The ISLA Retreat provides an opportunity for educators to engage in in-depth exploration of a specific theme. Each theme is carefully chosen for its timeliness and relevance to Islamic school leaders.
Previous years’ themes are listed below.
Reorienting Our Hearts and Minds:
A Paradigm Shift in Leading Islamic Schools
What effect does the spiritual health of your heart and mind have on you as an Islamic School leader? How does it influence your ability to successfully instill moral and ethical values in your staff and students? How does it define your leadership? How does it impact your school vision and mission?
The reality is that school leaders are consumed with budgets, board meetings, lesson plans, parent concerns, student progress, and more. School leaders rarely– if ever– have an opportunity to look inward and take account of their own spiritual well-being. Yet, as we learn from our ultimate role model, the Prophet Muhammad, taking time to reflect on society and self is a prerequisite to becoming an effective and transformative leader.
It is time, then, for us as Islamic school leaders to reorient our hearts and minds!
Throughout the ISLA retreat, we will be given opportunities to reflect, assess our spiritual health, and explore our relationship with Allah and its connection to the work we do in Islamic Schools. Participants will engage in discussions, presentations, workshops and activities. In addition, we will visit nearby caverns to better understand the transformative effect that solitude and reflection had on our beloved Prophet. These conversations and activities should plant the seeds of a paradigm shift in your leadership of Islamic schools as you turn your attention to your spiritual development.
The retreat will conclude with work on an individualized action plan that you will take back to your school to help you implement programs and practices that were explored over the weekend.
Islamic School Leaders Advancing Literary and Creative Arts Curricula
Leaders in schools must face the influence of popular culture as they strive to guide children toward a basic understanding of living as Muslims in Western society. Challenges arise as contemporary art seems to revolve heavily around human figures, music, negative lyrics and provocative dance performances.
Yet, Muslim children have a rich heritage to draw upon through the great Muslim men and women in Islamic civilization whose creative legacy was based upon the recitation of Quran, calligraphy, creativity, visual arts, literature, architecture, geometry, mathematics, music, science and more.
How surprising is it that the nature of the nib or pen tip lays out the Quran in such an artistic script? Or imagine in your mind geometric designs you have seen on buildings with a wide array of colors that are derived from the use of a sphere or triangle, offering the viewer an unbelievable visual and spiritual experience? Or what about an architectural design that echoes the sounds of the adhan without modern microphones to be heard distances as wide as the city stretches?
Where do leaders of Islamic schools look to balance the issues surrounding the literary and creative arts and guide teachers, parents and students to assess them? When do leaders get time to do some critical thinking that can provide leadership for students in their lives as Muslim in the western society? This retreat sets out to explore these untapped treasures and guide leaders to create action plans to return to their respective schools to use in a multitude of ways.
As in past years, the ISLA‘s 2016 Leadership Retreat is crafted upon the model of ‘personal and professional reflection’ with rejuvenating activities, walks to contemplate and reflect, as well as speakers and displays that offer opportunities for leaders to create their own action plan to use when they return to their schools.
Constructing Muslim Identity:
The Role of the School
Islamic Schools play an important role in their students’ identity construction. However, Islamic schools face both internal and external challenges as they aim to support students in developing a strong Muslim identity. Internal factors, such as being in an infancy phase, and social and political factors, such as Islamophobia and discrimination, have created new challenges towards the construction of this identity.
This retreat for Islamic school leaders will look at the complex challenges that Islamic schools face, what it means to be Muslim in America, and the Islamic school’s role in the identity construction of its Muslim students.
Nurturing the Natural in Children’s Learning:
A Whole Child Approach
This year, the ISLA Leadership Retreat will focus on how to nurture and facilitate the natural, innate, and God-given learning abilities in your students – often referred to by the Arabic word fitrah. The sessions will focus on the many ways your school can tap into the natural and innate aspects of children to develop them to their fullest capacity. Furthermore, you will learn how you, as a professional, can increase your own effectiveness in creating this environment in your school and nurturing it in your students.
Implementing a School-wide Character Education Program
The Prophet Muhammad said, “I was sent to perfect noble character.” Cultivating a strong and upright character is at the essence of Islam and a core component of the mission of Islamic schools. As educators, we often find ourselves asking: “How can Islamic schools help develop the character of its students successfully?” This retreat will explore many aspects of character education including the methods of the Prophet, current research, and actual examples of programs developed by Muslim educators in Islamic schools.