Monthly Archives: October 2016

Recap of OISE Open House Week

Hi there! ^_^

Last week, October 17th to 22nd, was OISE Open House Week. I thought it might be fun to provide my readers with a recap of what I did that week and to reflect on how far I’ve come since a few years ago.

I helped tear down the Open House events on Monday & Wednesday, which was fun. 😛 I even got to talk to a few prospective students while waiting to put things away. Tuesday was actually the Open House Day for my department, Applied Psychology & Human Development, but I actually had class that evening. Not that convenient for my work, but this shows how understanding OISE is towards teachers & other professionals who have to work during the day.

On Thursday, I helped with the set up & tear down of the Leadership, Higher, & Adult Education Open House. I even ran into someone I know from my undergraduate degree at York University during registration. The weather wasn’t the best, but it was still great to see so many prospective students come out to learn more about OISE.

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(How things looked before prospective students came)

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(Prospective students discussing specific graduate programs of interest in smaller groups)

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(More discussion in smaller groups)

On Saturday, I was sent to the general University of Toronto Fall Campus Day for prospective undergraduate students at University College. OISE’s recruiter, Nicole Ryan, was giving a presentation about OISE’s teaching programs later in the day. OISE Registrar’s Office wanted someone else to be at the  OISE table while she was away, & to generally have two people there, so there I was! 😛

It was an interesting experience, because talking to high school students & their parents reminded me of how far I’ve come since Grade 12. I now have an undergraduate degree, and some idea of what I’d like to do for the rest of my life. It was surreal to talk to people who are so young & relatively inexperienced.

I found out through Facebook that October 22nd, 2014- two years ago- was the day that I went to OISE’s Open House to find out more about the Masters of Education in Developmental Psychology & Education. Now, in 2016, I was representing OISE as a graduate student! It’s unbelievable how things can change in just a few years……

If anybody reading this post is working on graduate school applications right now, don’t get discouraged! You’ll get through the process & be where you’re meant to be eventually. There were times where I despaired of even graduating with an undergraduate degree, but I did it! ^_^

Now I’m at OISE, and available to answer your questions! So don’t feel shy, and comment on my posts if you’re curious about anything in particular.

Practicum time? But school just started last month…

by Susan
Master of Teaching

Got questions? Ask me: s.he@utoronto.ca

A month ago, this program and all the people in it were new to me. Now that I have become much more familiar with everything and everyone – we are getting separated! (Keep reading to find out why)

As a MT student, October is full of milestones – academic and professional.

Academic Milestones:

I am excited to have received a couple of graded assignments returned to me (they are also the first grades received in grad school!). Personally, the feedback reaffirms that I made the right choice coming to this program and it gives me time to grow and improve. Some of these assignments include oral presentations and making/delivering a lesson plan. I think these are two essential skills teacher candidates should have under their belt going into a practicum.

In my research class, I had submitted a rough draft of my annotated bibliography. Some of my interests going into this included: science literacy, STEM education effectiveness and career exploration in STEM, STEM in pop culture and media, etc. Recording my reviews helped me see where my research question was headed and I had great peer feedback.

Professional Milestones:

OK, I said that my peers and I are getting separated – but it’s only temporary 🙂

What am I talking about?

Practicum! Yes, practicum is just around the corner and October has been full of excitement about where everyone is headed and what subjects everyone is teaching. So practicum is about a month-long in November and February each year. This is when teacher candidates are placed at different schools and school boards around the GTA to gain practical experience in their teaching subjects. Prior to the practicum, I get a taste of my host school’s atmosphere and met my associate teacher (AT). These are observation days usually a week or two before the placement. My associate teacher – the person who mentors me – is super knowledgeable and teaches grade 12 biology and grade 10 science (my forte!).

Although I won’t be seeing my classmates in class for nearly a month, I am looking forward to the first day of practicum because begins on Halloween and I am glad my placement will start off in such a lighthearted way!

Getting through the fall term without a reading week

by Susan
Master of Teaching

 

Its halfway into October and only 1 month since school had started and I’m envious of those with a fall reading week. I mentioned that by the end of last month, due dates came around faster than I had anticipated. In reality, I didn’t lose much sleep meeting those deadlines. How did I do it? Well I had to establish a firm sleep/wake schedule, write out all due dates on a monthly and weekly calendar and get MORE involved outside of my courses.

You heard me correctly. I have graduate/research assistant hours, work-study hours, afterschool high school clubs and recreational sports on top of my 19hr school week. How on earth do I find time to complete my assignments? For most people this is definitely a recipe for disaster. I however need to be kept busy until an hour or two before bedtime – daily. That’s just the pace I need in order to be productive and fill up my day with tasks so I don’t fall into the trap of procrastination. The hours that I dedicate for school work will be used up much more efficiently knowing I have meetings, clubs and other things to attend to. Of course I don’t recommend taking on an extra 15hr of extra work just to be more productive. It’s not for everyone!

