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Episode 41: Empowered Learners, Global Educators, and Meaningful Learning with Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali

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Maddie (03:24): Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali is a dedicated educator with a mission to empower children and families for a strong future. She completed her Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from DePaul University along with her Master’s in Elementary Education from Quincy University. She has taught with Northwestern University’s enrichment program, CTD, for four years before starting her own enrichment program, Ali Enrichment Academy. She is passionate about pushing our world’s youth to their fullest potential as they use their talents and gifts to strengthen our globe. She is the author of the children’s picture book My Loving World, content creator of YouTube’s Learning with Ms. Ali, and founder of Ali Enrichment Academy. Nishat, thank you so much for joining me on the show today.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (04:19): Thank you, Maddie. I just want to tell you that your introduction made me want to cry because, Maddie, I didn’t share this with you, but my dad was born in a village in India and the only thing that pulled him out of poverty was education. And so now, and he brought his whole family over from India. And so the fact that now the way you introduce me as an educator, who’s helping kids around our nation and hopefully our world, it’s just so touching, right? Like that effect that you get within the family. So I feel like my dad would be so proud. So thank you.

Maddie (04:51): He absolutely would be so proud. I mean, even for me, it is just truly such an honor to have you here today on the show. We talked a little bit before we started recording, but I am so inspired by your philosophy on education. You’ve recently been sharing some really interesting and impactful content about resolving conflict. You’ve been sharing content about empathy and empowering young children. You’re so inspiring to me. And it’s very clear, like I said, that you have this distinct educational philosophy. And so I’d love to hear a little bit more about your career path and what led you to your work today.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (05:31): Yeah. Thank you. Thank you so much. I’m just so grateful to be here. So appreciative of this opportunity. So Maddie, I started off as an actor. That’s why I was in California for two years. My passion as a kid was performing, I loved Bollywood. Are you familiar with the Indian film industry? I was always passionate about Bollywood and I wanted to become a big movie star. And so I moved out to LA and I was in Hollywood for two years. I was in a film. I did some print modeling. I had a Bollywood dance troupe that performed at the House of Blues on Sunset. Then I think the more I was in it, the more I realized I wasn’t willing to be an actor in LA, you have to be willing to put yourself out there.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (06:24): There’s so much you have to go through and I wasn’t willing to do that. Right. So that’s why I had to switch paths. So after leaving Hollywood, I went into advertising and it was where I always had an interest in business. I love people. So I thought, Oh, I’d be good at business. And then when I got to advertising, I was advertising for things I wasn’t passionate about. So you can imagine you’re spending all these hours, but you’re just, no, I don’t, I’m not as interested in cereal. I’m not as interested in a cell phone. You know, like it’s beautiful for those who do, but for me, it wasn’t my passion. So then I went to India for one month and I went to a place called LIFT – it’s in the Southern part of India. LIFT is “Leading India’s Future Today.”

