Wrong Turns Lead to Adventures and Learning by Bailee Cuthbert

10 05 2017

Dear Family, Friends, Alumni Champions and Supporters,

My name is Bailee Cuthbert, I am a 3rd year undergraduate in kinesiology, and a first year Champion. I have been passionate about teaching young children for my whole life – so for me, the Champions program is an amazing chance to learn and practice teaching in a different environment, as well as feeding my passion for children. What is surprising to me is that the more I am here, the more I teach, the more I am realising how much I am learning about myself.

I am teaching at S.R. Olivia David primary school with my teaching partners Christine McGuire and Harleen Gill. This school is new to the program, and it has been a delight to be able to help introduce it to the children and staff. It is absolutely incredible how welcoming and excited each person is. We are total strangers to these students and teachers, yet we are brought in and welcomed, hugged, high fived, played with and smiled at with such love and enthusiasm, it fills my heart each and every day when I step out of the car.

After our first unity games last week, we had the weekend to reflect on our first week on island. While relaxing in the sun was wonderful, the chance to sit and think about what I have learned so far and what I look forward to next was so welcome. Going into this experience, I knew I would be teaching, but I didn’t know just how much I would be learning and growing. No matter how much I heard from past champions about what a life changing experience this program is, it is impossible to know the depth of it until you experience it yourself. Our days are filled with so much action and variety it is impossible to fully describe the effect it is having on me.

Today marks our 7th instructional day, and each day I am reminded that teaching is a constant adventure. While driving, I often say that one wrong turn leads to an adventure, and I am discovering how applicable that is to the classroom. A classroom requires constant modification. No matter how brilliant your plan or preparation is, there is always a better or different way to execute a lesson, a deeper way to connect to the children, or a different set of words that could be said. My biggest lesson from the past 7 teaching days has been the value of changing and modifying on the fly. While a majority of experiences with the children are wildly positive and heart-warming, the occasional situation goes south, and it takes a lot of quick thinking to adapt and do what is needed. Already, I’m getting so much better at adapting, learning from experiences and collaborating with other teachers to learn new methods.

Overall, so far on this trip I think I have learned to be patient with myself. I have the tendency to try something and expect myself to succeed immediately, and with every new experience I am discovering how rarely that works out, and that it is perfectly okay. The Champions program is giving me a chance to safely explore my weaknesses and mistakes and learn from them. After only 7 teaching days I feel like I more fully understand my abilities as a teacher and I have already improved on so many aspects. I am on a mission for confidence, and I know for certain that with the amazing team supporting me here, I can achieve that.

Lastly, I need to thank each person who supports this program and supports me. Thank you to teachers and supporters here on island, to my family and friends back home, and of course, Jo, who leads us with such passion, compassion and understanding. I wouldn’t want to be here under the direction of anyone less great, and I look forward to completing this journey with the fantastic team she has put together.

Bailee Cuthbert

S.R. Olivia David Primary



2 responses

10 05 2017

Great blog Bailee. We have been watching you teach your taekwondo students for so many years, we all know how amazing you are with them. We knew you would be great on your journey to Antigua. So very proud of your Bailee!! Love Mom &Dad, James too

12 05 2017
Amber Johnston

Great reflection Baillie, a wonderful learning experience! Glad to hear you are enjoying your trip so far! Well wishes to everyone 🙂

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