Mme. Nanaz Safavi chose to teach French after her personal experiences with language learning. English is her 3rd language, and she has noticed that literature really differs from language to language.
“Even something as little as reading literature in its original language. It’s huge to be able to actually hear the author…But when I read the translation, I know it’s not the same.” She says that being able to read so many texts in her 3 languages has been a gift. It’s something she wants to introduce to her incoming students and discuss with her older ones.
People take a language all the time Safavi explains, “In high school,” they say, “Oh, yeah, I took French in high school. I don’t speak a word though.” She didn’t want her students to walk away from her class like that, she wanted her students to actually speak the language and not just take the language in school. After teaching for 26 years at 6 schools, Mme Safavi has committed to making French class special to her students.
As a teacher who is so driven by connection to her students, Mme. Safavi says COVID-19 and school closures have damaged how she teaches. “Because when you believe in doing your job well, and you feel like you’re not doing your job at the level that you are used to doing, it’s frustrating.”
When students’ cameras are off, she feels that she is losing a connection. She relies heavily on participation and the student’s reactions, but without it, it’s almost like they’re not there at all. Before the pandemic, in school, she knew when a student was “off” and she knew how to make them smile and the best way to help them learn. “I think that the students who sometimes need the most and don’t speak up are the ones that are losing out,” She added, disappointedly. COVID-19 has altered how she teaches and responds to her students.
However, Mme. Safavi isn’t ready to come to school quite yet. “I think that I would rather be in person, but only when it’s safe,” she commented. She has high-risk family members and would prefer virtual learning rather than endanger her family’s health.
Besides her love of language and reading, Safavi enjoys math and science. In fact, she pursued being an engineer before she decided she wanted to be a teacher. Reflecting back, she says, “I studied computer science, and I was nine credits away from graduation… and then I thought I don’t want to do this because I don’t want to work with computers my whole life. I want to teach. I want to be in the classroom with students, so I switched my major and I studied education.”
Later, Safavi decided she wanted to be a doctor. So she got her postbaccalaureate, took an MCAT, and applied to medical school. But she says between taking care of her kids and her personal life, she decided to remain being a teacher. Even though she has many credentials, it only took her 6 years to complete her school by taking an intense program while she had her full-time job.
To all her current and future students, she thinks that the way to excel in her class is to not stress. The best way to do well in school is to work hard, form good habits, and not to worry. She believes worrying can overwhelm a student’s ability to just do their best.
“So I always told them to just find out what they’re good at and find out what they enjoy doing. And then everything else kind of falls into place, Safavi said.
Especially now, when everything is messy and difficult, she advises to practice self-discipline and good habits because that will help you get far in school, and in life.