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (07:05): And it’s basically a program and organization that houses kids who go through the most heartbreaking stories. Literally one kid saw his mom burned down a house in commit suicide with his brother in it. The parents were alcoholics. And then the grandparents took her, but then they couldn’t have her anymore. So it was just like all these kids who went through so much hardship at such a young age. And literally Maddie, when LIFT took them in, they would be crying saying, thank you. Education has saved me. Like they literally said, like, you guys don’t know what my life would have been without you helping me in education. So when I saw how education helps kids who go through so much, and even I told you my dad’s story, who came from a village that just had sugar canes. He had nothing to do there.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (07:56): I was like, literally, he just, it was all sugar canes. And they said, you need to go to get studies. You need to go because you need more, to see how education can literally change a person’s whole course of life and then help the world and help the community. It was where I just thought I literally came home from India and I said, dad, I want to be a teacher. And you can imagine my dad’s dream was for me to be a doctor. He always said, yeah, doctor, it was the Indian dream. But I said, dad, I love kids. I love helping kids. And I love education and I love I’m a learner myself. So putting all that combined said, dad, I have to be a teacher. So then I went on, this journey became a teacher. And so now I’m a teacher. And it’s my fifth year.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (08:35): It’s awesome. Fourth grade teacher in Chicago. And it’s where I taught at Northwestern because we have a summer that’s open. So I went to Northwestern university and they have an enrichment program and I started to teach there and it was just another level of excitement for education. The kids in first grade would know more the solar system than I did. I was like, I’m in my thirties. And they would know so much more about the sun than I do. And they were just, so it was like, they loved knowledge. And so that’s where I thought, you know, this is just such a beautiful program. And then one year last year, the leaders of Northwestern’s program CTD, they came to me and they said, Ms. Ali, will you create a course on global leadership? And that’s where I said, okay. So, but the only way to teach a course is you have to study it yourself.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (09:23): So I studied Barack Obama, Martin Luther King, Disney’s Bob Iger. I studied Apple, I’m studying. I was studying all these different Simon Sinek, It Starts with Why, if you know that book, and I studied all this and I put this curriculum together for this course. And Maddie was the biggest hit. The kids at the end, gave a TED Talk and you took kids who didn’t believe in their voice. And at the end, they’re like, I want to go change the world. And so to see a child again, just that, how when you empower and give them love, you literally take like a caterpillar and it just blooms. And so that’s where I realized, wow, enrichment, like to go beyond the foundation of standard, like just here’s the standard, here’s the foundation let’s go deeper and more into things that excite our kids that get them wanting to do more for our world. That’s so beautiful. And so that’s, that’s my hope for enrichment.

Maddie (10:14): I love hearing this passion of yours that you have around creating these meaningful learning experiences for students and even going back to sort of the beginning of your interest in education, it’s very clear that you had sort of these aha moments: your LIFT experience in India, your experience with your dad as well. Looking back on your own childhood and your own experiences going through the education system, is there anything that happened during your time in school that you think might have impacted your decision to go into education as well?

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (10:51): I mean, you tell me, did you ever have teachers that you loved, that you literally loved so much? For me in fifth grade I had Ms. Rice who she was like my Oprah, she was phenomenal and so cool. I loved her. And then in high school I had Ms. Flannery who I still keep in touch with to this day. So I think to have teachers who opened your mind to something that… ’cause My parents, they come with their experience, but Ms. Flannery, she taught me world religions in high school. So she opened my mind to the oneness of our world, you know? So I think to have the impact of teachers, it’s so huge. It’s so vast when you get a good teacher, there’s nothing better. So yeah, I would say it was to have such strong educators.

Maddie (11:37): That’s amazing. I love hearing that you’re still in contact with one of your teachers, I think that’s really great. One of my high school teachers, I still keep in touch with. We probably reach out once every other month or so. And it’s just so important that I feel like I have that relationship. And so much of what I do in my classroom. I sometimes think of that teacher that I had, and those projects that were really meaningful. Of course I’m an elementary school teacher, but I still think that some of the things I learned from my high school teachers directly impact my practice today. So it’s neat to hear that you have that in common. And I would imagine that other teachers who are listening right now probably can relate to that as well.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (12:17): And Maddie, there’s been people who I know who haven’t loved education as much because they go, Oh, I didn’t have such teachers. I loved and people who have said to me, Oh, but I could, I could teach myself. I can pick up a book and I go, Oh, you didn’t have an educator. You loved, you would never say that if you had a teacher, you love because it makes, it’s like a coach. It’s a different level.

Maddie (12:37): Yeah. Yeah. I love that… A word that you just used… “Coach” Too. I think that that’s something that very much aligns with my educational philosophy as well of trying to be more of a facilitator in my classroom. You know, I want to go back to, you mentioned this TED talk project, which sounds really amazing. I love this idea of amplifying student voice and making students feel really comfortable in their voices. Could you talk a little bit more about this project? It sounds really interesting.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (13:04): Oh my gosh. You would love it. So basically it was where the United Nations has 17 sustainability goals. Do you know them?

