Engineer, teacher and tech innovator: Ammar’s story

Ammar Aldaoud

Cohort 2014

Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical and Computer Systems) from Monash University

Teaching areas
Information Technology, Mathematics, Physics, Technology Studies

Current employment
PhD Candidate at Melbourne University

After finishing his degree in electrical engineering, Ammar was looking for a meaningful way to pursue his passion. “I wanted to do something different that would have a positive societal influence,” he says.

He hadn’t considered teaching before hearing about Teach For Australia’s Leadership Development Program.“But I enjoy a challenge,” Ammar says. “The prospect of teaching full time while studying sounded exciting.”

He was placed at Emerald Secondary College in Victoria, where he taught information technology, mathematics, physics and technology studies.

As a teacher, he had autonomy and purpose – and the opportunity to play around with his skills. “I wrote automated software to create seating arrangements for my classrooms, affectionately referred to as ‘the Ammar 2000’ by the assistant principal,” he says. “The ‘Ammar 5000’ was a direct link between a camera and Powerpoint slides, which I would use to write out lessons with textas to create stop-motion capture style maths problems.”

The Leadership Development Program challenged Ammar in ways he didn’t expect. “It took me over a year to learn, with the help of my academic specialist, that I too enter the classroom with different ideas, values, beliefs and experiences. As the only adult in the classroom, my experience likely has the most impact on how the classroom functions.”

As a leader in the classroom, he developed his skills in emotional intelligence. He learned how to engage others and understand self. “All teachers care about their students, but for me, showing this care took significant effort as I had to exercise this new mental muscle called emotional labour. This was the most challenging and rewarding learning from my time in the classroom. Caring about students was not difficult, but learning how to show that care every day took time.”

Now, he’s taking on a whole new challenge: “I’m currently working on my Ph.D at the University of Melbourne. I’m looking at techniques to wirelessly power biomedical implants.”

Outside of his studies, Ammar is also actively involved with Teach For Australia as an assessor, which involves screening candidates for the next Teach For Australia cohorts. “I’m also working part time for Maths Pathway, which is an education technology initiative born out of the minds of two Teach For Australia Alumni. Their innovative software individualises maths learning, providing content and assessment to every student at their point of need,” he explains. After he finishes his Ph.D, Ammar will join Maths Pathway full time.

But he also has longer term plans: “The Maths Pathway program is transforming the way students learn maths. However, other subjects could do with a similar overhaul. Teaching young people to code is an emerging priority and I’m interested in combining my electronic engineering experience with my teaching experience to create a tool to teach students to code.”

Teaching gave Ammar purpose: “The meaningful and challenging work that teachers do resembles that of a highly effective leader. Think about it: a teacher must engage a hundred or so individual students with entirely different personalities and needs and motivate them to learn.”

Leadership is a set of skills and behaviours that enable someone to mobilise others to bring about change. Associates learn the necessary skills to lead effectively both inside and outside the classroom.

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