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Friday, April 20, 2012

The Magic of a Rock Collection


My friend Sonam and I the first week of school
"SONAM, I don't understand what's going on? What exactly is an auspicious date?  I thought that all school's in Bhutan started on February 15th, so why aren't we teaching?"  These were just a few mystifying questions that I asked the only Bhutanese teacher I felt comfortable admitting to that I was completely confused at times.  Even after she answered my questions, sometimes my brain was so exhausted trying to figure out a new culture all the time that I would give up and I would nod or smile at her answers as if I knew what she was talking about.  However, I did know one thing and that was I would figure it out as I went.  On the other hand, I didn't realize that this was going to make some hilarious learning as well as a need for some spiritual guidance to take over my days.

So here is a quick synopses of what I eventually understood:  Although all teachers and students attended school in Bhutan on February 15th, each school wouldn't be conducting lessons until they got their auspicious date from an astrologer to start teaching, which our astrologer advised us to start on February 27th.  What's an auspicious date?  An auspicious date is a forecast of a favorable or lucky date.   Therefore, until our auspicious starting date teachers had to report to school to supervise cleaning, collect fees, pass out textbooks, etc. but the teachers weren't expected to conduct lessons.   Since I am the class teacher of fifth grade, I was to supervise my fifth graders until February 27th.  Then I would start my teaching schedule and begin lessons for fifth grade English, two ninth-grade English classes and all library periods for k-6th grade (yes, I'm like a librarian).  Being a class teacher of fifth grade means that I am responsible for all the "business" of that class and they are like my babies.   

So that first week I was glued to my fifth graders and I was a little on the confused side about what was going on.  Outside my class window, I observed children scattered everywhere and some roamed around freely; I got a steady stream of curious kids peeking in the windows wanting a glimpse of what this Western teacher was doing.  I never knew when lunch was starting or ending as well as when the school day was over until I would notice that the school became eerie quiet and I would pop my head out the window to discover it was a ghost town.  Then I would excuse my fifth graders, which seemed like it was at random times everyday.  So I did what always works best for me:  I allowed my heart to guide the crazy days.  Here's how the first day went:

After being stuffed up in the classroom all morning with not one teaching supply/material, an idea came to me like lightening striking my head (guidance from above).  I started telling them about my rock and mineral collection that I have in the States.  I became so animated and passionate describing it that they all stared at me in amazement.  After I got them all worked up about rocks, I announced to them that we would start our very own rock collection and their eyeballs widened in excitement.  We hurried to the soccer field and started looking for the most unique rocks we could possibly find. 

Proud Owner of
  the Heart Rock
(curious kid
behind her)
Heart-Shaped Rock
On the field, my students ran up to me with such happiness over a rock that was sparkly or in the shape of a heart.  Before I knew it I had "one of a kind" rocks being shoved in my face from every direction.  I would hold up their rocks to the sky and gasp in amazement like I had just been handed a 20-carat diamond.  My enthusiasm was contagious and everyone would gather around me gasping in astonishment.  Then they would scurry around to discover more to gawk over.  I would hear the students saying things like “Look at this one it looks like a car.  Do you think that this rock is unique? Is this a volcano rock?”  I was thrilled to observe that there was a full-blown dialogue being taking place that went on and on.  They were talking to me in English as well as with each other without any hesitation.  It was also funny watching them get all jazzed up over rocks they had probably stepped on a thousand times, but never noticed.

A handful of rocks from our rock collection
We got back to class with a couple dozen of worthy looking rocks just in time for lunch.  When I got back from lunch, I was surprised to find them still huddling around their rocks talking about them.  They continued the lesson even when I was gone.  WOW!  So I ended the first day of school with them presenting their rocks.  Although a few of them struggled finding the right words to describe their rocks while presenting, they all tried their best.

Considering that I had an amazing first day of school with no teaching supplies, I am very optimistic about the school year.  This reminds me to continue to stay positive and to carry the love I feel from the morning assemblies into my classrooms, which makes it easier to receive some spiritual guidance.  Moreover, since my students have a great sense of humor, a willingness to talk to me in English and a drive to participate, I know that creative thinking/higher level thinking is going to be achieved in this simple classroom in Bhutan.  I love them already and I feel so proud to be their English Language Arts teacher.  Please wish us the BEST!

Practicing Raising our Hands for a Year of Participating

8 comments:

  1. Always wishing you and your students the best. That was a great first day of school.Finding the different looking rocks reminds me of our family .when we go on an outing if we see a cool looking rock it catches our eye.Not everyone would take notice to something so simple and beautiful.I love the heart shaped rock.And the children well they are going to love you all children seem to gravitate to you.Even here at school or a family party they want your attention.You are going to have good year teaching the children it looks like your going to make it fun at the same time.We love you and miss you Your Mom,Dad,&Sonia

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    1. MOM, You always leave me the best comments. Thanks! I love you guys! xoxo Next time you see a cool rock, think of me lol.

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  2. That heart rock is cool! Bring me home a cool one!

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    1. I will bring you back a sparkly one lol

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  3. What a great way to start your first day I would of loved to have started my first day that way.The children look so relaxed no pressure just kids being them selfs.I love that enviroment.No one bullying anyone.Its so soothing to me.Its so amazing how rocks became so much fun!Love you!

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  4. Tia, you would love it in Bhutan. I will bring you back a rock lol xoxo

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  5. Pretty tight, that heart shaped one was hella tight..

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