The number of lessons that teacher candidates (TC) are required to teach increases during each practicum, and therefore, this past month (considering it was my third placement), I was teaching the whole day during my last week. I was excited and ready for the greater amount of teaching time and added classroom responsibilities because not only was my associate teacher (AT) very supporting, but also being a second year student at OISE meant that I had a lot more course material and discussions to draw from. One course that really influenced my teaching pedagogy and lessons was my Anti-Discriminatory Education course directed by professor Nicole West-Burns. I approached my language and social studies lessons with an equity, anti-oppressive, and anti-bias perspective. The highlights from my language lessons included ‘making connections’ to ‘The Other Side’, ‘Mr. Lincolns Way’ (books on racism and racial segregation), and ‘Wonder’ (a very popular book about bullying), and analyzing media texts (toys and advertisements) for gender and racial stereotypes and representation. The conversation and questions initiated by the students were truly impressive and lead to critical discussions that demonstrated their engagement, eagerness to learn, and prepared them to be critical of the world around them.
This placement was definitely the most rewarding for me; perhaps it was the grade level, my wonderful class, my level of confidence, my friends placed in the same school, or maybe a combination of them all.
Helpful tip: The OISE library has countless teaching material and resources that we, the teacher candidates, can sign out for practicum (or any other time of the year). For instance, some of the activity kits include a 3D digestive system, musical instruments, and Blitzwolf Virtual Reality Glasses. On the other hand, it is a little inconvenient to commute downtown to sign out and return these resources.
As an extension of our Social Studies course the professor decided to take us on a walk through some of University of Toronto’s popular areas. I have walked all these paths numerous times but it was different this time as I was observing the environment through a social studies lens. I appreciate each of these significant places a little more now as I have learned about the history of the land.
One destination during our walk was ‘Philosophers walk’, a popular walkway for many getting across campus and the general public. We walked on a land that was once a body of water and the water was buried years ago for a Royal visit. Before Philosopher’s walk was altered, Indigenous groups used the river to fish and to travel to and from Lake Ontario. While sitting at the Amphitheatre and learning that it was a place for Indigenous groups to get together, the feeling of empathy arose in me as this beautiful natural land was destroyed by human construction, and continues to be destroyed and altered.
Some other trips and workshops that I took part in include:
Social Studies trip to Evergreen Brick Works: Learned how the land has transformed over the years and how this place can be used as an educational field trip for our future students.
Picture: Machine that made bricks back in the day and the hiking path.
Supporting English Language Learners trip to Bata Shoe Museum: Workshop on different types of shoes and different materials that can be used to make shoes. The custom made Timberland boots for Shaquille O’Neil.
Art trip to Art Gallery of Ontario: Different textures and techniques used in paintings. How art is used to express and present different themes, such as global warming and exploitation of natural resources.
Science in-class workshop on Robotics and STEM.
I have successfully completed 2 out of 4 of my practicums, Kindergarten and grade 3, with the Peel District School Board. I will be starting my third practicum for the month of November in a grade 5 classroom also with the PDSB. Not every student gets a different grade or a different school for each placement-it depends on the availability of schools and associate teachers who are willing to take teacher candidates. I got lucky to have a great range of grades and schools so far. That being said, the coordinators will ensure that over the 4 practicums at least 1 would be in the primary level and 1 at the junior level (as I am in P/J), and they will ensure that your commute is no longer than 90 minutes. MT students are allowed to change their preferred school boards for each practicum but I choose to keep mine in Peel as it is the easiest for me to commute to.
I am looking forward to teaching grade 5 students as it will be my first time in a junior classroom. Before each placement month we are scheduled to go in for 1-2 observation days. These observation days allow us to get to know our associate teacher (AT) , the students, the class culture/atmosphere, and the school set up before starting to teach. My first observation went great as everyone was very welcoming and helpful. I was looking forward to teaching science this practicum but unfortunately my AT does not teach science. Instead, I will probably teach social studies and media (language arts)!
I had applied to numerous Bachelor of Education program and the Master of Teaching program to fulfill my goal of becoming a teacher. Choosing the MT program was a very easy decision for me as I will be getting a masters as well as my certification to teach in Ontario in essentially the same amount of time; something that is unique to OISE. Aside from the courses to get me OCT certified and 4 1 month long placements, I am also required to write a Master of Teaching Research Paper. Students get to a chance to conduct their own small scale qualitative research study in an area of their choosing. This really attracted me because it allowed me to incorporate my own areas of interest, concern, and passion into my research, and essentially tailor my learning to my own interest.
Being in my second year I am still happy with my decision. The cohort based classes are very conducive to learning and it helps to build a learning community where everyone is there to support one another. The professors are all very knowledgeable, filled with great experiences, friendly, extremely helpful, understanding, and genuinely want you to do well. Course evaluations are also taken into great considerations as all our needs and concerns are immediately addressed.
St. George Campus
I have always wanted to be downtown for schooling and I am in love with it. I did my undergrad at York University and the campus was a typical university campus; standing on its own. The St. George campus is huge and very beautiful. The older buildings each have their own little courtyards with benches, which are great for walks or for a nice study area in the summer. There is also affordable restaurants in the area for a quick snack or meal before and after classes. We also get access to all the libraries on campus. When studying gets tiresome there is always something to do in Toronto and my friends and I really explored around in the summer semester when we had classes only two days a week!
The OISE building does not have a lot of food options; only a very small cafeteria, but there are places to eat right outside the building.