I decided the best way to start off this blog is to start with a mini-autobiography and explanation of my reasons for creating a professional blog.
My name is D’Alice (pronounced Dallas) Marsh. When I was in French Immersion my name drove me nuts; teachers would always pronounce it as if it were French Meaning “of Alice” or “from Alice.” Then I grew to love it and appreciate it.
MY Professional Blog
Now, I must say, this is not my first blog. I do have a couple of class blogs and a personal blog, My Life, My Thoughts, My Words. However, after a couple of months of a good run that quickly fell by the wayside. So it will be my realistic goal, to post a minimum of once a month. Don’t want to set myself up for failure. Not to mention, I want to contribute things that are meaningful.
I am hoping to use this blog as a reflection of my own learnings. It’s a strong belief of mine that we should all strive to be lifelong learners, continuously challenging ourselves to be better and not settle into a comfort zone.
I also thought it would be a good place to document my “learnings” and my thoughts while working through my masters. Although I have yet to decide if I will publish all my thoughts and assignments.
I currently teach at the POWER Program, an alternate school, in New Westminster, School District #40. This is my third year here. We have three semesters and teach September through July, going year round. We have six teachers in the program, 3 teach 5 days a week with regular hours and 3 teach 4 days a week with extended hours 9:30-5:30. I’m one of the ones with the extended days. So I teach the equivalent of 5 days in 4, so I’m lucky enough to have Mondays off. (Only this year my position was cut back and I’m only teaching a 0.9FTE, which has lead me back to TTOCing on Mondays to make up for the loss of income).
Our students come from a variety of backgrounds, aged 16-19 typically; mental health (autism, social anxiety, developmental, …), behavioral (corrections, D&A, ADHD, removed from home schools & districts), MCFD - often on independent living, and those that simply just don’t fit into the regular stream and need a schedule that will allow them to work to support themselves financially.
The one thing that most of our students have in common is that they are not at grade level. We tend to have an inverted bell shape. Many of our students have been out of school for years and are just returning, many have moved so many times that there were never able to complete anything, others excel with their supportive families and test at post-secondary levels.
Here I teach six courses a year, two each semester. The courses I teach are Applications & Workplace Mathematics 10 and 11, Science 10, Earth Science 11, PE 10&12 Combination, Photography 10 & 12 Combination. I have also taught Science & Technology 11.
“When others ask, do you really teach?,” “ Why would you want to peg yourself as an alternate teacher?,” “ Could you not get a job anywhere else?” My answer is “Yes,” “I’m not,” and “I could’ve”.
POWER is a structured program, with classes, with class times, with absences, and with lates just like any other regular stream school. This is what sets us apart from the majority of other alternate programs. Not only are we teachers, we are ears to listen, we are the support our students need. There is no denying there are days that are struggles for us and our students. But there are no two days that are the same; and there are the awesome days! The days we get to share moments with our students, the day a concept finally clicks after weeks of struggles, the day they decide to accept help with their addictions, the day they come in beaming with pride having worked really hard on a project. Then there are those moments that we share as a community, sitting down and breaking bread with each other over a nice hot lunch, ice skating, bowling, going on fieldtrips to locations they would not be able to afford to go on their own.
I once was afraid of pigeon-holing myself into an alternate position; but, that fear quickly dissipated. During my BEd, I begged and pleaded to be able to spend a portion of my practicum in an alternate setting. I got my wish. There is something to be said about the meaningful relationships that are built within this setting. You can see what a difference it makes in the lives of students who would not normally have a chance or an opportunity to graduate and to thrive in a learning environment.
As for getting a job somewhere else. I was requested as a TTOC by a teacher within the POWER Program, and as it turns out it turned into a contract. Since then, I haven’t looked back. I’m sure I won’t spend my entire career in an alternate setting, I believe it is good to experience change to continuously challenge yourself, and on the difficult days I sometimes wonder why not get a position in the regular highschool. But those thoughts go as quickly as they come.