Monthly Archives: December 2016

Late Start Days – What it means for teachers

by Susan
Master of Teaching


While in elementary school and high school there were days where I stayed at home as a student because is was a Professional Activity/Development day (usually a Friday). Other days I got to sleep in because school started later in the morning due to Professional Learning Community (PLC) projects for teachers. As a teacher, there is no such thing as a late start morning or a Friday off.  If anything, these days are mandatory for teachers to come together as the entire faculty -not just as departments- and discuss goals and challenges for the school year.

During my practicum this month, each Thursday is a PLC late start day. This means a portion of the morning schedule is dedicated for teachers to work on their PLC project and classes begin later in the morning. At my practicum school, the PLC topic is focused on teacher learning and how that may impact their leadership with students. The teachers are divided into groups that focus on a subtopic and each subtopic must have goals that are measurable and a method of inquiry to meet the goals.

Topics include Equity, Well-being for students, Well-being for teachers, Well-being for bridging interactions between students and teachers and Achievement. Being a part of the PLC groups shed light on to secondary issues that haven’t been discussed in class.

One topic that caught my attention, in particular, was teacher well-being. The issues brought up in the subgroup was marking load and that teachers are bringing their lesson planning and marking home with them. In any particular school day, teachers are constantly readjusting their lessons, working around field trips, absences, assemblies, you name it and on top of that running errands and organizing papers and grades for at least 100 students. The prep period that teachers have each day is maybe enough time to collect your photocopies, answer some emails and attend a meeting or two with the VP or a parent. Not to mention, the many responsibilities before and after school making sure students are supervised and behaving on school property. So where does that leave time for evaluating student work and putting together the next lesson?

I often hear about mental health and well-being in the context of student burn-out but on the flip-side teacher burn-out is an issue no one seems to address openly. Instead, people (non-teachers) often talk negatively about a teacher’s workload and “easiness” of their job. I think until you have been in a teaching position, the job isn’t just teaching the same material and giving out homework every day. Teachers need to feel human, especially if they want their students to be able to relate to them. Some ideas to support teacher well-being include: staff retreats, staff vs. students sports and provide little things like occasional breakfast/luncheon to get teachers through the day. At the end of the day, I believe a teacher’s well-being is partly determined by the appreciation and support the school shows for their teachers.

You can read my post on PA Days HERE.

La Decolonizing Conference- Guest Post by Roxana (EN ESPANOL)

Hi there! ^_^ As promised, here is former OISE Ambassador Roxana‘s post & thoughts about the Decolonizing Conference written in Spanish. If you’d like to read her post in English & hear my thoughts about her experience, please visit my previous blog post HERE.


La Decolonizing Conference


Del 3 al 5 de noviembre, el OISE organizó la Decolonizing Conference 2016, conmemorando el 20 Aniversario del Centro de Estudios Integrativos contra el Racismo (CIARS). La conferencia fue un gran éxito, y atrajo a estudiantes de todas partes de Canadá y diferentes universidades del mundo. Durante la Conferencia, muchas presentaciones y un panel fueron expuestos, así como sorprendentes meas magistrales. Los profesores Eve Tuck, Walter Mignolo y Joyce fueron increíbles. Sus ideas nos permitieron repensar el contexto político y social actual de Canada y el mundo, desde teorías decolonizadoras y pensamiento indígena.

Durante la Conferencia Pacha Arts, una tienda propiedad de activistas indígenas ecuatorianos, estuvieron presentes. El trabajo de ellos es muy importante, dado que su activismo se ve reflejado tanto en la lucha por la justica de poblaciones indígenas canadienses como para poblaciones indígenas en Canadá.

Tuve la oportunidad de presentar en un panel constituido por solo Latinx. Fue una oportunidad increíble para nosotrxs. Recibimos tanto amor después de nuestra presentación y múltiples comentarios de estudiantes diciendo que nunca habían visto una presentación conformada sólo por Latinx en universidades canadienses. Esos comentarios me hicieron apreciar aún más la existencia de la Decolonizing Conference y, por supuesto, la posibilidad que la OISE da a sus profesores y estudiantes para celebrar un evento tan maravilloso.

The Decolonizing Conference- Guest Post by Roxana

Hi there! ^_^ For this week’s post, I am including former OISE Ambassador Roxana’s thoughts on a conference that she attended, volunteered for, and was a part of recently at OISE. I will also be including my thoughts on her experience at the end.


The Decolonizing Conference


From November 3-5, OISE held the Decolonizing Conference 2016, commemorating the 20th Anniversary of The Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies (CIARS). The conference was a huge success, and it brought students from all over Canada and different universities around the world. During the Conference, lots of presentations and panel were exhibited, as well as amazing keynotes. Professors Eve Tuck, Walter Mignolo, and Joyce King were incredible. Their insights allowed us to rethink the current Canadian and worldwide political and social context, from decolonizing and indigenous knowledge backgrounds.

During the Conference, it was also really amazing to see the people from Pacha Arts, a store owned by Indigenous Ecuadorian activists, who are continuously supporting indigenous people in Canada as well.

