Beaming Smiles and High Engagement by Mike Petersen

18 05 2017

Dear family, friends, past champions, and sponsors.

My name is Mike Petersen, and I am enrolled in the Teacher Education Program at the University of the Fraser Valley. I arrived to Antigua on Saturday with five other student teachers from the Teacher Education Program. We joined with the strong team of champions already on the island for two weeks. While we were extremely excited to jump back into the classroom, fresh off our own practicum experience in Canada, our group was quickly initiated with red sun burns and smiles that were hard to whip away.

I am teaching alongside Alyssa Theodore and Brianna Mackenzie at Golden Grove Elementary. It was clear my first morning that both had already made strong connections with both the students and staff members of the school. They have helped make my transition into the school smooth and introduction to the staff friendly.

This experience reminds me of a quote a teacher once said to me, “if you are not having fun, then your students are not having fun. If your students are not having fun, the students are not engaged. If your students are not engaged, then they are not learning.”

I have tried to be mindful of this during my practicum and it has been clearly evident in my short period in Antigua. While talking with my colleagues in the car rides home and at our “Red Couch” meetings, each team member is beaming with rich stories about students at their schools.  It is clear that our excitement level and positive attitude is rubbing off on the students. I feel like a celebrity walking through my school, as all the students run up to us asking when they next have Physical or Health Education. It is uplifting to hear students talking how they used a skill we taught to solve conflict or make responsible decisions at school.

Today my teaching partners and I at Golden Grove were treated to a performance by ‘soca’ music. It was great to see the students up and dancing to the music. Through activities such as this and morning song routines, Antigua schools seem to do a great job preserving confidence in creativity in its students. If I were to ask my grade 5/6 practicum class to sing and dance, many would be hesitant to participate. Again, another fun way to keep students engaged and excited to learn. I hope to bring this back with me as I return to a Canadian classroom this fall.

Like my colleagues from the Teacher Education Program, I impatiently am waiting for tomorrow’s Unity Games day. We have heard so much from the champions about the action packed pace of the games. My roommate, and now Antigua T.V. star, Blair Cumming, has been working hard on organizing activities and preparing our team for success. It will be a cool experience to have every one of the champions working together and making connections with an entire school.

Now to rest up and be ready to bring our “A” game for tomorrow.

Mike Petersen

Golden Grove Elementary



3 responses

24 05 2017
Awneet Sivia

Hi Mike,
What a great quote! I can tell by your reflection that you are having fun, but learning so much as a result of the high level of engagement you are experiencing. What a great experience to launch you into the profession – a sense of the camaraderie of being with colleagues who give it there ‘all’ and still have time to have fun and REFLECT! 🙂 Best wishes with unity games and safe travels home. See you next week and excited to hear of your experiences!

24 05 2017

I can just see those smiles and sunburns! The enthusiasm in your post is wonderful, Mike. Thanks for so vividly sharing your experiences.

25 05 2017

Hi Mike
I smiled when I thought of you walking as the celebrity in your school. If you thought that you stuck out being one of only two guys in our elementary cohort, you must really stick out as the giant tall sun-burnt white guy. I agree that many Canadian students miss out when they feel they cannot sing or dance. It is obvious that you are catching the confidence of your students..

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