schools, including: school leaders, staff, faculty, parents, students, alumni, community members and academics, Ms. DeCuir talked about models of leadership in education that work with educators and parents. She further discussed different approaches that considered an Islamic worldview, task orientation and Instructional leadership. Her approach pulls from the teachings of Imam Al Ghazali, that reflect approaches to education that are considered to be very new and innovative advancements, such as differentiated instruction, subtle suggestions and compassion, and vertical planning. Imam Al Ghazali's teachings further emphasize that educators need to be sympathetic to students, follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and practice and live what they know and teach.
The Fairfax Institute, the educational outreach division of IIIT, will be offering training courses in the coming year with Amaarah DeCuir. Courses will be offered separately for teachers in full-time Islamic schools, teachers in weekend schools and educational leaders and administrators. These courses will be offered at the Fairfax Institute in Herndon VA, each course will meet for eight weeks. Registration will be open in 2013. Schools who would like to have workshops offered in their locations can contact the Fairfax Institute to schedule a training, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org