Monthly Archives: January 2017

Reflecting on My First Semester of Graduate School

Hi there! ^_^

I can’t believe so much time has passed, and that I’ve already done my very first semester of graduate school here at OISE. I still have a few final papers to write, but my last class of the semester was this past Monday, December 5th. It’s amazing to think of how much I’ve learned in such a short period of time. For my last blog post of this semester, I’m going to take a look at what I did well and what about my habits may need some improvements.

Accomplishments/Positive Things:

I got a job as an OISE Student Ambassador! This is also a position that’s fairly different From the Work-Study position I used to hold at York University. Getting a job in this economy is hard, and I’m glad that I was able to transition to employment at the University of Toronto/OISE.

I was able to persevere despite obstacles. During early November, I broke a bone in my right hand. Despite this injury, I still went to class and wrote blog posts. This was aided by the speech to text software, Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which I have installed on my computer. Bad things happen sometimes, but I was able to pull through. My hand is now mostly healed, and I’m looking forward to going to school uninjured next semester.

I procrastinated less. Thankfully, I did some of the smaller assignments in my courses earlier than needed. I signed up to lead discussion groups in one of my classes, and selected weeks to do this assignment that weren’t right near the end of the semester. This contributed to my feeling less overwhelmed right around this time of year.

I was able to learn from a variety of different cultures and perspectives. OISE has quite a few international students, and I’ve gotten to know some of them – both inside and outside of class. This has broadened my ideas of what people can be like and what values different cultures hold. This has also broadened my career prospects by making me more likely to consider working abroad.

I have accomplished quite a few things, and really grown as a person. I have, however, also been entrenched in some bad habits that would be in my best interest to fix. Therefore, I’ve made some goals for next semester.

For Improvement:

Work on my time management skills. I procrastinated less than I did in the past, but there’s still room for improvement. In the future, I will make more of an effort to break large assignments into smaller steps and work on them gradually throughout the semester.

Continue to get to know new people. I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten to know people at OISE mainly in class, and not through very many other avenues. In the future, I will make more of an effort to go to events at OISE & within the larger U of T community.

Learn more about fields that I am currently not familiar with. My favorite class this past semester, Introduction to Special Education and Adaptive Instruction, was about an area that I was already pretty familiar with. It was nice to broaden my knowledge, but it may also be beneficial to learn more about areas of study that I haven’t studied before. I’m taking a public policy course about public policy as it relates to children taught by an OISE professor next semester. I don’t know that much about policy, but think that this is an area that warrants further study.

Be more optimistic about my future. I am a bit concerned about my career prospects after I graduate from OISE due to the tough job market, especially for young people. It worries me because I don’t know what’s going to happen, but maybe that’s a good thing. In the future, I will try to be more tolerant of uncertainty. I don’t know what’s going to happen after I graduate, but maybe those changes that will eventually occur after I transition from school to full-time employment will be positive. As such, I’ll try not to be so pessimistic.

Final Thoughts:

I think that reflecting on one’s experiences is a fantastic tool for learning and growth. Writing this blog post has helped me understand how much I’ve accomplished, and how much I have yet to learn. I encourage everybody to reflect on what they’re currently doing, whether it is working full-time, applying to graduate school, or just finishing up their undergraduate degree. You’ll be surprised by how much you’ve learned.

What To Do While Waiting for Grades….

Hi there! ^_^

I hope that everybody had a good winter break from school, & is ready to start the new semester.

I’ve submitted all my coursework for my Fall semester courses, & am now just waiting for my grades. According to OISE’s Important Dates page, grades for Fall semester courses are due on January 13th & will be available for students to view online a week after they are due.

It can be hard to wait for grades sometimes, so I figure it would help if I included a list of things students could do to distract themselves from worrying or being overly anxious.

  1. Prepare for the upcoming semester! It may seem a bit obvious, but focusing on current courses & getting required materials such as textbooks is important.
  2. Do something creative! There are various paint studios, art lounges, & art supply stores in Toronto. I personally recommend going to The Clay Room on Danforth Avenue, which I mentioned in my first post as an OISE Student Ambassador. There’s also Paintlounge, which a friend of mine visited for her work holiday party.
  3. Go to a museum, & immerse yourself in history and/or culture! The Royal Ontario Musuem (ROM) & the Bata Shoe Museum are pretty close to OISE, so why not go there after class?
  4. Join a club on campus! I’m in the process of arranging a volunteer placement through a U of T club called Working Around The Clock Helping (WATCH), which assists children in Toronto’s Regent Park neighborhood.  On-campus clubs can be a great way of gaining practical experience, & getting to know people at school. There’s also a Clubs & Summer Experience Fair on January 17th, organized by the University of Toronto Students’ Union.
  5. Participate in Welcome Week Events! 😀 There’s Winterfest, with events geared mainly toward undergraduate students, and a Winter Welcome Week organized by the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union.
  6. Explore the city of Toronto with some friends! There are various little cafes & places in Toronto that I’ve never been, & I’m going to visit the Iron Rose Tea Gallery with some friends this coming Saturday. For a vegan cafe that’s run by U of T students, check out Harvest Noon! The possibilities are endless, & taking some time to discover the city while you aren’t bogged down with assignments could prove helpful later on.

Toronto is an amazing, vibrant city, & the resources that the University of Toronto offers to students are expansive. It can be challenging to wait for grades, but distracting yourself from worrying can be easy if you just look around you. I hope the things I’ve pointed out in this blog post prove helpful to people, & wish everybody a good first week back to school! ^_^

Building Futures Quick Recap

by Susan
Master of Teaching


This half-day workshop was brought to OISE by leaders from the Ontario Ministry of Education and was open to Master of Teaching and Master of Arts (CSE) students. During registration (online), I was able to choose from 8 different workshops. I ended up attending “Supporting Student Achievement in Literacy and Numeracy” and “”Hire Me!’: Exploring the Psychological Leadership Resources of Self-Efficacy, Resilience, Optimism and Proactivity”. The workshop turned out to be more than I expected. I was in workshops with students who were in the same boat as me and educational leaders from the ministry who were interested hearing about my research. Each workshop provided tons of resources that you could find online or request for free.

I found 3 quotes that resonated with me and described my attitude towards success during the “Hire Me…” session. I hope everyone has their own personal motto that drives their motivation!

“Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves – their strengths, their values, and how they best perform.” – Peter Drucker (2005)

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle

“Small wins are a steady application of a small advantage. Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favour another small win.” – Karl Weick (1984)

If you missed it this year, be sure to check out the Building Future’s website here and come back next fall for another round of great workshops!