Official Blog of Allison Ethier

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Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
Official blog of Allison Ethier NSCA Personal Trainer, ISSN Sport Nutrition, Educator & Mom

30 June 2009

My real job.

Hi Everyone-

This week started out as a good week, but then took a turn for the worse. I attended a math conference for 2 days for grades 10 and 11 mathematics. That was a really fun. Who would ever think that right? My math department is quite fun, and very animated, and they have a good perspective on things.

Right now in Quebec, there is a major reform going on in all the programs in the high schools. Math, the subject in which I teach is much harder, more difficult than it has ever been. Topics are being brought to students a year earlier than previous, and now they are evaluated on competencies. The largest problem teachers are having is in evaluation. How do you evaluate a competency of a student in math without the basics of math knowledge? One (the knowledge) leads into the other (competency). We as a math department are seeing huge gaps in information of students who are currently in the grades 9, 10 and 11 levels.

This year was my second year within the new reform, but my 8th year teaching grades 9 and 10 math. Even though I have a biology background, I have only taught math.

Upon my return from this math conference, my principal announces to me that I am being put in a grade 8 science/math/ethics course for the following year. 3 new preps! I had put in for a 50% workload, but the amount of back ground work and prep does not equal 50%.

I have to say that I am completely beside myself with worry for the following year, and have not slept well since he told me this. I did not put in for a 50% workload to work more. And changing my courses, it will not allow me the benefits that teaching 50% gives. You might be in front of the students less, but the amount of work that you are doing actually equals 100%. One thing that people don't realize about teaching is that, you are working all day on your feet, and most times you have take home work that can be upwards of 3 hours or more every night. And I teach at a public school! And then on top of that teachers are expected to participate in the school in afterschool activities, and sports.

I am not sure what I will decide for next year. What he told me was only a 'preliminary' notice and I have received nothing official on paper. Yet. So you might think that I am hopeful that my workload might be all math, but I have spoken with the principal on 2 occasions, and he reassures me this is how it is going to be. If and when I choose to come back at 100%, I can have my grade 10s back. That would be 3 courses at the grade 8 level and 2 courses of math. With that kind of workload coming back full time does not seem in the cards for me.

And you wonder why the system finds it hard to track students, or that students are not achieving in the classroom? Maybe the system should look at how much work is being placed on its teachers to do their job effectively? At what point in the day do you stop doing your job? 5pm? 6pm? 7pm? 8pm? Most are at school by 7:30am and do not leave till 5pm, grab some supper and basically keep working. How do you manage to do that when you have a family, or other responsibilities outside of your working day?

Is it not too much to ask to give the teachers a workload they actually will enjoy? Back in the day when there was an excess of teachers (this is not the case anymore), if you wanted to be a teacher you taught what you were given. However, nowadays, there are no teachers, there is no more excess. In fact, schools are hurting for qualified teachers. Younger teachers will not put up with the issues affecting the school system today. Most times schools will hire people who do not have degrees, in order to fill vacant positions.

So how did I deal with this blow to my ego? Being the resourceful person that I am, I went to the grade 8 teachers and asked them help me with books, and outlines at least for the summer. I have to now spend my summer preparing for next fall. I would have been preparing for math classes anyways, but the material would have been familiar and I would have known what direction to take when developing new assignments. Now, I know nothing about the program, the direction, how long to spend on what, etc. And a new part of my teaching will include science fair, and sex ed. Yes, now I will be teaching sexual education. (ok, that part might be fun, cause at least the students are interested in learning that).

I am trying to get over my feelings but it will be hard for me next year to trust those that make these decisions. This was a complete blindside, and a principal is under no obligation to give reasons for the change, besides professional courtesy. A principal is allowed to give a teacher whatever workload he feels there is a need. The funny thing is, there is a need for math teachers in my department and he is switching an experienced math teacher for those less experienced. This does not make sense to me. And I have to add, I have not had an evaluation. No one has been in my class to evaluate me, ever. Bottom line is the principal has the right to choose workloads for the teachers, and the teachers, well they can take the workload, or choose another option.

Anyways, I will be doing 'homework' all summer and due to my training for Nationals, this could be looked at as a positive thing. It will keep my mind and my hands busy.

I will update next week on fitness, but for now I just had to vent.

Vent over.


20 June 2009

54 days to CBBF Fitness Nationals

Wow. Can you believe a week has gone by now? Time flies when you have so much work to do. This week was my last week of school. I had one more exam on Wed, and oodles of marking to do, finalize my marks, enter them, call the students who needed a change of course for next year and do this all before Friday. It has been tough. Tough because my son has been ill all week. He caught a flu from a friend and the friend was sick for exactly 7 days. Instead of 24 hours it was 7 days. Not complete ill, just cranky, high temperature, headache, and lack of appetite. Normally I would stay home, but since this was the end of the year, I had to go to work, and my hubby had to stay home. It is amazing what you can get done when you have only a short period of time to do it. Luckily everything is done. Oh, and it had to be all done on Friday, as on Sunday I am off to a math conference for 3 days. Teacher math conference. The reform and changes in the system are continuing. Oh, and by the way, students now a days, don't have to pass math to get moved up to the next grade. At least not where I live. I have students who have never passed math. That is a topic I will have to re-visit as it is the most frustrating thing about being a teacher.

I did what I vowed not to. I trained everyday this week. Not sure if it was to get out of the house, or just a way to start my day off right, but I did. And I hate to say that I have not practiced my routine yet. I have done pieces here and there, and know the layout of the routine, but have not had time to go to the dance studio near my house, and spend time on it. Hopefully next week. Oh, not till Thursday as I do have that math conference.

