Zaynab Salman is a public high school history teacher in Canton, Michigan.
I'd like to think of myself as an educator who teaches from a unique perspective and cultural background. Although Canton is diverse, unfortunately, that isn’t represented in the educators in the district. Maybe this is the first time they have been in contact with an adult Muslim.
While I don't talk about religion or wear that on my sleeve—well, I wear it on my head—it’s interesting that they come in and see this totally normal person in front of the classroom who cares about protocol and procedures and is empathetic, and cares about them as a person as well as the student.
Just the other day I had a student who came in the morning. He was starting work and he got a small paper cut. I said, “Just go to the bathroom and wash it off.” He came back and it was on his right thumb.
I asked him if he was right-handed and he said yes. “Okay, let me just put on a Band-Aid on for you.” The entire class stopped. They couldn't believe that I was putting a Band-Aid on this high school student. I was like, sorry guys, this is a motherly instinct. Or maybe it's just a natural instinct.
How else was he supposed to do it?
A few students came up to me afterward, and [said] they appreciated that. They had never seen anybody do that for anybody else other than their parents.
It’s those little moments that you realize: God. That was the teaching moment today.