Together we Can do so Much by Gagan Paul

13 05 2015

Dear Friends, Family, Fellow Champions, and Followers of the Champions Program,

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” A powerful phrase that was mentioned at the professional development day for the Antigua Barbuda Union of Teachers and those are the words that I have been searching for to describe this whole trip thus far. My name is Gagan Paul and just over two weeks ago I arrived on the beautiful island of Antigua as Teacher Paul. My journey began roughly three years ago; I was sitting in my first Kinesiology lecture with Dr. Sheppard, and she was explaining how she organized the Champions for Health Promoting Schools program. A program, which allows individuals to travel to Antigua and teach life skills through physical, or health education. I would not have predicted that a couple of years later I would find myself living in Antigua as a teacher, but here I am.

I am part of a team of Champions of 2015 and past Champions working together to teach life skills to the eager students. Specifically, I am at Sunnydale Primary working alongside Kalie Webb and Janine Jackson. Janine has returned to Canada because she was part of the TEP program and has left us with numerous classroom management skills. Kalie and I work together each night preparing for our lessons by reviewing with the curriculum coordinator, Rochelle. The amount of time that it takes to prepare for a day of teaching varies because one cannot just wake up one morning and go teach something. To have an effective lesson, one must follow the life skill and organize various activities that will be most applicable for the students. However, not everything will always go according to plan with the lesson, and that is where one has to learn quickly to adapt effectively. Adapting lessons to the situation but keeping the life skill intact with the gameplay is something that I have learned to do in quick manner.

Sunnydale Primary is a school that has welcomed us in with open arms. The teachers have allowed us to step into their classrooms and trust us to teach the best to their bright students. The willingness and desire to learn of the students at Sunnydale has allowed me to explore different methods of teaching physical education but also be comfortable to teach within a classroom setting. I can challenge students from the young age of 4 to 12 to think critically about their activities and link them to how it is related to a life skill. I had the opportunity to read a children’s story to 104 eager preschool and kindergarten students in one classroom regarding sharing. Each student following that one lesson in the first week will approach one of the Canadian teachers to let us know how they shared today. As an educator at that moment in time I was aware that I had impacted a handful of students who were listening and engaged in the sharing lesson. Watching students learn tactics during play and be able to communicate within their teams during an activity makes me smile because not only are the students having fun by playing a game but also they are secretly learning. As time has progressed, the students are linking different skills that they have learned throughout the last couple of weeks to help them develop further as effective movers and learners.

My first day of school was a memorable one. I was incredibly excited that I thought it was 630am Antigua time, but it was 330am Antigua time, and I might have had a little mix up with the time difference. However, I was all ready to go to school at 4am till my roommates told me to go back to bed… Since that day forward the same excitement and anticipation for school in the morning is consistent. I walk into the school grounds with a smile on my face because I am ready to teach and learn from those around me. I am grateful to be on this trip because I am not only impacting the students, but they have influenced my perspective as well. Today I learned from the students how important it is to be present in the moment and enjoy the power of play. The minute we stepped onto the field the grade 3 class was immediately listening because they knew that if they learned the game quick, they would have more playing time. The students cooperated because each and every one of them was curious to not only learn the new game but also be able to play for as long as they can. At that moment in time nothing else mattered but the game for these students and myself. As we were walking off the field, one of the boys in the class looked at me and said “Thanks for making the game fun and then making it harder.” I smiled at him because I knew that not only did he have a good time but also he was challenged throughout the class.

Overall, the Champions of 2015 is a team of 23 till this week that we had the TEP students leave back to Canada, which we all greatly miss. After a day of teaching all the Champions gather for curriculum meetings and then at 8pm each night we meet at the Red Couch. The Red Couch meetings are the part of our day where we can talk within a group setting and share our experience. Sharing different ideas and collaborating with other champions is encouraging but also nurturing the growth of one another. Together we support one another through our day from the commute to school, the time at school, drive back and downtime. Nonetheless, we arrived on the island of Antigua with a desire and passion for teaching. The same passion is still alive as we are progressing in our last days of teaching. The Champions all bring something different to the team and work together to provide the students of Antigua the best teaching practice we can offer. Thank you to all of those who have supported the program and have been keeping to date with our journey in Antigua. We shall be back before you know it!

 

Best Regards,

Gagan Paul
Sunnydale Primary


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4 responses

13 05 2015
Janine

I’m glad things at Sunnydale are going well! They are very lucky to have you teaching there Gagan! I was so impressed by the connections you are able to make with the students – they are going to remember you and the things you teach them for a very long time.
Wish I was still there with you!! Keep up the great work and have lots of fun!

13 05 2015
Japreet

Gagan, it is so refreshing to read about your experience in Antigua! Nice to see the months of planning and hard work that went into going on this trip are finally being experienced by you and those around you. It feels as if I was going on this trip with you from the start and the blog has been such a nice way to connect and see the good work that all of the Champions are doing in Antigua. Good to know that the children are eager to learn and appreciate the challenges that are given to them, in fact it seems that they are inviting it. What really touched me was that you are learning from the children as well; we can all learn from each other in one way or another. I am so happy to know that this has been as much of a beneficial trip for you as it has been for the children that you are teaching, and all those lives you have touched. This trip will stay with you for a lifetime, my friend. Keep up the superb work you are doing and come home soon! Love you, miss you!

14 05 2015
Tanveen

This is wonderful. Keep up the good work and enjoy the rest of your time there!

14 05 2015
jaspreetpa1

hi gagan i am glad to hear childern are enjoying your teaching and you are learning from them as well.i am very eager to hear a lot of stories from you when you will be home.keep up the heard work as usaual .i am proud of you!

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