Meet Mr Velji!
Written by Alexander Academy in Blog on March 16, 2022
My name is Murtaza Velji and I’ve been a secondary teacher since 2014.
I’ve had the enlightening privilege to teach Canadian curriculum in China and Malaysia before returning to Canada in mid 2021.
As a strong proponent of the journey as the destination, my winding path back to Canada brought me unique experiences that highlight just how much more there is for all of us to learn from one another.
In our B.Ed program at UBC, we were provided skills to help with the learning needs of English Language Learners, but that does not compare to experiencing it firsthand and at the scale of a full class over many years. It was fascinating seeing what a dramatic difference regional upbringings make to a learner’s experience, especially in a Canadian high school setting. The experience has already become invaluable, especially at a school as culturally diverse as Alexander Academy.
Over the years, I had the opportunity to teach a wide spread of science and math subjects at the high school level before finding my passion teaching programming and technology. With the global pandemic at hand, teachers and students found themselves trying to get the absolute most out of technology in an efficient and effective manner. In response, my teaching shifted from not only instructing students, but also assisting my colleagues with professional development on technology pedagogy in the class.
My path brought me to one underlying idea—create, contribute, and cultivate a highly technologically literate community. This takes many forms and scales from the school community all the way to the general population. Currently, my focus has been around creating social awareness of our digital footprint. Our digital footprint is a double-edged sword, so the goal is providing tools so individuals can make to make an appropriate and informed choice. While the programming classes provide this information to a computer science-focused group, many others who would benefit from the same information miss out. This is why I have taken steps towards creating a Makerspace and established a STEAM club, open to all students on campus to drop by and try new things in a low-stakes environment.
By implementing the Maker mindset (“Have an idea for something to build? Let’s make it ourselves!”), it fuels creative, critical, and globally-minded problem solvers. It also provides a chance for students to see how the subjects they learn about fit together, merge, and overlap.
The importance of digital literacy truly didn’t sink in until several years into my post-secondary education, and there is still so much more to be learned from my colleagues. With the development and pace of technology now, we all—teachers and students alike—need to collaborate and share the things we took so long to realize.
The future for technology can be bright, and the chances are even better if we provide one another with good kindling.
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