Maddie (13:16): Yes. I align most of my curriculum to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (13:22): So yeah, so basically we studied the goals and I tell my students, again, this is the enrichment program I designed for Northwestern University. So basically it’s where the kids then choose a goal that aligns with their values. So which one do you believe strongly in like climate change or clean water education for all gender equality. And so then basically then you have to take it, but you have to research and then you have to share out your voice in a way that influences people. Right? Cause TED talk, there’s literally a style to TED talks. And so we study how the TED talk works. We watch TED talks and see who’s most effective. And it’s all about bringing emotion. That’s what it is. So how can I tell my students, how can you get your audience to feel?

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (14:07): How can you get your audience to believe in what you believe? And you have to come with evidence, you have to come and strong research, which has all the skills we teach our kids. Right. Do you speak with knowledge? Do you speak with facts? And so when you get kids to come with such knowledge with research and evidence and they speak with emotion on it, it was like nothing else. I literally, there was one kid, Maddie, who I got an email this summer, this actually year, a few months, a month ago that she messaged the head of Illinois representative. And she was asking for change. I forget what the topic was, but she was asking for change and she felt that she could ask for change because of our course, like it was amazing. So yeah. So just again, more than the TED talk, it’s the empowerment of your voice matters. Believe your voice matters my kids because you are the future. So you’re our future leaders.

Maddie (14:58): Ah, that’s amazing. I’m noticing this common thread, and the reason I bring it up is because I think that this is also something that is very closely tied to the sustainable development goals. I did do a podcast about this a few episodes ago about the. Sdgs, but just in case listeners, aren’t familiar with them. They’re essentially a set of global goals that the UN put together that are essentially like these, I think it’s 17, right? 17 basically umbrella areas that hold all of the world’s problems. I’m not sure if that’s how you would, how you would describe it, but they’re global goals. And so I’m noticing the reason I’m bringing this up is that I’m noticing this thread here where not only are you trying to empower students to use their voices, but you’re also trying to empower students to explore things on more of a global scale. I’m noticing a lot of this global global theme, and I’ve noticed your book as well is called My Loving World. So I’d imagine that this is maybe a theme that’s in your classroom. Is that true?

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (16:00): You’re hitting it on the nail. My dream is to be a global educator. So when I study like Khan Academy, how they’re having education go global for everybody? I think that that’s an area you tell me, Maddie, but what if we have a global education, like genuinely have access where kids, no matter what around the world have access to strong education? It’s the whole concept of no child left behind. It’s not all only children in America. It’s not only children in India or Japan or anywhere it’s the whole world. And so that’s what I believe Maddie. I believe we’re one human family for one human family. And so no child is left behind and that’s the dream. So the only way to do that is to be a global educator.

Maddie (16:47): I love that. I really, really love that. I wanna dive deeply here into your enrichment program that you’ve created. But first I’d love to get your thoughts on enrichment programs in general. Why do you think enrichment programs are important? I know that’s a really lofty question, but I’d love to hear your perspective.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (17:09): Yeah. So, you could tell me for your location… ’cause You’re in California, but for us in Illinois, we have standards that we have to hit, correct? Like throughout the year as a teacher. So you’re expected to teach these standards. The thing is, Maddie, I feel like those are that’s the foundation that’s good, but let’s go to the next level, right? If we’re asking kids to be their best, let’s go. Like we have the foundation of reading. We got that. We have the foundation of writing and math and science, of course, social science and social emotional. But now how do we take it to the next level where you are passionate about our world? That’s kind of the goal with enrichment. There are so many more subjects we’re not studying like… We don’t study economics enough. We know that.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (17:53): And I tell my students, this money is one of the biggest things we have to handle as an adult. There’s no denying. And so at least giving our kids the skills and different ways to use money in a strong way, sets them up for success, but we don’t study that enough. I never did. And then I was still, I was not as strong with money until now in my thirties. And I’m like, I gotta be, so that’s the thing. Because to get the foundation strong, it’s so much time with the standards. So where is the time to even, even the global leadership class? How do I teach that to my kids in fourth grade right now? Because I don’t have the time for it. It’s so much just in the foundation. So for me enrichment, to be honest, shouldn’t be in the curriculum as much as possible. We just don’t have the time for it. So I think, based on the standards, we have to hit those. Let’s take it to the next level. That’s what I would say to parents. If you want to take your kid to the next level, like they’re amazing where they are. What’s the higher, what’s the next level for them? Let’s do that with enrichment. That’s how I think of it.

