Rania Zaki Named Recipient Of 2021 Prime Minister’s Awards For Teaching Excellence
Rania Zaki, a teacher from Cottingham Junior Public School
in Toronto, has been named the recipient of Ontario Certificate of Achievement for 2021.
“Our children are truly fortunate to have Rania as a teacher. She is a true mentor, a remarkable leader, and a gifted educator. She has faced the unprecedented challenges of the past months with her strength of character. She has created profound joy in a year when so much has been taken away. Rania’s commitment to teaching is infused with an added curiosity — a willingness to learn from those whom she is teaching,” said a parent.
Rania’s approach is based on tapping the creative powers of her students, on encouraging them to take initiative and develop their leadership skills. She works tirelessly to create a classroom setting and a remote learning environment that honours mental health, physical health, and general well-being. Her teaching is an ongoing commitment to nurture and support her students. This is evident in all that she does.
To encourage leadership, Rania allows students to share their knowledge. This is an invaluable exercise and allows students to become increasingly confident by showcasing their strengths. Classmates learn from each other and feel empowered to teach their teacher. Having a teacher who shares the ‘stage’ with the class is one of Rania’s greatest gifts. She always emphasizes a key teaching principle: “Share with your fellow students what you have learned. Constructive peer reviews are an essential element of the learning process.”
Whether teaching in person or remotely, Rania supports her students with a wide range of resources. She delivers original learning programs and proposes innovative projects that spark joy and curiosity in her classroom. And she has a unique ability to use digital technologies to foster creativity and improve student learning and outcomes. Without her ingenuity, the students would not thrive as they have done during the pandemic.
With Rania at the helm, the transition to a remote learning platform has been a seamless one. As students participate in her lessons – online these days – they are empowered to fine-tune skills she transmits in the classroom. Led by Rania, the class engages in spirited collaborative brainstorming sessions on the digital whiteboard, Jamboard. They share ideas and thoughts and ask questions using virtual sticky notes. Also, Rania teaches her students how to effectively use such tools as kahoot! (a game-based learning platform) and Google Slides, preparing them to create and present their assignments to their classmates.
Cultural differences and inclusiveness are always celebrated in Rania’s classroom. She brings an awareness of societal issues to her students, for example by reading topical articles and books, and discussing issues around accessibility and integration. Through their Media Literacy studies she teaches the children about community and the power of giving back by initiating the “Socks for Souls” fundraising campaign. The children created an awareness campaign to raise money to buy socks for people in need and they raised around $1000 toward this worthy cause providing them skills and tools they will use constructively throughout their lifetimes.
The Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence have honoured exceptional elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines since 1994, with over 1,600 teachers honoured to date.