This summer English as a Second Language teacher Andrew Hinshaw spent six weeks in David, Panama (the capital of Chiriqui Province) supporting English teachers in their classrooms. This program, organized by the Partners of The Americas, aims to foster relationships between high-performing U.S. teachers and teachers in Panama, some whom are new to teaching English as a foreign language. Andrew was one of 20 teachers chosen out of 120 nationwide.

For the first three weeks Andrew worked with six elementary school teachers at a local public school. First observing, then giving feedback, helping to facilitate new ideas and reflecting with the teachers on successes and lessons learned. The next three weeks were spent with 12 high school teachers at another public school.

“It was important to first build trust and show the teachers that you’re in it for the students,” said Andrew. He observed that in many cases they were asking students to speak English without giving them the tools to get there.

One classroom management tool that became very popular was the traffic light behavior system that has students monitor their own behavior. After working with one teacher to implement this in her classroom, Andrew helped two other teachers adopt the same system. When he returned home, Andrew received a message from one Panamanian teacher letting him know that the system was still in place and making a difference in the classroom.

Reflecting on the overall experience and thinking ahead to the upcoming school year, Andrew says that he was reminded how lucky he is to be at the Carlos Rosario School: “It made me realize how collaborative we are here and how much we are committed to going all out for the students.”

Watch a lesson in action below.