Welcome to Class Rocks! I appreciate you coming to visit, and I hope you enjoy your stay.

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This site is partly my personal portfolio and partly my collection of resources, thoughts, and experiences which I hope other teachers, students, and parents may find useful. Use the navigation above to find what interests you, or click the tabs to the left to learn more about me!

My name is Mohammad.

Born and raised in San Diego,  I aspired from an early age to learn a variety of things and to pass them to others. My favorite TV channels were the Food Network and the Discovery Channel. I loved finding things, making things, and learning how things worked. And best of all, I wanted to share these fascinations with others.

My love for teaching started early on.

My mother worked at the mosque (islamic church) Monday through Saturday. On Saturdays, we would attend classes there in the mornings, but afterwards, my brothers and I would stay there for the remainder of the day. I would often gather the other students from the playground and offer to do my own “class” from what I had learned. I would sit in the library, making my own worksheets and tests for them. It was a little bit cringe-worthy, but it was what I loved to do.

Later on, I became part of the Muslim Youth Group at the Vista Mosque, where I was a youth leader for three years during high school. During my junior and senior year, I was offered a paid position after school as a science peer tutor. Eventually, I decided to focus my studies in Geology and Earth Sciences, since my favorite teacher had taught this subject. This focus took me through college until I had earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Geological Sciences.

After graduating,

I searched for work in the field of Geology, but at the time, my resolve had faltered a little as my attention focused on family issues. I did not want to leave my family here when they needed me, even though the majority of entry level positions were offered in other parts of the country. I eventually found a local position as a teacher at a tutoring center, where I worked for one year, before moving off on my own and tutoring privately. During my time at the center, I developed a zeal for gaining the knowledge to teach any subject. I taught all levels of Math, English, Reading, Science, History, even things like Spanish, French and ESL.

At the same time, I became involved with the Muslim community in San Diego, namely City Heights, which is a cultural melting pot. I was especially interested in languages, since I had studied German in school and Arabic at the mosque and overseas. But I also met people from various countries who spoke many languages. Each time I met someone who spoke a new language, I learned from them ‘How are you?’ or the equivalent phrase, until I had collected about 30 languages. I became fascinated with grammar and languages.

Currently,

I work for a few school districts as a substitute teacher and I also teach and tutor on the side. I started this website with the vision to share my love and experience for teaching and learning with those I meet and those I have yet to meet.

On a broad scale, my objectives is to utilize the skills, talents, and education I have fostered in my life to be a means of benefit for all of those around me, whether this means guiding aspiring youth to their dreams, being a part of a grand and humanitarian project, or simply to be a good example for my family. I wish for the opportunity to leave my home, collect the good qualities of the people I meet, and bring those qualities back to my home. I hope to join a global community of knowledge workers and cooperate in this objective.

(in reverse chronological order)

B.S. Geological Sciences, San Diego State University – May, 2016

I became involved with the San Diego State University Geology Department months before my attendance there. On my first visit, I found the chairman, Dr. David Kimbrough, running a program for children called Show Me Geology (see Experience). Once again, I had found my love of teaching and became involved on a bi-weekly basis ever since then. I studied at SDSU for two years before I was awarded a B.S. in Geological Sciences. During these two years, my coursework included geology-related courses, such as Structural Geology, Geophysical Analysis, Geomorphology, Geochemistry, Petroleum Geology, Volcanology, and many others. I also studied Data Analysis, Rhetorical Writing, California Geography, and a diverse array of other course.

A large portion of my academic experience involved laboratory and field work. I learned to make work well independently and as part of a team in various settings, some simple, but others complex. I learned to be meticulous when it came to measurement, data recording, and following directions. I also learned to be tenacious. For one semester-long field mapping project, I personally dug nearly 300 holes in the sand, taking compass measurements of our findings and compiling these onto a presentable poster in Adobe Illustrator.

Under the supervision of Dr. Vic Camp, I took on a thesis project titled El-Najjar ’16 – Field and Petrochemical Description of the Mount Calavera Volcanic Dome, Carlsbad, California, wherein Dr. Camp and I retrieved samples of an overlooked formation in Carlsbad and attempted to describe and classify it according to sample composition, texture, and shape. Read the full paper here.

