Monthly Archives: February 2017

Final Post and Reflecting on My Time as OISE Student Ambassador

Hi there! ^_^

It’s now the last week of February, and my Work-Study contract as an OISE Student Ambassador is done. I thought I’d use this final post to reflect on what I’ve learned from this experience, and wrap up any stories I started telling earlier.

I’ve learned……

  • that running a large event smoothly takes a lot of work and preparation. I played a relatively small role in OISE’s Educating for Peace and Justice Conference, but it was still obvious that organizing and facilitating this conference took a lot of effort. I had to troubleshoot relatively minor matters, such as figuring out what to do when presenters didn’t have name tags,  so I can only imagine how the organizers of the event must have felt when they had to problem-solve bigger issues.
  • that theoretical issues I’ve learned about at OISE have practical applications. I’ve previously discussed that my experience in my Reading in a Second Language class motivated me to get experience teaching young children to read. I’ve also discussed that using the My Virtual Life software in my Foundations of Human Development & Education class provided me with useful, albeit simulated, experience about raising a child and an adult. I’m glad I chose to continue my education at OISE precisely because it is so practical.
  • that I enjoy working with children! ^_^ I do prefer working with individual children or small groups as opposed to larger groups, but I do generally like working with young people. I hope to gain more experience working with children and families throughout my degree. Since writing that post about gaining volunteer experience through a U of T club, I’ve been approved and have started volunteering at that after school program run by the Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Club. I’m also in the process of potentially volunteering at a March Break camp at York University. These activities ought to help keep me occupied for the rest of the academic year.
  • that blogging about my experience as a graduate student helped me reflect on my experience. It also shows potential future employers that my MEd has practical value, and that I’m not just at OISE to avoid dealing with real life. Writing this post has helped me realize how far I’ve come since September 2016, and it’s important to recognize one’s growth as an individual.

Lastly, I’d like to show my readers what that ceramic mug I painted at the beginning of the school year looks like now:

This used to be a blank, white piece of ceramic before I painted it, and now it’s a functional part of my daily life. It’s amazing what I and this mug have gone through since September. I’ve overcome struggles, gotten to know a diverse group of people in my classes, and generally figured out a bit more about what I’d like to do for the rest of my life.

It is with these final words that I bid my readers goodbye and good luck in their journey towards OISE and during their time here.

I’ve truly enjoyed blogging for and representing OISE, but now it’s time to move on. Goodbye! ^_^

Review of Cabaret The Musical

Hi there! ^_^

I hope that February has treated everybody well. It’s hard to believe that my second semester of graduate school will be done soon. It seems like almost yesterday that I was going to my first class at OISE.

For this week’s post, I’ve decided to share one of my other interests outside of the field of education: musical theatre! 😀

My past few posts have been a bit too serious, so I figured it was time to liven things up a bit. Late last year, I received an email from Mirvish about discounted seats to certain shows. One of them was Cabaret, a love story set in 1930s Berlin. I enjoyed this musical when I saw it several years ago at the Stratford Festival, so I figured it was high time to see the show again.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw Cabaret at the Princess of Wales Theatre with my mother! ^_^ We had a fabulous time, and my understanding of the show definitely improved from when I was younger.

Cabaret follows the story of American writer Clifford Bradshaw’s ill-fated romance with British nightclub singer Sally Bowles. I won’t spoil the plot of the show too much, but let’s just say that these were two people who didn’t have enough in common to make a relationship work.

Along with this love story, viewers also got a look at the inner workings of Berlin’s KitKat Club and the romance between Cliff’s landlord and a Jewish fruit seller. While all this was occurring, the political climate of Hitler’s Germany was quickly taking shape. Some characters of the show insisted that Hitler’s political nonsense would easily pass, but the audience unfortunately knew better. Our hero Clifford had the right idea, and quickly left Germany for Paris before things got too out of hand.

The show began and ended with Clifford at a train station in Berlin, to signify that the plot of the show and his romance with Sally had run its natural course. I don’t feel it would be appropriate to write too much about the plot in case I spoil it for potential viewers, but this production and its cast was truly spectacular! 🙂 Standouts included Randy Harrison as the Emcee of the show, and Leigh Ann Larkin as the irrepressible Sally Bowles. Harrison did a lot to keep the plot moving along smoothly, while Larkin had just the right amount of charisma and talent necessary to play Sally.

I also enjoyed the way “The Pineapple Song” was staged. All the little pineapples being included in the scenery was a nice touch, and using a disco ball provided this tender scene between two characters with a nice ambiance.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, I’m glad that I got to see this musical in Toronto. The Princess of Wales Theatre is a fantastic venue, and its bathrooms are spectacular. I didn’t take any pictures of the performance auditorium because people aren’t supposed to do that, but I did take a photo of myself in the bathroom. 😛 I highly suggest that people see a show at this theatre if they live, work, or go to school in Toronto.