Maddie (18:55): Hmm. That’s a really interesting perspective of enrichment taking things to the next level. I think you hinted at this, but I’ve spoken to a lot of educators. Well… I’ll say some educators who wonder if after school education or enrichment can become the model for what the standard school day looks like. Basically this idea being that instead of enrichment becoming more and more rigid, like the school day that the school day should become more and more exploratory like enrichment.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (19:28): I didn’t hear this until you mentioned the question to me. So the only thing is, and I’m sure you know, this… Finland is considered one of the strongest education systems in the world, and they only go to school five days or sorry, five hours in a day. So they only do five hours in a day, but they’re so strong that I think to do an afterschool program after we really have to have a lot of research and science and evidence that shows it’s effective. Right. Because it’s not necessarily correlated according to what I’ve seen, that putting kids more and more, giving them more hours of work and all of that is actually more effective. And then I also do think it’s important for kids. If they genuinely have a strong education during that seven hours, like for us in America, then, you know, will they be burnt out if we continue after every day? Maybe if it’s once a day, once a week, maybe that’s different. So I’m open. I think they would just need to be really strong research and science done before. I would say that makes sense.

Maddie (20:28): Yeah. That’s interesting. I like that you bring up Finland, again, great example of you very much being a global educator and bringing up another country as an example here. So thanks for sharing that insight. I teach an afterschool enrichment class and I agree with you. For me, it’s very much about education to the next level. Could you talk a little bit about some of what you believe are some of these guiding principles of some high quality enrichment programs?

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (20:58): Yeah. So I think the number one thing you have to ask is: will my student leave my child, leave this program genuinely feeling empowered in a better version of themselves? Because that’s what I noticed, Maddie, with the giving the TED talk in studying a global United nations movement. The kids walked out going, having more confidence, believing more in themselves, believing more in action for the world. So that genuinely took them to the next level. And so that’s the number one thing I would ask. Number two… And I think you would agree with this with any strong curriculum… Is there lots of research and science and evidence behind it, like making sure that we’re teaching what’s true and effective and that goes with even good curriculum just throughout the year. So I would say that too. And then, like just asking them, is this something that will empower them to make them their best? That’s the main thing that I think of.

Maddie (21:54): Yeah. That’s great. And so in terms of taking kids to the next level, I know that you’ve started your own enrichment program. It’s very clear just from our short conversation thus far, that you have a lot of expertise and knowledge around enrichment in general. So could you share some examples of maybe some of the classes that you’re going to be teaching in this enrichment program?

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (22:15): Yeah, I’m so excited and we have some parents, please know, I have research like crazy for you and hours and hours outside of my regular job to have these courses for you. So the first one is a rising global leaders. So it’s similar to the global leader leadership class that I taught at Northwestern. And so that one will be similar rising global leaders. Again, students are studying the United nation goals, choose one that they really believe in and then they give a TED talk. So it kind of hits all the main points, especially at the end, what action will you take or call for action of others. And then the second one is money math because what I really learned that that was a whole, I saw in our education. I feel like we don’t get enough economics and financial literacy to the level that we should.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (23:00): And so yeah, so money math is all about the foundations of what is saving, what is budgeting look like? What does it mean to have an income, and creating a plan, and then also investing what is the stock market like? Let’s teach kids how that works, how to… Just all the kind of the foundations, even retirement. I know that they’re so little, but at least the exposed to what is even out there and how that works net worth, what all of that is just exposing them to that vocabulary and getting that out there to them. And then what kids would be doing in that is they would be analyzing different financial situations that are tough and challenged and they would have to course correct. So here’s somebody who comes with a lot of debt from from college student loans.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (23:41): And so now what will this person do in order to come out of it and how can they invest later to build their wealth? So things like that. So again, then we have kids who come out feeling empowered about money. So then when they get to high school and they get the jobs, or when they get even older, they’re not just going to spend up a storm. They’re not going to go buy, get credit cards and go shopping like crazy because they understand, Oh, let me pay myself first a little bit. And then let me invest, have my money, grow money. If that’s the choice they want to make, at least we can put that out there.

