The Fifth Year Concurrent Education Experience: Alternative Placements

January, a month of excitement and change for the Fifth-Year Concurrent Education group. Exams are finally done, our undergraduate degrees are complete, and our difficult good-byes are over. Now it is time to take a big leap and start our four months of placement, the first being our four-week alternative placement.

These alternative placements are great as it shows us teachers, the different position we can obtain that are outside the regular classroom, while still using our Bachelor of Education degrees. Some of the placements I have heard about in our program include resource teachers, guidance teachers, section 21 classrooms, jails, special needs classrooms, Sick Kids/Cheo hospital teachers, museums, and the list goes on. Alternative placements are very exciting as this is our one and only opportunity to choose our very own placements to work in.

For my alternative placement, I chose to be a resource teacher because I was unsure if I wanted to be a regular classroom teacher or explore the special education route. I am so glad I chose to be a resource teacher because of two reasons; 1) my teacher is amazing and 2) I have learned so many great and valuable things. I have had endless opportunities in the school, and have learned just how much a resource teacher takes on. It has been the most amazing and eye-opening experience, and it has shown me that I have so much more passion for teaching than I ever thought I did. I have discovered that working as a resource teacher is definitely something I want to pursue in the future. There is nothing better than working with students of all grades, supporting teachers within the school, creating amazing connections, and having breakthroughs with students. I have discovered that a resource teacher has such an amazing career and that comes with so many rewards. I am sad that it is coming to an end in just a few short days.

If you are in the Concurrent Program, and you are already wondering or thinking about where you may want your alternative placement to be, here is some advice:

  1. Take it seriously. Choose a placement that you will value, and learn from. If there is an avenue of teaching that you think you may want to pursue in the future, then take this opportunity to try it out. If you already know where you may want to work, that is outside a regular classroom setting, then use this placement as an opportunity to gain work experience there.
  2. Give yourself lots of time when working with different workplaces. If you know of a place you want to work, then start the placement process when it is recommended by the placement office. This is important because some places take longer to approve student teachers coming into their facility. The earlier you secure yourself a placement, the better off you will be. If you wait until the very end to figure out your alternative placement you may not get one that you will enjoy/like or you may not secure yourself one at all. Alternative placement has been the best experience for me thus far, so I recommend that you take advantage of it, and enjoy every moment.
  3. Enjoy yourself! You may be outside of your comfort zone or not know the job at all since it is not a regular classroom setting, but take advantage of this. Continue to step out of your comfort zone, and take in as much information as you can. Learn as much as you can because if your alternative placement is anything like mine, you will get nothing but endless opportunities and it will make you become a better teacher. The more you step out of your comfort zone and try new things, the more you will learn.

So when it is your turn to finally step out of a regular classroom, and try out a new opportunity that our Bachelor of Education gives us, enjoy it. Take advantage of all opportunities, and take chances. All of these placements combined will make you a better teacher, and make Nipissing proud!