I do, however, suggest that people subscribe to Mirvish’s mailing list and try to get some sort of discount. Theatre tickets aren’t cheap, and students don’t always have a lot of money to spare. I paid less than $50 per seat for tickets for my mother and I, and we were seated in the second row of the balcony. Considering the discount I received, our seats were pretty good. ^_^ You could also try to get Rush Seats by showing up to the theatre  an hour or two ahead of the performance times. (Rush Seats aren’t always available for every show or performance time, but I figured I’d bring it up anyway in case people were interested.)

If you ever do see a show at the Princess of Wales Theatre, you’ll be able to use a bathroom that looks like this:

Isn’t that just classy? 😛

Interview with: Domestic Student, Farhana Shaheed

Hi everybody! 🙂

I hope you’ve been doing well. For this week’s post, I’ve decided to interview a domestic student I met in one of my classes. Hearing from the perspectives of international students in my previous interviews has been invaluable, but domestic students do go to OISE too and their voice also deserves to be represented.

I got to know Farhana Shaheed a bit better when we were working on an assignment about moderating discussion in our Interpretation of Educational Research class. She’s a 1st year MEd student in Developmental Psychology & Education who’s graduating in 2018.

Farhana graciously agreed to be interviewed after I asked my group members if they were interested in being profiled on the OISE blog after our assignment together was over, so here are her thoughts on OISE & DPE:

What drew you to OISE’s program?

I completed my undergraduate degree through OISE/UT as a part of the first cohort to pioneer through the Concurrent Teacher Education Program (CTEP). After a two-year stint teaching English and Social Studies in a secondary school in Southeast London, I found myself back in Toronto unsure of where the field of education would take me. I always wanted my next step to be graduate school. I researched several grad programs and schools; I found that the DPE program was most in line with my research and vocational interests. As an OISE alumnus, I also felt a real sense of nostalgia about the prospect of returning.

What did you love about the program and/or your professors and peers?

The DPE program and its courses offer students the opportunity to explore all sorts of topics and research interests. There is a real range of subjects you can take with varied times offered – this gives me the chance to work and study in a way convenient for me.

The peers in my program all have similar ambitions, but are driven by different motivations and end goals. There is a great mix of educators and individuals from completely different fields; we also get the chance to work with colleagues from around the world.

The professors are experienced and offer the opportunity to contemplate and explore topics so we arrive at our own conclusions. I really enjoy the courses that mix assignment types so we get to apply our learning in different ways: learning seminars, research papers, conferences, online discussions, flyers, and so forth. All of these experiences really come together to create a dynamic learning environment.

What did you learn about yourself at OISE?

I have always loved learning; however, I am now more cognizant of the fact that if I’m not overly interested in a topic I can easily drift off. Therefore, OISE has taught me to ensure I am taking courses that I find intriguing. I know that I really enjoy working with like-minded colleagues and can learn well collaboratively. OISE has made it possible to manage my time effectively. Working and doing a Masters full-time is not easy! I am always organizing my day to make sure I am maximizing opportunity to do all the things that need to get done while trying to maintain a social life as well. I have also learned that taking advantage of events held by the department and university are always great experiences to learn what research is taking place and learn from others.

What would you say to a future OISE student?

Pick an area of study that you are truly excited by! That way classes, readings and assignments will seem that much more enjoyable. Take advantage of all the services offered to graduate students: study rooms, writing centers, work-out rooms, social events, etc. Don’t forget to have fun! Graduate school is different from your undergrad; you’ve got a lot more control.

Final Thoughts:

I think that Farhana is a really interesting person, and commend her for being able to both go to school and work full-time. I don’t think I would be able to do it! 😛 Her testimony is evidence that OISE offers a lot of flexibility to its students, and that an MEd in DPE is worth considering to anybody truly passionate about the field of education.

Anybody interested in reading my previous interviews can go HERE to read my interview with my friend Yisha, or go HERE to read my very first interview with my friend Siwen. OISE has a really diverse student body, and I’m glad I have the opportunity to document some people’s unique experiences. ^_^

Interview with: International Student, Yisha Tang

Hi there! ^_^

For this week’s blog post, I’m going to take a bit of a break from talking about my experience at OISE and let somebody else share their experience.

I’m going to share an interview with my friend Yisha Tang, who I met last semester in my Reading in a Second Language class. She helped me set up and run my PowerPoint for the presentation I mentioned HERE, and I really appreciated her help. I’m not that good at figuring out how technology works sometimes, and having somebody help me run things the day of my presentation was invaluable.

Yisha just finished her MEd in Developmental Psychology & Education this past semester, and will be graduating this June 2017. She is an international student from China. Without further ado, I present her thoughts on her OISE experience:

What drew you to OISE’s program?

The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) was a totally new institution for me, but Chinese people are familiar with the top-ranking universities all over the world. The University of Toronto, with its academic reputation, appeals to many Chinese students and their parents. The reason why I choose to pursue further study at OISE is that, firstly, OISE plays an important role in educational research worldwide. OISE has a large number of teaching and educational resources, qualified faculty, and diverse teaching and studying groups. Secondly, as a crucial unit of the University of Toronto, OISE has attracted many renowned scholars and professors, who share their research experience with students by offering lectures, seminars, and taking part in the classroom. Thirdly, OISE has diverse community groups who like to share their culture and values to bring a better multicultural perspective.