Maddie (24:11): Hmm. And so you say once these kids get to high school, so could you clarify what grade level these classes are for?

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (24:18): Yeah, so, because I’m a fourth grade teacher, I have designed my courses to be fourth through sixth grade. So that’s usually nine through about 12 or even 13. So, so that’s why I usually think of the next step after that would be high school.

Maddie (24:33): So to me hearing this, I completely agree that it’s so important for students to be learning about economics. Thinking back to my own experience in school, I wish that that’s something I would have had access to. I wish I would have learned more about that instead of struggling to figure all of that out when I turned 18. I’m really curious because to me that feels really young and I’d love to hear some strategies or recommendations that you have for teachers to actually have these conversations with students that age about money.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (25:06): So the thing that I’ve learned is because that is, I think some adults, we feel that because kids don’t have the money yet they’re not producing their own money. It seems like a heavy topic. The thing is the kids, what I learned cause we actually teach a little bit during class time, regular during the school year is they’re actually eager to understand what is the stock market like. Because there’s so much knowledge in today’s world. It’s not the same ideas before. They’re actually saying, how does this even work? And they even look up sometimes like CNN money.com. I have a kid going on, Ms. Ali, Apple’s doing well today. Like, they’ll be telling me and they’re in fourth grade. So I think first we have to know that the access of information our kids are exposed to is not the same as when we were growing up.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (25:48): So that’s the first, the second is it’s not to say that we want to scare them. Oh, here’s retirement. You have to pay rent and all that. It’s just at least to expose them like, Oh, if you choose a college, what college will you go to? When you come out, will you be making a certain salary too, if you’re going to take out a student loan? You know what I mean? So just kind of giving them a little bit of a foundation so they understand. And then as they get older, they can probably layer on top. So that’s the intention of the courses. It’s more… Let’s at least expose you. So you’re aware. And then of course you can always layer on later as you get older.

Maddie (26:21): How interesting. This reminds me… Before the show… We were chatting about my views around technology, right. Where I was saying that I really want to help kids build healthy relationships with technology. So that then when they’re in the real world, they know how to navigate it. And it sounds like this is very similar with your money math class, where by helping kids have exposure to having exposure to money, understanding about the stock market, budgeting, different things like that. And a lot of ways you’re also helping students build healthy relationships with money. So I think that that’s a really interesting parallel there. And thinking about sort of this real-world application of your class, I think there’s a lot of real world.

Maddie (27:10): I’m very much noticing this as a theme too, throughout this conversation that it seems like real-world application is something that’s very evident in your educational philosophy. Specifically, I think your other course about the sustainable development goals, I think that that really lends itself to having some really wonderful real-world application. I’m curious, because I think that something, when we talk about this idea of real-world education, real-world learning, there’s also a lot of that that’s very student centered and allowing students to explore their own interests. And so how do you help guide students? They have these passions, right? They have these interests in climate change or high-quality education, these different areas. How do you help sort of harness their interests and leverage that for them to be able to be empowered and have this voice to where they can become global leaders?

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (28:09): Yeah, that’s so beautifully said because we, the goal is we want our kids, ultimately, whether we’re there or not to know the process of how to educate yourself and study, because the thing is, Maddie, in today’s world, especially in technology, the access of information is so heavy. So it’s about how do we help you? If you have a topic you’re passionate about animals and maybe saving animals that are going extinct, are you researching with strong resources and multiple resources and putting that information together so that you have this knowledge and therefore you can take action. And so that’s why that’s kind of actually a reading fundamental that we teach in fourth grade is it’s called synthesizing, right? The difference here is I say to my students, are you passionate about something? Don’t tell me that Ms. Ali that you’re bored, I’m going to say go research.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (29:00): What do you want to know about what are you interested in? Go research and use multiple resources. They know I have to look at multiple sources that are strong and taking that knowledge compare and contrast, and then execute and share out what I know. So I love that that actually ties in with reading a lot. But one of the biggest things I always tell kids is if you need an extra project, you don’t need one. You already know what to do, take something you’re passionate, interested in and let’s grow. And so that’s… Are you familiar with the international baccalaureate program, right? So we’re an IB school at Ogden where I teach in the city. They’re huge on that, right? It’s like getting the kids with you. Don’t just tell them, read a book. You say, read a book that you like right. Read a book so that you fall in love with reading. And so that’s the same thing here with the projects and the research and putting it out there for the world is it’s the same concept within IB is what are you passionate about? Because if you’re passionate, you’re gonna work harder. You’re gonna study harder. You’re gonna be excited to not just due to resources, you’re going to find five resources because you’re so into the topic. And then from that, you’ll take action and create that.

