Stories from the Field: Shauna in Bartsham

We’re recently received some fantastic stories from our teachers in the field and guess what?! We want to share them with you. For the next few weeks we’ll post a story a week, coming to you directly from our teachers currently working in Bhutan. This week….Shauna West!

Shauna, Bartsham Middle Secondary School
It was Day One, in February 2011, a cool and dry winter morning at Bartsham Middle Secondary School when I first greeted my 9C English class. I walked into the room and cheerfully exclaimed, “Good Morning 9C!”

As expected, I received an equally enthusiastic reply from 34 standing and smiling teens. What I didn’t expect, however, was that this was where the discussion ended.

“Welcome back to school, 9C, how do you like to be back?” Answer: silence… You could literally hear a pin drop!

I realized then and there that the focus of the year was to promote speech in the class, to encourage both boys and girls to stand up straight and tall and speak confidently, not hunched over, a hand covering the mouth, mumbling speech as they burrow their gaze into the floor.

It took time, patience, and cultural understanding however the kids finally came around to realizing that English class is place of community, of sharing ideas, and of creativity.

By taking baby steps and injecting a good dose of humor into the classroom, students’ confidence increased and learning flourished.

Now on days when I hear those terribly shy kids suddenly pipe up in class, I feel the rush of pride and delight overwhelm my heart as I realize, “Oh yeah, THAT’S why I came here!”