Erika Quach’s Junior/Intermediate Perspective

I often get asked questions from students also interested in the Junior/Intermediate stream. What better way to hear about student experiences as a J/I MT candidate than someone who is actually from that stream! I was able to reach Erika Quach from a J/I cohort and she was super excited to share her experiences with prospective students. To hear what she had to say continue reading below!

Erika Quach J/I Cohort 262

Your experience so far?

My experience in the Junior/Intermediate program has been rewarding. I’ve learned how to multi-task to thrive in both hands-on practica experiences and in academics papers. OISE strives to provide many collaborative activities and current research so that you feel well-equipped as a knowledgeable teacher.

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

As soon as I heard about the Master of Teaching (MT) program, I was immediately enthralled. Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher. I also enjoyed reading, engaging with new research about effective pedagogy, and analyzing texts. But prior to the OISE Master of Teaching program, there were only Bachelor of Education certifications available to become an Ontario Certified Teacher (OCT). I had heard these programs were simple workshop style classes with a multitude of reflections. But I desired to learn more in higher academics.

I wished to be accepted and spent a lot of time on Google reading about OISE. I had my fingers crossed for months and talked to all my friends about my hopes. The MT program enables you to attain both your Master’s degree and to become certified as an OCT. It’s a blend of academic research, field experience, and classes about pedagogical practice. When I received early acceptance, I cried and felt like my dream came true! Now, I’m able to fulfill the requirements to become a teacher and I can accomplish research in a chosen field of interest.

What is your academic background? 

My teachable is English which is quite fitting since I’ve always been a lover of literature. I majored in Early Childhood Studies (ECS) at Ryerson University with a minor in English. In ECS, there were many undergraduate papers regarding child development and teaching and this prepared me for the OISE MT program. I applied to both the Primary/Junior and Junior/Intermediate options.

But I was afraid I wouldn’t be accepted into the Junior/Intermediate concentration (with a teachable in English) because English was a minor. However, I tried anyway! I wouldn’t have minded being accepted into either P/J or J/I. My preference was J/I because I am fascinated with words and books, and to be able to teach English would be wonderful.

I ended up with early acceptance into both options. I was ecstatic that my English minor fulfilled the requirements! If in doubt, try anyway! I almost didn’t attempt applying to J/I, and now I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do: be an English teacher. My ECS background may have contributed since the written application component contained my previous experiences with young learners.

What is a typical week in a J/I cohort like?

In a J/I cohort, I spend all my classes with the same group of people from Monday-Thursday. On Wednesday, there is only one afternoon class. Some Wednesdays, there are no classes at all! My cohort feels like family now and I honestly look forward to seeing them every day. Being with the same group of people helps because you all have the same underlying goal (to teach our future) and you can support each other during times of heavy due dates! Time after class is usually spent doing readings or assignments. I wouldn’t suggest working on the weekdays after school. Occasionally, our cohort has socials and we all spend time together outside of class!

During practicum, you teach for a month and spend all your nights lesson planning for the next day. The key is to always be prepared! I didn’t see my fellow cohort members during practicum, but we kept in touch through Facebook to discuss lesson plans and any teaching issues we needed help with.

On the weekends, I work part-time. It’s possible to balance classes, school work, and a job.

What is practicum/lesson planning like in J/I?

Practicum is tiring since you teach Monday-Friday and may have some MT assignments due after your teaching block. But if you manage your time and focus on assignments you can complete before practicum starts, you can concentrate on practicum without worries. Communicating with your Associate Teacher to determine lessons and common practices within the school will help you in preparation. OISE provides great lesson plan templates and if you need assistance with lesson ideas, Pinterest and your cohort are your friends!

Bring hand sanitizer! Ensure you get lots of rest and make time for yourself. Every time you finish a practicum block, you leave with new tools that will benefit you as a future teacher. You learn to work with diverse groups of people, including students and school staff. I always get excited about practicum because I’m able to gain field experience, make connections, and add to my repertoire of pedagogical methods.

How are you bringing the J/I teaching environment into the MTRP?

My MTRP is about mindfulness in the classroom and how this practice influences learning. I thought about the students I worked with in each practicum block to meaningfully consider how meditation interacts with learning processes. Luckily, I was able to observe children in my last practicum meditating during morning announcements. They listened to a guided meditation with conscious awareness and were attentive throughout the day. Depending on your research, the teaching environment you’re in has the potential to nurture new ideas.

Anything else you would like to share about yourself?

I’m a proponent of holistic wellness and believe balance is significant to happiness. As a fitness enthusiastic, I’ve noticed a domino effect with this hobby fostering positive habits in other areas of my life. Find what interests your authentic self and make time for it!

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