Saniha Dakhan: Station by Station Learning
Updated: Apr 14, 2022
Saniha Dakhan of Benfer Elementary always wanted to teach. In Pakistan, Saniha’s mother ran a Montessori school and would tutor in the evenings. Before age 10, Saniha leaned towards tutoring those younger than her. Teaching came naturally to her from a young age and has stuck with her ever since.
When Saniha moved to the U.S. and started teaching, she ran into some surprising differences. The one main difference she found is that US-style teaching is much more hands-on. “Especially when you are teaching math, you are using manipulatives. You are starting off with concrete and moving to pictorial models, then to abstract,” she said. The whole process, according to her, has guided her in the way she approaches professional development opportunities.
“It’s all about growth mindset,” Saniha said. “For me, I need to develop myself, so I can help the kids.” When coming to Klein Independent School District, she found ample professional development opportunities. These allow her to learn and improve her teaching practices continually.
Student engagement can wane in lectures, so Saniha leans away from whole group learning. Instead, she emphasizes math workshops in the classroom. She explained these workshops as “a model where you have different rotations going on – teacher stations, independent workstations, working in groups, and technology stations. It gives the students time to practice the skills we already taught.” Saniha sees these math workshops as an important part of her larger teaching strategy. She finds that when students are actively engaged and moving from station to station, they learn more efficiently and any knowledge gaps come to light quickly and can be addressed.
Technology is also big in Saniha’s classroom. She has Chromebooks in her classroom to keep her students connected to the latest breakthroughs. At the same time, just because technology is present doesn’t mean she forgets about other means. She still emphasizes group work in her classroom as a counter-balance. While it does tend to make the room get a bit louder, she knows it can help the students who are struggling to engage in class.
Photos courtesy of Saniha Dakhan