I had the opportunity to present in a panel with all Latinx people. It was an amazing opportunity for all of us. We received so much love after our presentation and multiple comments from students saying that they had never seen a presentation by only Latinx people in Canadian universities. These comments made me appreciate even more the existence of the Decolonizing Conference, and of course, the possibility that OISE gives to its faculty and students to hold such a wonderful event.

– Roxana


Final thoughts from Anna

I didn’t attend this conference myself, but am glad that OISE as an institution is so open to a variety of perspectives and life experiences. This openness leads to a richer and more diverse academic life. Roxana’s involvement in this conference is also a good example of how somebody who is in a non-thesis graduate program can still get involved in the scholarly and academic life of OISE.

More information & pictures of the conference are available on Facebook HERE, & on the conference’s official website HERE.

You can read the Spanish language version of this post, also written by Roxana, HERE.

Reflecting on My First Graduate-Level Presentation

by Anna
MEd student, Developmental Psychology and Education

This past Monday, November 28th I did my first presentation in graduate school. It was for my Reading in a Second Language course taught by Professor Esther Geva.

I have to admit that I was a little overwhelmed when preparing for this presentation, but everything turned out all right in the end. I’m good at talking, presenting facts, and sharing my opinion. Upon further reflection, making presentations is actually easier for me than writing papers. Our professor also allowed people to present in pairs or groups; this likely made the presentation much less frightening for some students. I chose to present individually because that’s what I’m comfortable with.

I’m happy to report that my first graduate-level presentation went well! ^_^ There was discussion, everything I said made sense, and my topic tied into what the professor was going to be talking about for that particular class.

I thought it might be helpful to include some strategies I used to ensure things ran smoothly.

Without further ado, I present…

Anna’s Superstar Tips For Effective Presentation Preparation:

  1. Schedule your presentation around the middle of the semester so you can get presentation ideas from the students who presented before you.
  2. Include a clear agenda so that your audience knows what to expect.
  3. If you aren’t that technologically savvy, get a friend or trusted classmate to help you set up your presentation and run it effectively.
  4. Try to relate your presentation content to your own personal experiences, and to what was said in the class previously.
  5. Include enough research to make your point, and try not to overwhelm your audience with statistics.
  6. Involve your audience by including discussion, and asking them to reflect on what they already know about your topic before you begin.

Final Thoughts:

I hope that these tips help prospective students understand the process behind giving a good presentation. It’s not that difficult if you prepare, and it will be over before you know it. Try to relax and make the most of the experience. You never know when presentation skills may come in handy after you’re done your graduate degree at OISE.

Connecting Theory and Practice: My Virtual Life

by Anna
MEd student, Developmental Psychology and Education

One of the biggest complaints I had heard students make when I was doing my undergraduate degree was that what they were learning didn’t seem relevant or important to real life. In classes that had more practical applications, such as Developmental Psychology, there was still a lot of theory and facts. There wasn’t much opportunity to apply knowledge in a practical context.

Thankfully, that isn’t the case here at OISE. I have plenty of opportunity to apply concepts learned in class to case studies and various other forms of experiential learning.

For this particular blog post, I am going to focus on the My Virtual Life software developed by Pearson Education.

In one of my required courses, Foundations of Human Development and Education, I have a rather unique assignment. I have to grow a virtual child and a virtual adult using the My Virtual Life software developed by Pearson. The completion of the virtual child and adult is worth 10% of my overall grade in the course.

To extend the experience further, I have a Final Paper worth 40% of my grade where I have to pick specific examples from the life of my virtual adult and/or child. These examples are meant to illustrate points in a particular area of development and education that I have decided to examine further.

How My Virtual Life Works

I filled out relevant personal information about myself to create both the virtual adult and virtual child. The process of growing the child and adult to completion is basically answering a bunch of multiple-choice questions about relevant life choices and reflecting on specific parts of life through short answer questions as prompted by the program. The point of My Virtual Life is to understand how certain life choices and parenting tactics affect human development. It’s a nice complement to the theory of the foundation course that every DPE MEd student has to take.


(One of the multiple choice questions I had to answer for my virtual adult.)

Classmates I have spoken to have also said that it’s useful, but some people have also said that it’s fairly easy to make certain decisions virtually and a different matter altogether to make them in real life. These people said more specifically that it was easy to decide to parent a virtual child in a firm and consistent manner, but much harder to do that with an actual child. I see their point, but feel that having a virtual or simulated experience is better than having no practical experience at all.


(A snapshot of one of my virtual child’s milestones.)


(A later milestone of my virtual child.)

Another benefit of the program is that you can follow the syllabus for course themes and readings as you grow your child to gain a better understanding of each developmental stage as it occurs.

My virtual child, Samuel, is fully grown but my adult is taking longer. I think that this is a useful exercise, but that people need to keep up with it throughout the course of the semester in order for it to be beneficial.

Final Thoughts:

I hope that this post helps prospective students understand how courses at OISE strive to make content relevant and meaningful to everyday life. In this day and age, practical application of skills is important, and I’m glad that I’m in a graduate program that encourages this.