Aisha Sheikh
Designer, Strategist, Educator, Entrepreneur

Abstract Thoughts / Concrete Ideas

My thoughts and beliefs through words and images. Some contributions by others.

10 Lessons I Learned from The Nueva School


1. Students look up, when you don’t look down (at them).

2. Teaching is learning. About everything. Be open to everything.

3. Intrinsic Motivation is everything. Find ways to give students the feeling that they have permission to do anything in class. A risk-taking mindset is developed internally but influenced externally by the defined culture. for example, when you recognize students are not motivated, act early by providing as many different types of resources as possible to get them excited to learn (think outside the box here).


4. Connecting with students is important. Seeing the whole student allows you to connect better in the classroom. There is a difference between how a student feels seen vs. just seeing the student. We’re fortunate that we can sit on airplanes with students and walk along the Inca Trail. It’s a moment to engage, create memories, and see you as a person outside of the classroom.


5. Flip everything you know about the teacher’s role in the classroom as the sage. You can lead by facilitating. Sharing authority in the classroom allows a student to feel seen, but also keeps the action potentials firing so that they learn more — which, let’s be honest, isn’t that the point?


6. Remember to differentiate and be prepared to scaffold on the fly. Even after you’ve done it all and you feel like the student’s learning and engagement is hopeless, remember that each student’s temperament is different. It helps you figure out whether you need to cheer them on louder, give them another example, or simply give them space.

7. Seek modeling from everywhere in order to find your own style. During this search, remember to allow yourself to be yourself, and trust yourself. Teaching is a mastery that takes years of crafting and continuous learning.

8. Learning happens outside of the classroom. Seize every opportunity. There were two memorable moments where I had a chance to see learning in the eyes of a student. First, I did the Shadow a Student Challenge, second, I sat in a classroom in Peru, where I was hosted by one of the students. It brought up many questions: Do students feel connected to their teachers? I find that students overall disengage with teachers they don’t really connect with. How can I make my classes more engaging at the end of the day?What if everyone did this exercise as part of teacher training?

It seems obvious, but it was a good reminder that when a student likes a teacher they listen more. Students appreciate authenticity of personality.


9. Let go. Pivot if you need to in class. Know when you need to let go of control. Assess the energy, understand the external factors happening in the community or in the world that might interfere with your plan. Processing and learning is not just about how great of a speaker you are.

10. Define your own boundaries. Break the conventions of being an adult. DAB a little! Being human is important to students, and even motivates them to learn from you. WARNING: You may get teased in the process when students discover that you were born in the 80s (that’s old) and use a ton of #hashtags on Instagram, but at least they will know that you’re human!

Dabbing at Machu Picchu