My diet was much better this week. I really hate the first week of diet transition. I do not start my diet completely as I find I need 1-2 of transition time in order to get my head in the game. Every day that goes by I keep telling myself - one more day, you can do it! Monday is the worst, as Friday - my cheat day - seems so far away. But I manage to keep myself busy, and this week was super busy, so dieting seemed easier. Diet should be ok next week as I will have to bring my food with me. I have done it so many times, that it is not that hard to travel and diet - at least for 2-3 days. Anything greater than 5 days away from a kitchen, and well that becomes hard. My food is good for about 5 days, even the fridge, and well after that things start to smell.

CBBF Invite to the Worlds in Italy
I turned down the invite to the Worlds. I weighed the options of going to Italy in October for numerous personal reasons. Firstly I am teacher. There is no way that I am flying that far to only stay for 4 days. Plus I could never get the time off in the middle of October to go away for 5+ days. I already discussed this with my principal. You really don't travel that far for only 4 days. You would realistically make a vacation out of it and tour around. I cannot. Other things I considered: a long season for me, (I am competing twice in August); my family and how it would affect them; the expense of the competition; and my goals of competing.
I want to compete as a Pro and per chance got my pro card this August would compete as a pro in September. That is my goal. The Worlds is very prestigious, but the timing is just not right for me. I am sure there will be other opportunities, and hopefully the CBBF will invite another fitness athlete to attend.

Pictures Update

Ok, so I don't see much different in my shape. However, my arms do feel leaner. It is a top down process right? I am traveling this week, so that is actually a good thing. I brought all my food with me for the next 2 days. I am hoping to see a bigger difference from the end of week one to the end of week three.

Jr. Nationals was this weekend, and 3 fitness pros were crowned. One for each height class. I think that is amazing considering fitness is not as popular as it once was, but continues to be the most entertaining due the performance of the routine. The Fitness Universe was also this weekend. I wanted to watch the shows as they do a live webcast, which was free, and well I missed it. Thinking it was Sat, I logged on to find the show was broadcast on Friday night. I am sure I missed a good show. Miami is such a great time of year, and visiting Next cafe on Lincoln Road was always my favorite part of the event.

It is so nice to live vicariously through others during your time of prep. It keeps me motivated to do better and try harder.

15 June 2009

59 days to Nationals

Ok, here we go. It is or was my 'official' start to my diet on Sunday. I have been waiting for this moment since I stopped by diet about 3 months ago. I am so excited to be competing again this year at the Nationals in Vancouver. I have been looking forward to competing since last year's show. I knew that the results would improve last year. I placed 5th in 2007, then 3rd in 2008 and well I am hoping to follow the pattern and move up two more spots to 1st in 2009.

I will post progress pictures on a weekly basis - more if I can. It would be interesting to see pictures on a daily basis and then put them in a video and see the changes from 60 days down to show time in one 60 second video.

How much weight do I need to lose? Probably 10lbs or so. Any more I and I feel I get too skinny and start to lose my shape (this is what the judges don't like). Coming in fuller is not something I like, as I really like when I get skinny. And I think we all love when our clothes get looser, and well, sometimes skimpier.

I won't be getting a new suit as I really love the one that I have. However, my costume needs more 'flash' and well, I might as well do it myself. I have some ideas, and have no sewed in a while but am looking forward to making my own creation.

My focus for the Nationals is to entertain the crowd. In the past I have tried to entertain the judges, and guess or predict what they want and the funny thing is.... I never did any better. Sometimes I actually did worse. When I focussed solely on me, and what I could achieve is when I did better. External factors, those out of my control at times got me down, and clouded my purpose. This show is not just about getting my pro card, but it is about putting my best product on the floor, and showing that I am a champion even if I do not get first in the judges eyes. There have been moments in my career where I could have done better, and other moments where I did my best and did not win. It happens like that sometimes. But with me I tend to focus on how I did not win, rather than how much I achieved leading up the show. This year I am changing my focus. The focus is not on the outcome but in my performance. I am always trying new things, ideas, costumes, skills - sometimes they impress and sometime they don't. I do try all the time to improve myself and move forward. I am willing to take risks and am so proud that I can still do this after all these years.

At the end of the school years I always do a back tuck for each of my classes, to celebrate the last minute of their school year. They are always so excited to see that - so I do it twice. I am 32 years old and can still standing tuck. That is pretty cool. I was just hoping to be able to do that when I am 30, but I have surpassed that goal.

This summer I have quite a bit of travel planned. In two weeks I am on a family vacation, then back home for 2 weeks, then off for the weekend, then away for 2 more weeks, then back home for final weeks prep for Nationals, then Nationals, then family vacation, then back home, then another week of travel...then school starts. So, in other words I have to be very disciplined with my food. I have vowed not to workout every day leading up the show like I have in the past. I will make my gym workouts more efficient, and keep my diet cleaner. 3 days weights, 2 days routine, and 2 days of rest. Right now I am dieting for 2 weeks, then off for a family vacation. I will still be 'on diet mode', but if I feel I need to cheat -- I will. After I return from vacation I will still have 42 days or so of dieting, and for me that is more than enough time. (did you follow that?)

This week is my last week of school. I have another exam, some marking, organizational things for next year, and then off to math conference the following week. This year has been much less stressful than last. I am so grateful to be able to work as much as I do and try to maintain a fitness/family balance. I agree it is not easy. And honestly, never realized how tough it is to maintain a certain amount of balance between the two.

In other news I have been invited to attend the World Championships in Como, Italy with the Canadian Bodybuilding Federation. That would be cool to compete in Italy as I have never been there before. I will have to think this over as the event is in October of 2009 and would require me taking a week off of school. Teaching has many benefits, but unfortunately I cannot take days off in the middle of the week, so going to this event, might not be in the cards for me.
But it was nice to be invited to go.

Here are some pictures from today. Yes, there is work to be done. 59 days and counting.