Saying Goodbye to our STAMP CHAMPIONS: A Stamp in Our Teacher Education Passport by Libby, Kam, Sarah and Shelby

20 05 2018

Hello everyone my name is Libby Biln and I am in Antigua participating in the Student Teachers in Antigua Mentorship program (STAMP). As I complete my Bachelor of education to be a high school teacher in BC, I have had this amazing opportunity to work, teach, mentor and sweat alongside UFV students as a part of the Champions for Health program lead by Dr. Joanna Sheppard.

Throughout my two week journey working alongside champions at S.R. Olivia primary and the All Girls Antiguan high school I have had the opportunity to analyze my personal perspective on education and what teaching means to me. As a trained highschool teacher coming into this experience I was extremely excited to immerse myself in an elementary school setting. I’ve always enjoyed working with younger students and a part of me thought that maybe I was suppose to be a primary teacher. I loved my experience at S.R. Olivia, the staff were inviting, the children enthusiastic and my teaching partners fabulous. It was sad to leave the relationships I was starting to build after one week but excited to embrace the amazing opportunity to teach at the All Girls Antiguan high school, the first time Champions for Health would be at this school.

After my first day at the highschool I was blown away. The teachers and staff were so welcoming, the students were interested in what we had to say and the environment felt like home, it felt right. This experience has reaffirmed my desire to be a high school teacher however, the more time I spend in different education systems the more I see my perspective on education being shaped. One transformative observation I have had is that students are students everywhere. The students here in Antigua, are just like the students at home. They want to learn, gossip, and play, the only thing different is the surrounding environment and available resources. As a fellow STAMPer said, it is a “resource desert” here. This has been one of my most shocking realizing, not the fact that they lack elaborate resources but the fact that students can still learn effectively and efficiently without them. This makes me question how necessary resources are to learning and if there is a saturation point where the pros no longer outweigh the cons? This question I will continue to pursue as I venture into my career as teacher in BC. In the end, being welcomed into the Champions for Health family is an experience I will never forget, especially as I continue to reflect on my learning here and its influence on my perspective of education. I hope that I have been able to provide some insight and advice on teaching to all of the amazing UFV Champions I got to work alongside, I know that they have taught me so much!

Libby Biln

Teacher Candidate
University of the Fraser Valley

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Hi, my name is Kam Taylor and my time in Antigua has come to a close. Coming here, I was informed that we have a full schedule and that was so. It took a couple of days to get a routine established and know the “Cantiguan” way of doing things. Knowing how our undergrads carried out their lessons and followed up with their CCR’s (Check, connect, reflect) and contrasting with my teaching style I had developed in my EDUC 492 long practicum.

In schools and out in the community I was immersed in the Antiguan culture and it was one of the best experiences of my life, making connections with primarily K-5 students and teaching partners. “The Antiguan way of life” I found to be a very slow paced (my job at the beginning seemed fast) mentality and reminded me of back in my hometown of 100 Mile House, B.C. which I have a deep love for. In my second week of my teaching experience I found myself getting back into the swing of things after parting from my practicum school in Abbotsford (ATSS). I had used the tools I had developed in my teaching program thus far and tweaked them just a little to adapt to educate my elementary students as I had educated high-school students previously back in Canada. Classroom management was the main skill/goal/strategy that I had to alter a bit to meet the needs of my students. I found my niche with these students and connected with them right away; Keeping them engaged in my teaching lessons with my enthusiasm and radiant personality. All these kids will truly melt your heart, it really sucks I am leaving them. If I get a chance, I will want to come back here to reconnect with them at Mary E. Piggots Elementary. I should probably talk with Doctor Joanna Sheppard to see if we could make this happen !