Maddie (30:04): What a great way to help students fall in love with the process of learning. Something that I’m just continuing to be so fascinated with is this idea that you can really leverage student interests and things that they’re passionate about and simultaneously find ways to embed standards. I think the example that you just gave about, in fourth grade synthesizing and research is something that is a standard that you guys have to have to teach your students. But the fact that you’re able to think about the things that students are interested in and figure out, okay, well, there’s this great standard that I think that we can embed here is a really creative approach to teaching. And just like you’re saying, you know, this, taking it to the next level. I think that that is a really, really great idea.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (30:54): Yeah. And Maddie, don’t you feel like to only teach to standards, you’re going to lose so many kids because not all kids are motivated by grades. Not all kids are like, Oh, I need to get straight As like, but if you get kids to love learning, let’s hit the standards because that measures with your knowledge and skillset. That’s the dream. I think of education. Here’s the foundation. And then how do we get you to love the learning and be your best mix that together? And boom, you have a phenomenal student who’s their best.

Maddie (31:25): Amazing. I mean, it’s so clear. I mean, just listening to you speak you and watching you too. Right now we’re on Zoom, and you’re lighting up so much. It’s so clear that you are so passionate about this work that you’re doing with students. It’s clear that there’s so much intention behind what you’re doing. I know that you mentioned that you’ve done a ton of research for teachers who are listening right now, who are really excited about these ideas and want to learn more. Are there any resources or articles or books or TED talks or anything that’s related to these big topics that we’ve been talking about that you think teachers might enjoy checking out?

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (32:04): Well I think the United Nations website is amazing, and that’s such a good project because it informs the kids about their future. So when we study climate change and they choose that goal, that’s literally what you’re working towards as a future. And then now we’re talking about Mars, right? Getting to Mars. So how cool that when you it’s like these global themes, again, like you want to bring that forth. ‘Cause Kids are, they want to know what’s going on in their world. But as far as other websites, do you know Lucy Calkins? Educators on my team would laugh because they know I’m such a fan of Teacher’s College’s reading and writing projects. And some people have mixed reviews on it, but I’m so passionate about the philosophy of Lucy Calkins and how they teach, because it’s all about just loving reading and writing in the real life.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (32:57): So I would say to any, any teachers out there, if you never were taught how to read well, with the love of reading, pick up a Lucy Calkins book. She creates lifelong learners who love to read and write. And that’s what she did to me. It changed my world the way she taught reading in her whole team. I literally now fall in love with reading. If you see, I have so many books and it’s not because anyone’s grading me it’s because I genuinely, Oh, I want to take in this knowledge, I’m making a movie in my mind. When I read to the kids, I say, enjoy the show because it’s like, I go make a movie in your mind. And I learned this from, I learned this from Lucy, like, so I would say but again, it’s hit or miss because some people, I don’t know if you have to be trained on it. Some of my colleagues don’t love it, but she changed how I read and then even writing, it’s like writing up for a movie the way she teaches writing. ‘Cause It’s literally storytelling and, you know, let the problem get worse before it gets better. I mean, it was just such high level thinking it’s so Lucy Calkins, I would, I can’t wait to meet her one day. I hope I meet her one day and just say, you made me love reading and writing. I didn’t have this love before I learned this curriculum.

