Lighting the Fire by April Iguidez

4 05 2016

Dear Alumni Champions, Family, Friends and Followers;

William Butler Yeats, an Irish poet once said, Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. This quote has come alive during my experience here in Antigua. I have been placed at Five Islands Primary school, the largest primary school on the island, and I have witnessed countless moments where teachers and my very own crew of undergraduates, have lit the matchstick of curiosity, learning, and creativity with the resources they have in front of them. It is absolutely humbling.

Last week I watched intently as our P.E. specialist sang the Punchinella song as she directed the students to run around the circle causing all the grade two’s in the circle to dance rhythmically and burst out laughing. They resumed clapping and followed her every command singing louder and louder. A simple field and a circle of students amounted to forty minutes of joy. I could not help but be consumed by the excitement and fun of it all – the combination of physical literacy, music, and community reeled me in and I found myself wanting to learn more group games from her.

This week I took in a conversation between two teachers and myself regarding one teacher’s desire to teach math with manipulatives. She had gone to the teacher store and personally spent $102 EC (30 US dollars) in order to buy a couple of manipulative blocks. This was a huge hit to her budget as she has two jobs, like most teachers here, in order to pay for her bills. I asked her if she thought it would vastly help her unit on multiples and that’s when her eyes went wide and huge smile spread across her face. She sat me down and talked about her unit for the next 15 minutes. Watching her speak with such passion and fervor was like watching a spectacular concert – I was appreciative and in awe. “I want the best for the kids. The absolute best! We don’t have much here, as Antigua is a developing nation, but we will work with what we have.”

When I first entered the teaching program I was forewarned many many times, about the challenges of teaching – the students, the budget, the workload, etc. Amidst all of the concern I plunged headstrong into the TEP program at UFV realizing the year would demand a lot of me – in every aspect. Both my Teacher Mentor and Faculty Mentor’s have been absolutely supportive of my whole experience both in Abbotsford to Antigua. I was extremely blessed to be in Kaija Sickel’s classroom at Abbotsford Traditional Middle School and watch her infectious use of drama and story in her teaching. I am also grateful to have a wise sage like Barry Dudzik, a former Principal, as my Faculty Mentor to prepare me for the opportunities and challenges in teaching. Even as I left for Antigua, their encouraging words and their conviction for education gave me the boost of strength I needed to pack for a 17 hour flight after a whole week of marking, teaching, and minimal sleep.
Through Dr. Joanna Sheppard’s leadership, guidance, and passion for P.E., I feel that my heart has been lit and set on fire for this land of Antigua and for physical education. I have watched her all week, thinking, planning, encouraging, helping, and motivating our team to be excellent teachers during our time here. Her desire to see the students of Antigua receiving and experiencing positive physical education was a huge reason for me coming.

As I watch Jo, I am cognisant of the fact that my students are always watching me. Am I sparking their curiosity? Am I making my lessons relevant? Am I teaching and living out what I believe education to be? Am I teaching the whole child? I asked myself this morning, “Is my passion for learning evident?”

My goal is to soak in my last days of Antigua and absorb everything that my students, the teachers, my Five Islands Team and the Champions Team, have to teach me. I hope to ask questions, be present and curious, and remember that I too have the ability to create some sparks.




6 responses

4 05 2016
Jenepher Sheppard

Love your Yeats quote, April. It is apparent that you all are doing your part to spark curiosity in your students. I will admit to some bias here, but music and singing is such a stimulus to learning, especially in the younger grades. There is, really, “a song for everything”. Keep up the “melodious” work!!!
Jenepher Sheppard

4 05 2016

Thanks April. You have reminded me that every day of our life we are surrounded by teachers. The ‘secret’ is to be open to learning and as Maya Angelou says, “when we know better we do better.”

4 05 2016

I love that while you’re inspired by others, you are, in turn, inspiring those around you! Enjoy “being in the moment” for your last couple days 🙂

4 05 2016

GREAT ENTRY! I envision the kids and im so proud of you!

4 05 2016

What a great experience April! I’m excited to hear all about it.

5 05 2016

Aren’t you just a modern Jillian Michaels! Nice job down there. 😀

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