#thosekidsthough #cantiguans #antiguanscanadians #love #sunrisesunset #family #teaching #amateacherwhat

Kameron Taylor
Teacher Candidate
University of the Fraser Valley

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Hi there, my name is Sarah Harrison and I was very fortunate to be a part of Dr. Joanna Sheppard’s mentorship program in Antigua, West Indies. As a STAMP I was able to work at 3 different schools with several teaching partners. I started my journey at Urlings Primary School with my teaching partners, Amy and Jasmine, who were so welcoming and showed me “the ropes.” During my time at Urlings I soaked in as many experiences as possible, from the enthusiastic students, the morning prayers to the cricket lessons. I soon realized that although the environment was different and the classrooms didn’t resemble those at home in Canada, kids are kids. They love to play with their friends, play football at lunch and they love to learn! One of the biggest things I took away from being at Urlings was how much students can learn despite the lack of resources in schools. These teachers are doing a phenomenal job at educating the youth of Antigua with the minimal resources available. My highlight from Urlings was working with the grade three class who responded to the pen pal letters that my practicum students in Canada wrote to them. As the students read their letters and responded, I could see the joy on their faces and the many similarities to my students back home.

My next journey began during week two of our trip and I was placed at two schools for children living with disabilities. In the mornings I went to Adele School for Children with Disabilities and the Victory Centre, where I had the pleasure of working with two alumni students, Jade and Janelle. The experiences that the students at both schools gave me have influenced my teaching philosophy and strengthened my stance on social justice in schools. The students are so capable, funny, loving and caring. My experience at these schools has influenced my classroom research topic as well. I have decided to research the differences between inclusion and segregation in relation to the education of students living with disabilities. My overall highlight at both of these schools was on my last day when the students who would not participate previously all participated! I hope this was partially due to the connections that I have built with them over the week.

I am so glad that I challenged myself to be a part of this program. I am bringing home a suitcase full of memories and a full heart but most of all I am bringing home affirmation because teaching is my passion and it is where I belong.

Sarah Harrison
Teacher Candidate
University of the Fraser Valley

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My name is Shelby Koop, and I am eager to say that I am in the final weeks of UFV’s Bachelor of Education program. I am “certification-ready” to be an elementary teacher and I can’t wait for my new career to begin!

It has been an honour to be a STAMPer these past two weeks in Antigua. I can truly say that each moment has been invaluable. From living with my roomie Sarah, to joining a large dynamic team, to mentoring my teaching partners Sara E. and Taylor, to teaching off of other people’s lesson plans while in a foreign country….It truly has been a whirlwind of an adventure! Although, there are so many experiences and moments I could share, I’ll stick to a highlight and a surprise.

One of my highlights has been collaborating and teaching alongside my teaching partners. The students are so enthusiastic. They love to be at school, and they certainly love doing P.E. with us. Coming straight from my teaching practicum at home, to teaching at Pigotts Primary was an interesting transition. It took me a few days to settle into the new environment, but as soon as I began to understand the school’s culture and routines, I felt my teacher presence emerge more and more. A new dynamic was added when I began to mentor Sara and Taylor. As they began to request for feedback and classroom management strategies, I realized that I needed to become aware of the strategies I was modeling. It felt good knowing my strategies have became more natural in my teaching style, but it was also challenging to always be aware of what I was doing. I believe this experience has helped me become more thoughtful during my teaching.

On my first day at Pigotts Primary, I was surprised. Coming to a new school, in a new country was exciting to me. I had heard stories from Champ alumni, and I was expecting to experience many differences. Of course there were differences, but what stood out to me was how similar these students are to my students back at home. They love to play with slime, they love the game Fortnite, they have a hard time sitting in a desk all day, and they like to ask you many questions! Although, the students weren’t familiar with my clapping patterns and “call-backs” (ie: Teacher: 1-2-3 eyes on me. Students: 1-2 eyes on you!), they learned them quickly and could respond without missing a beat. I loved how well my management strategies worked with these students and I believe it helped me build connections with the classes I taught.

Although my time in Antigua was short, it was filled with impactful experiences and memories that I will cherish. Pigotts Primary…thanks for having me! You challenged me, energized me, gave me new perspective and enriched my practicum experience. You will continue to impact me as I enter the teaching profession. I also want to thank Dr. Joanna Sheppard for everything she has done for the Champions program. I’m so glad I got to experience teaching physical education in Antigua!

Shelby Koop
Teacher Candidate
University of the Fraser Valley

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20 05 2018
Jenelle Atkinson

I enjoyed reading all of the STAMPERS posts! What amazing learning and collaboration! Congratulations on being officially certified and I look forward to seeing you all in the field. Safe travels home!

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