A.A. Liberal Arts with an Emphasis in Mathematics and Science, MiraCosta Community College – June, 2014

After graduating from high school, I attended community college before university. I studied for one year at Palomar College, then transferred to MiraCosta Community College in Oceanside for another two years to complete my A.A. in Liberal Arts and prepare to transfer to San Diego State University. During these three years, my education was general and included two semesters of German, Honors Geology, Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Sciences, Geography, English Language Arts, Literature, and Political Science.

(in reverse chronological order)

Substitute Teacher @ Multiple school districts – January 2019 to Present

I decided to become a substitute teacher after a friend of mine told me about his experiences working for San Diego Unified School District. I completed my 30-Day Substitute Teaching Permit in December 2018 and immediately began applying to work. I am employed under a number of districts, including Fallbrook, Lakeside, Grossmont, and Jamul-Dulzura. My first few days as a substitute teacher were very tough, especially in elementary schools, but I soon found each challenge a learning experience and learned more about myself than anything.

Private Tutor via Wyzant.com – November 2018 to Present

Since leaving Cambridge Learning Center, I have privately tutored several students in English, Reading, Math, Science, Arabic, Test Preparation, and many other subjects.

Teacher @ Cambridge Learning Center – September 2017 to November 2018

I first began working at Cambridge Learning Center after my zeal for formal teaching had been buried beneath the need to sustain myself, but soon find myself a part of a family of hardworking students. Here, I and other teachers took on groups of 5 to 8 students and helped with homework, projects, study skills, and test preparation. I also tutored many topics privately through Cambridge, including ESL with an adult student from China. Finally, during the summer of 2018, I conducted a Reading workshop which met every Saturday with students of various comprehension levels from 2nd grade to 8th grade. I had to develop a curriculum and worksheets all on my own. Although I loved the students like my family, the hours were too few and too inconvenient for me to continue, so I decided to quit.

Unemployed – June 2017 to September 2017

After leaving Home Depot, I focused my efforts on my family and on applying with a new energy to careers in the earth sciences, but most positions I found required a Master’s degree, and I did not wish to move away for college while my family still needed me. I devoted my time between resume rewriting sessions and applications to teaching Arabic and Islamic studies in the Escondido and City Heights mosques.

Lot Associate @ The Home Depot – November 2016 to June 2017

It took me sometime to find a job after I had returned from India. My hopes of becoming a geologist slowly dwindled as I could not find an advisor to study my Master’s degree, nor would any company hire me. Eventually, I got a job at Home Depot in order to help my family. I worked there for six months and met many employees and customers who spoke different languages. This was where I had begun collecting ‘How are you?’s from the people I met. I left because I found no advancement from the position I had taken. Others I had helped to train moved into more desirable positions before I had, even though I had asked, so eventually, I left in order to push myself towards something greater.

Unemployed – June 2016 to November 2016

After graduating SDSU with a Bachelor’s of Science, I decided to take an opportunity to travel before pursuing a career or Master’s degree, in order to widen my perspective and expose myself to other cultures. I traveled to India, where I had originally planned to stay for several months, though only stayed four weeks due to visa complications. I also spent time volunteering with the Islamic communities in Arizona and San Diego county during that time. In India, I made many friends and learned a lot about the culture of other people.

When I returned, efforts to get back into school or into employment was met with unexpected challenges. Although many of my colleagues went off to continue their studies or find work in their fields, I never regret the time I took to travel.

Events Coordinator @ Associated Geology Students SDSU – September 2015 to May 2016

While at SDSU, I became involved with the Associated Geology Students of SDSU, an organization of students who support one another in study and conduct seminars, trips, banquets, and events to keep students involved. During my second year at SDSU, I took on the role as Events Coordinator, wherein I and other officers dealt with the logistics of setting up student study sessions, fundraisers, and group field trips.

Volunteer Teacher @ Islamic Foundation of San Diego Masjid Nur – June 2014 to Present

Since attending SDSU, I also became an active member of the Islamic community in San Diego. In addition to assisting with coordinating and conducting community events, I also volunteered my time to teaching Arabic language (reading and writing) and Islamic studies in the presence of other teachers. These studies were sometimes done as a group or on a one-to-one basis.