Some might be wondering, if you are on top of your school work and other commitments why are you still wishing for a reading week? Simply because a break is necessary for university students. The number of cases of students burning out and coping with their physical and mental health is soaring among university students. Personally, my days are long, even though I am getting 8hr of sleep and taking my mind off of school or work related things before bed, I think that as teacher candidates it’s still nice to take a break for periods longer than a holiday weekend. I want to be able to read something other than a curriculum document, reconnect with nature and go somewhere that does not require the TTC.

Sidenote: If extra-curriculars help you stay on track of your studies, the MT program and OISE offers countless opportunities to get involved!

I better get back to finishing another lesson plan…See you in my next blog!

About Me

by Susan
Master of Teaching

 

Welcome!

My name is Susan and I am a first year Master of Teaching student in the Intermediate and Senior stream. My teachables are Science-General and Science-Biology. I am a busy bee interested in STEM education and methods to teach practical skills in science. Join me in my blog and follow my journey at OISE and at UofT.

Why did you choose OISE and the Master of Teaching program?

I chose OISE because of its reputation in teacher education, the partnerships it has with school boards in the GTA and its active research with faculties across UofT. My research interests involve bridging academic gaps between secondary and post-secondary schools as well as how STEM subjects in secondary school can better inform students about professional schools and career prospects. The MT program is unique in that it will allow me to see the inside of a science classroom and carry out a research project.

What is your academic background? 

I completed my H.B.Sc in Biology at McMaster University. I had the opportunity to TA courses in Cell and Molecular Biology, Research Methodologies in Life Sciences and Introductory Macroeconomics. My interest in curriculum design and pedagogy peaked when I had the opportunity to contribute to the creation of a novel course and along with other courses in the biology department and made recommendations for future implementation of those courses as part of my senior thesis.

 Interesting things about you?

I find Ancient Egypt fascinating and it is my favorite topic to watch as a documentary. I add milk and sugar to my coffee but not my tea. Sometimes I prefer instrumental covers of pop songs rather than the original. In my free time, I enjoy recreational ballet classes, browsing pet shops and catching up on my favorite TV shows.

Comment below if you would like to know anything else about me!

Getting Settled into Grad School (September Overview)

by Susan
Master of Teaching

 

In this post I will be looking back at my transition to:

  1. The University of Toronto St. George Campus
  2. OISE and UTS (Faculty of Education) Building
  3. My cohort
  4. A Typical Week in September

 UofT Campus

I was not prepared for the culture shock of a downtown campus – even though I grew up in the suburbs of Toronto. I spent 4 years in Hamilton, ON while I attended McMaster University. Compared to UofT’s campus which is situated on the TTC subway line and a gateway into Queen’s Park, University Health Network, and Chinatown, McMaster’s campus was standing more on its own with a distinct “on-campus” or “off-campus” feel. I had become accustomed to that distinction in my surroundings that I found myself over-whelmed by the amount of traffic, local shops and businesses, and passer-by’s who are just in the area and don’t even attend the university.

OISE and UTS

I haven’t decided if I like the fact that OISE is immediately connected to St. George station or not. It is certainly convenient for commuters (and during winter) but it is not the same experience as setting foot to the heart of campus and seeing the architecture of some of the iconic UofT buildings each day. Sometimes I have moments where I remember “Oh yeah, OISE is part of the university”.

Depending on the cohort (group) you are assigned and your teachable subject(s), you may also experience classes at the University of Toronto Schools (UTS) – an independent grade 7 – 12 school. As for myself, I spend most of my day at the UTS site, with classes during the day and the option to volunteer with extracurricular activities of the school.

What is a cohort?

Within the three teaching levels, students are split into smaller groups of 30 or so. These individuals will be your rock for the two years in the MT as you take all mandatory courses together. You can count on making awesome new friends no matter which cohort you are placed in. The cohort model also gives each group of TC’s an unique personality. For example, University of Toronto Schools is home to my cohort for intermediate/senior TCs with Global Citizenship being the theme of our cohort and have all my classes at the UTS site.

Typical September week

Class officially started September 12 for MT students and orientation was the week prior. Already half-way into the month, it was a somewhat challenging transition from vacation-mode to serious-school mode. The first week of school was very exciting – new faces and new places. Class discussions reaffirmed my attitude towards group work and problem-based learning.

Expect 16 – 19 hours of class time per week and classes run Monday through Thursday between the hours of 9am – 4pm with occasional half days. You might think that’s nearly as long as a 9 to 5 job but its absolutely doable!

As I reached the last week of September, assignment deadlines became VERY real although class has only been in session for 2 weeks. Nearly catching me off guard, but at the same time the change in pace was exhilarating and kept me on top of my game.