What did you love about the program and/or your professors and peers?

I did not study psychology and education systematically before I came to OISE. My professors and peers are very willing to provide their advice and offer their help. We have a lot of team work for each course, in activities like group presentations, poster displaying, and designing lesson plans.

My peers always offer good suggestions and constructive ideas to create a cooperative learning atmosphere. Professors in our department, Applied Psychology and Human Development, have research expertise and lots of teaching experience. They value different perspectives brought in by local and international students. Their lectures are informative, research intensive, and well-structured. They are willing to offer their own insights into issues on developmental psychology and education.  In each class, I can meet so many kind and knowledgeable colleagues from different countries, hear their opinions, and share our experiences and viewpoints.

What did you learn about yourself at OISE?

In addition to professional knowledge and research, I have a clearer understanding about myself after I completed this program. It triggered my interest in early education and psychology, which remained unknown to me before I started the program. The passion of the faculty at OISE has motivated me to explore more possibilities in educational research.  I find myself curious about theories of child and adolescent development after taking courses in the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development. Besides, I learned to be an independent thinker and a critical reader. In my previous learning periods, teachers usually asked us to memorize all core text content and figure out the right answers without critical thinking. However, scholars at OISE encourage us to read and learn critically and use evidence-based proofs to illustrate our points of view.  It takes effort at the beginning, but then I found myself enjoying the process of reviewing literature and critically summarizing existing research. In addition to independent learning, I also developed my teamwork skills and interpersonal communication. Nearly all the courses in our department involve cooperative activities around academic topics. Students are very willing to contribute their ideas and experience to group activities, such as discussions, presentations, and demo teaching.

What would you say to a future OISE student?

As an international student myself, I highly recommend international students join the OISE community. The courses, lectures, classrooms and libraries provide students with an optical learning environment.  The professors and scholars create an encouraging and harmonious study atmosphere. You can meet friends from all around the world and share experiences and knowledge with your peers. OISE provides various seminars and student services, such as career consultation, paper editing and resume designing. Meanwhile, courses at OISE are so flexible that you could choose online courses or mixed courses if you are occupied with your job.

Now that you are done your degree, what are you doing to secure employment and/or figure out what to do next?

I would like to look for jobs related to education and teaching. I had a part-time teaching job when I was a full-time student at OISE, teaching IELTS prep courses at a private school. I also volunteered to teach kids on the weekends. With the knowledge and skills I learned at OISE, I believe I have a more mature teaching perspective and professional knowledge to develop my teaching career path. Fortunately, the school where I worked as a part-time teacher is willing to offer me a full-time job. They value what I learned from the program and speak highly of my personal efforts.

Do you have any advice or tips for current or future OISE students about how to prepare for the workforce?

Yes, definitely. My advice is, firstly, prepare your resume and cover letter as early as possible. Post this information on LinkedIn if you want to expand your professional network. You can also book resume writing and editing sessions at the OISE Student Success Center. You can join various workshops offered by the Career Learning Network at the University of Toronto. They offer hands-on materials, and a series of workshops on getting a job.  Generally, building a network plays an important role in finding an ideal job position in the job market. Actually, OISE provided me with a large network of stakeholders from different school settings. I learned a lot from them and obtained first-hand job-related information and resources. They shared many education-related job posts available online with me, and encouraged me to take part in job fairs on campus. You could also approach tutors and professors in your department to ask for their guidance and suggestions about your future career path. 

I think it is beneficial for international students to reach out and get more local working experience. The urgent concern for international students, including me, is to apply for a valid Work Permit which allows them to find a full-time job after graduation. Besides, although Toronto has an optimal job market in Canada, jobs related to the educational field are limited- especially for international students, based on my research.

Final Thoughts:

I think Yisha has a good head on her shoulders, and is well-prepared for the next stage of her life. What she says about finding a full-time job and building a career makes sense. I’m glad I got to know her during my first semester here at OISE, and wish her the best of luck with the rest of her life! 😀

Anybody interested in reading another interview with an international student at OISE can go HERE to read my interview with my friend Siwen Tang.

I have learned a lot about life and education through meeting so many different people with so many different perspectives at OISE. I highly encourage anybody who is interested to apply to OISE, and start their own journey here! ^_^

Turn your MT research paper into a scholarship

by Susan
Master of Teaching

 

Doing any sort of post-secondary program can be costly and as a grad student, money isn’t easy to come by! The MT program has a major research paper component (MTRP) as part of the program requirement – kind of like how other master’s programs come with a thesis option. What’s great is that the research paper is built into one of the mandatory courses which is structured so that at the end of each term, you will have produced an annotated bibliography, a literature review, research methods and a final publication style paper.

So how can you turn paper into a scholarship? Well, it just so happens that the deadline for the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) is due each year in the winter semester. This means you would have had the opportunity to complete an annotated bibliography, reading through some of the literature relevant to your research interest. All you need to do after that is to submit a description of your current progress in the MT program, show that you have done some literature review about your topic, include any past research experiences and voila your application is ready for submission!