Show Me Geology Volunteer @ San Diego State University – June 2014 to June 2016

Show Me Geology is a program organized through San Diego State University Department of Geology, the objective of which is to expose young students to the earth sciences early on. Usually every other week, on Friday morning, groups of students from grades 4 through 8, up to 100 in number each day, are invited on campus. They are then split up into three different stations: Minerals, Fossils, and Earthquakes. The students remained at each station for about an hour, where teachers and volunteers helped the students learn about earth processes and careers in the earth sciences. As a volunteer, not only did I make myself ready for any task which was needed, but I also helped to organize and streamline some of the rotations and presentations to make them easier for younger students to follow.

Baylor Brooks Scholarship Award

Departmental Service Award

English – My native language and the language I grew up speaking. Even among native speakers, however, I believe that my proficiency surpasses that of many others due to my exposure to grammatical and syntactical features of other languages. I have a passion for English grammar, phonetics, reading, and literature and, although it is not a simple or straightforward language, it is certainly not the most difficult.

Arabic – My exposure to Arabic was from a young age. My father spoke it, but also spoke English. Even so, our household was an English speaking one; however, we did put focus on reading and writing, especially since our Islamic book is in Arabic. In middle school, I lived in Lebanon for two years and studied Arabic grammar, as well as colloquial speaking Arabic of the Levants (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine). I also have taught reading, writing and grammar informally as a member of the Islamic community in San Diego. Arabic is a beautiful and rich language which can be intimidating, especially to English speakers, since it has a lot of unfamiliar features, but the rules of grammar and writing are also far more dependable than in English. The most difficult part of Arabic, however, is the spoken language. There are more than 25 countries in which Arabic is spoken by a majority of their populations and each one of those has its own (or even multiple) dialects, some of which are nearly unintelligible with one another.

German – I studied German for two years in high school and two semesters in community college. The first time I elected to take the language in high school, I only saw it as a refreshing and exciting alternative to Spanish. While studying it, I found that it was a fun, yet challenging language, especially when it comes to its grammar. The most challenging part of German was practicing to speak it, since I hadn’t met many native speakers who didn’t insist on speaking English to me, and those who spoke German spoke it rather quickly. The second time I took German in MiraCosta, I intended to master it to a fluent level and put it into practice. Once again, I didn’t quite reach this goal since our class mostly spoke English. However, I learned much more about grammar in general than I did specifically about German.

Indonesian/Bahasa – Bahasa Indonesia is actually a dialect of Malay, or Bahasa Melayu. I learned this language rather recently when I met my wife and traveled to meet her and her family for the first time. I spent three weeks in West Java, but before that, I studied the language independently. I found it a very fun and easy to learn language: no grammatical gender, no verb conjugation, no plurals. After only a couple weeks, I was to an elementary speaking level. I now study books and other sources in the language, in addition to listening to lectures and watching movies in Bahasa or with Bahasa subtitles.

American Sign Language – I was first seriously interested in ASL only recently when I substituted for a Special Education class in which teachers and students used it to communicate. I found it a fun language to learn and easy to teach as well. To practice learning it, I teach what I have learned to my brothers, family, and friends, after which we can communicate in secrecy using it.

Mandarin Chinese – I began studying Mandarin fairly recently and only because of how difficult everyone claimed that it is. To be fair, Mandarin is difficult, mostly because of the sheer quantity of iconographs and characters one is expected to memorize, as well as their proper tones, usage, and meanings, in order to communicate above an elementary level. However, if one moved past the characters, Chinese has a simple and straightforward grammar which is actually simpler than English in many ways.

Other Languages – There are many many other languages that I would love to study more, including Turkish, Russian, Spanish, French, Swahili, and many others.

States Visited: California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Nevada, Utah

Countries Visited: United States, Mexico, Lebanon, India, Turkey, the Netherlands, China, Macao, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan

Religiosity: Due to personal and religious beliefs, I do not publicize photographs of myself or of others. I also regularly dress in customary islamic clothing while out of the house. My religion does not make it mandatory for me to do so, but I chose to do this as an expression of my beliefs. Growing my beard is a part of my religion as well, and, due to religious beliefs, I do not cut or trim it.

A few facts about my background

  • The hat I wear is called a KOOFI.
  • The long robe that I wear is called a QAMEES (like the Spanish word Camisa)
  • My religion is ISLAM and I am a MUSLIM.
  • My ethnicity is PALESTINIAN from my father and WHITE AMERICAN from my mother.
  • I am ARAB, not ARABIC. ARABIC is the name of the language, not the people.

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