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Supporting Emerging Teachers: An Interview with New Faculty Member Nada Ahmed


Nada Ahmed, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, is the co-director of NYU Teacher Residency. She has eighteen years of experience working with high-need urban public schools and districts around the United States providing coaching and professional development to new and experienced teachers. Her research, teaching, leadership, and practice interests are centered on fostering equity in urban schools and communities. 

Nada Ahmed

Nada Ahmed

You work to foster equity in urban schools and communities. Are there any initiatives that you are involved in that you are particularly excited about?

I am currently engaged in research using improvement science and design innovation to build a collaborative. This collaborative includes diverse voices from 200-plus national community organizations, higher education institutions, and PK-12 schools across the United States that are working together to build models to support students and communities.

Our partnership collaborative, comprised of stakeholders from PK-12 schools, higher education institutions, and community organizations, will be forming networks focused on action research. Each group will be organized by a NYU facilitator team and will meet remotely in small groups to tackle problems, create solutions, and design innovative models to impact the future of schooling and how we work with students, communities, and families. The groups will look equity and access for emergent bilingual students and students with special needs, anti-racist education, social-emotional learning and responsive classroom practices, as well as ways of enhancing the experiences of teacher education students in schools and community settings.

We provide emerging teachers with the tools to understand community assets and how to leverage such “funds of knowledge” in their practice."

Nada Ahmed, visiting assistant professor
Teacher at whiteboard

Can you tell me about your current research project, Learners as Leaders?

Last year I was part of a team that received a NYU Diversity and Innovation grant that enabled us to partner with different community organizations in under-resourced communities to bring teachers, families, and communities together to engage in arts-based dialogue events. Learners as Leaders is a research project that encourages emerging teachers to actualize concepts such as equity, leadership, and advocacy (which are often discussed in course work and in their placements) in an effort to help them understand diverse perspectives and uncover their blind spots. This is particularly important for emerging teachers who might view themselves as leaders for only certain communities or leaders who feel compelled to “fix” communities.

Through Learners as Leaders, we provide emerging teachers with the tools to understand community assets and how to leverage such funds of knowledge in their practice. In this way, emerging teachers are supported in their effort to bridge family and community and to use an asset-based lens to view family and community as resources for strengths-based teaching. Once placed in schools, we strive to ensure our emerging teachers are addressing the schools’ needs, acting as a leader and advocates for their students, and advocating for themselves within the school-space.

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