MSOMI EDUCATIONAL CONSULTING
I became an educational consultant in one of the world’s most multicultural spaces: New York City.
I was lucky to meet some of the most passionate and competent high school teachers within their academic fields and noticed that versatility within multicultural classrooms did not come naturally to everyone. Over the course of 6 years I assisted school management and teachers across NYC with adapting curriculum and instructional practices to better suit their specific student populations. Then I moved to another extremely diverse city – Cape Town – where I applied my (multi-)cultural competency skills in the undergraduate study abroad industry. If you are struggling with diversity & inclusion challenges in your classroom or your institution, consider bringing me on board as educational consultant.
Within the parameters of your budget, we can co-develop anything between lesson plans, curriculum modules, targeted interventions, professional development workshops or an entire course.
5 major aspects about my approach
Whatever the scope of our collaboration
Affirming the individual through languaging and translanguaging
Having primarily worked in multicultural classrooms, I have come to understand the importance of promoting each language that is spoken in the room, even if speakers are not fluent in it. Languaging, in this context, refers to playing with words, their etymology and semiotics within the language of instruction (which is usually English in my case); translanguaging has to do with sense-making in between languages, especially for multilingual speakers. Drawing from each student’s home language as a major resource is not only an essential component of welcoming diversity in the classroom, but also a key aspect of affirming holistic identities in order to build a stronger classroom community.
Learning (academic) language through content
I often compare vocabulary to a toolbox – the more tools you have, the more you can build and fix. I care deeply about gradually growing learners’ vocabulary overall, but especially academic language that enhances their ability to express themselves with more precision. I thus specialize in designing reading comprehension activities as well as writing activities that strategically get the reader/ writer to practice the application of newly learned words and concepts. A key aspect of these activities is to first teach new language through relevant and relatable content, and then expose the learner to less familiar contexts.
Cultivating the student’s identity as learner
A philosophy of promoting self-regulated learning sustains all my work and forms the base of my instructional approach. Through a combination of modeling (role play) and interactive exercises, I aim to cultivate the learner’s sense of responsibility for their own growth. These exercises include training the learner to monitor their growth towards certain learning objectives, to self-evaluate, to (re)discover curiosity and a thirst for knowledge, and to take ownership over one’s individual learning process.
Cultivating critical thinking as habit
In today’s era of misinformation and information overflow, critical thinking and media literacy seems more important than ever before. And yet, media literacy comprises so much more than fact-checking or questioning the authority of a source. Drawing from framing theory and my background in discourse analysis, I custom-design activities and learning modules that sharpen learners’ ability to consider multiple points of view, to ask elaborative questions, to analyze the explicit and implicit components of an argument, and to become aware of their subjective response while also applying an objective lens to the problem.
Cultivating collaborative learning as tradition
Collaborative learning simply means that students do not only learn from the instructor/ teacher/ lecturer, but also from each other. However, many teachers find it challenging to design activities that result in productive student talk time and collaborative learning. Utilizing aspects of game theory, modeling and role-play techniques, I custom-design a sequence of tasks that necessitate active listening, teamwork and collaborative meaning-making. In a discussion-based scenario, these tasks comprise carefully sequenced discussion prompts and facilitation guidelines. The rationale behind all of it is to strengthen the sense of community in the classroom while also affirming each learner as an essential contributor to the learning outcomes.
MSOMI, what it means to me
The Swahili word ‘msomi’ translates as scholar, intellectual, or “the one who has read.” The root verb hiding in ‘msomi’ is kusoma, which means to read. However, I don’t think this translation is straight-forward because what it means ‘to read’ varies between cultures. Coincidentally, Somi is also a clan name in Northern Tanzania as well as South Africa! It is thus one of those ancient words that has a mystical aura around it. Indeed, the process of learning is ancient and mystical. My grandmother was known as Masomi. Although she never got to go to school and never learned to write a word, no other intellectual influenced my scholarship as profoundly as she did. She specialized on reading the differences between people and saw these differences as both, natural and essential.