Bottom line to prevent burning out: Know your limits and play within it!

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Anna
by Anna
MEd student, Developmental Psychology and Education

I’ve been in many situations in my life where I haven’t felt entirely comfortable. It’s difficult for me to do certain things or to take risks. It may not seem that way to some people, but I’m not a naturally adventurous person.

I mentioned that I painted a ceramic piece during an outing with a friend of mine during my last blog post, so I’ll continue using that example here. When I went to The Clay Room with my friend Indie, I had never been in that particular area of Toronto before. I don’t have a very good sense of direction, so I had to turn on Location Services on my IPhone to get to the restaurant we agreed to meet at prior to painting pottery at The Clay Room. I found everything successfully, but this didn’t come naturally to me. The fact that I have a poor sense of direction & may sometimes feel anxious about this doesn’t mean that I should never go anywhere or leave my house.

Before I was hired as an OISE Student Ambassador, I became a Volunteer Blogger for an organization that promotes mental health awareness called Healthy Minds Canada. I had never blogged for anyone before, but knew that this was a skill I wanted to develop. This helped me get hired as an OISE Student Ambassador much more than my continuing to tutor fellow students would have.

It would have been easier for me to continue my education at York University, where I did my undergraduate degree. I know York very well, and am familiar with various people & support services offered there. I could have easily chosen to do a certificate in something like TESOL or Human Resources Management. There’s a Sheridan College campus near where I live that offers postgraduate certificates with a co-op placement that would have resulted in a definite possibility of my securing a job right after graduation.

I chose to go to OISE instead, because I am committing to broadening my horizons in the field of education. I didn’t want to take the easy way out. Many students at OISE and in general will say that you can’t learn if you’re never made to feel uncomfortable. I agree with this sentiment. It’s harder for me to go to a larger university as a graduate student, but I have access to more resources & career opportunities as a result.

In my Foundations of Human Development and Education course, students have to write online weekly discussion board postings on various topics of interest. Sounds easy, right? It would be, except for the fact that what’s written needs to be backed up by research & cited correctly. It’s more difficult than just sharing your opinion on a topic, but having these requirements makes for a more thoughtful & informed online discussion. In my Introduction to Special Education & Adaptive Instruction class, we frequently discuss how to effectively work with students who may have behavioral difficulties and/or learn differently. It’s challenging to think critically about how to deal with vulnerable people, but doing so makes everybody in that class a more effective practitioner/policy maker/educator.

Discussing difficult topics, thinking critically, and even doing research is hard. Thankfully, OISE provides a supportive & nurturing environment to help people grow intellectually. I know various international students at OISE, one of who I will be interviewing later on, who have opened my eyes about the difficulties of studying in a completely unfamiliar country. I may not be willing to completely relocate yet, but maybe I will soon. It is only in trying new things that one can truly broaden one’s horizons.

optimized-horizon

Introduction and Why I Chose OISE, U of T

Anna
by Anna
MEd student, Developmental Psychology and Education

Hi there! 🙂 My name is Anna & I’m very excited to get to know anybody & everybody who’s going to be reading my blog posts. I look forward to chronicling & sharing my journey at OISE.

Why OISE?

I chose OISE at the University of Toronto to do a graduate degree because I want to remain close to my support network of friends and family while taking advantage of the resources that a large university has to offer. Toronto is an amazing & vibrant city, so I figured it was in my best interest to stay in the area if I wanted to get a job here after completing a graduate degree.

Why Developmental Psychology and Education?

I chose to do an Master of Education in Developmental Psychology & Education because I’m interested in working in student services at the college or university level, helping students who may be encountering difficulty. This could range from students with disabilities, to international students, to English language learners, and/or even student parents! I chose to take a developmental approach because there isn’t much research or data on some marginalized populations as adults. There’s far more research on children, especially about language learning.

My Perspective/Philosophy

I look at this graduate degree as kind of like painting a ceramic piece. First, I don’t know much of anything or anybody. I’m something of a “blank slate”, much like this blank ceramic mug.

blank-mug

Eventually, I’ll gain experience and insight that will make me stand out among various other professionals. This will happen gradually, much like how I gradually put more & more colour on this once-blank mug.

partially-finished-mug-1

At the end of my degree, I will have gained all sorts of insight & experience that will prepare me to go out & make my mark on the world! ^_^

finished-mug-before-firing

I, like this once-plain ceramic mug, will be transformed.

colourful-butterfly

The pictures of ceramics are courtesy of my trip to The Clay Room with my friend Indie, when we celebrated our getting new jobs.  I haven’t gotten the finished product back from The Clay Room yet, but I will definitely post a picture here when I do. I’m looking forward to seeing the end result, much like how I am looking forward to starting my career.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below & ask. 🙂 I’ll be providing more detail about my graduate degree as time goes on, and I’d like to hear about what prospective students might like to know.