Maddie (34:07): That’s awesome. I’ll be sure to have the United Nations website and some Lucy Calkins resources linked in the show notes for listeners to check out. A lot of people really love Lucy Calkins. I think that there’s bits and pieces that you can take and really adapt to work with your specific set of students. It doesn’t work for everybody. It doesn’t work for every teacher, every classroom, every student. But I think this idea, this framework, that you’re talking about, about helping students, it all goes back to empowerment, right? Continuing to empower students to become lifelong learners. So I think that that mindset that Lucy Calkins provides is something that teachers, no matter your views on her curriculum or the things the resources that she’s created, I think that that mindset specifically is something that teachers can really adapt and implement in their classrooms. Speaking of reading, you’ve written a children’s book. I’d love to hear more about your book. It’s called My Loving World. Could you share more about this book and how it relates to your practice?

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (35:28): Yeah. So teachers, if you’re out there, let me tell you that this is a great book for theme because the theme is all about, we get caught up in labels, if somebody’s racist, what their religion is, what they look like on the outside, but it’s all about get to know someone from the inside. And when you do, you have so much more in common and we’re just, we’re all in it together. So it’s about one world and one human family, all of us on this planet together. And it was the reason it came about, Maddie, is because in my own life, I was seeing people push other people away for being a different race of religion. And it was kind of like one of those things where, Oh, it’s okay if you’re, you know, over here, but you know, a little bit on the other side, and you’re a different race or religion, but you can’t be so close, you know, like you can’t be in my inner circle.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (36:18): And that’s where I just thought: we got to stop this. We got to stop fighting each other. Right? Like, it’s like, we’re all in it together. This is one planet. And that’s why we talk about the globe. But to be honest, they’re not separate. Like these countries might be physically separate, but we’re just, we’re all humans on this planet together. So if we work together, how much stronger are we instead of fighting each other? And so the whole concept is to come together as one and not from a little bit of a distance. So it’s okay from over here, no, like right up close, but let’s get in it together. We’re one human family. Let’s be loving, let’s help each other. Let’s lift each other up, and be stronger together as a world. So that’s kind of the whole concept of My Loving World.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (37:00): And you would love this the Spanish version Mi Mundo Amoroso. And we read to the kids three schools, over a hundred students and families, my loving world and being with them, but also, and it was so touching Maddie. The kids in Honduras, they all said, I feel special because of my heart. I feel special because you know, I’m different in whatever way. Like the kids genuinely found beauty in themselves. And then they were saying, Oh, it’s, it’s beautiful to be different. And to hear that from kids, you know, like it just, it was so touching. So just again, reiterating that, you know, we’re in it together.

Maddie (37:41): That’s amazing. I think that’s such an important message for students to feel like not only are the people around them beautiful, but that they are as well. So that’s a really beautiful message that you just shared. I can’t wait to check out your book. I am definitely going to buy it so that I can share it with my students. So thank you so much for sharing that again for listeners, I’ll have it linked in the show notes in case you guys would like to check it out. You’re so amazing. I mean, clearly I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you. I really enjoyed our conversation for listeners who are as excited about you as I am. How can they find you? Where can they find you online? All those details.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (38:19): So Learning with Ms. Ali on Instagram. I’m on Facebook and on YouTube. So please join us on YouTube. I try to put out a new video with kids in it because we model and kids learn from each other. Every two weeks I try to do it, but yeah, subscribe and come onto YouTube. And then My Loving World is on Amazon. And then Ali Enrichment Academy is new. We’re launching this summer in July. And of course, we have an Instagram and Facebook, a website that’s connected all through those social media accounts and yeah, just come check it out.

Maddie (38:59): Amazing. So I will have your Instagram, your YouTube channel, your enrichment, all of those details, everything you just shared. I’ll be sure to have linked in the show notes for listeners to find you. Thank you so much for joining me on the show today. I feel like you just have so much passion and energy around education and enrichment and this continued theme of taking it to the next level. I learned so much from our conversation, so thank you so much.

Nishat Firdous Jehan Ali (39:29): Thanks Maddie. And I just want to thank you because it’s my favorite thing to collaborate with other educators and around the nation. So it’s just so awesome. I love it. And so just thank you for reaching out and creating.

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