Author Archives: Susan

Would I chose OISE again?

I have been waiting a long time to write this post.  This past year has been quite a ride compared to my first year! I noticed that the pace of the program really picked up during the summer. Partly was due to work and other commitments. Entering the last few months of my program is a bittersweet feeling. I am more aware of my teaching style and how I like to interact with learners.

What are your thoughts on research and electives? Any ups and downs?

This past year, the MT program has introduced the Master of Teaching Research Journal and introduced a limited number of student-faculty research opportunities to support the diverse research interests of MT students. These efforts show that the MT program is committed to developing research-informed teacher candidates. Speaking solely for me however, I would have liked the flexibility in selecting my own research methodology and applying for research ethics – which is all part of the graduate student research experience. I think this would have been met with an MA degree because a thesis and methodology course is required.

What did I learn about myself as an educator?

When I first started this program I thought I would only effective to students above a certain age. I preferred mature students who have developed interested in specific subjects – which is why I chose the intermediate/senior stream, so I could have rich discussions around subject content. After four practicums and various extracurricular and co-curricular involvements with students from grades 3 to 12, I no longer see myself as a classroom teacher. The one-on-one interactions with students confirmed that learning happens best when students have a trusting relationship.

So? I most definitely would chose OISE again for the opportunities within OISE, the network of students, instructors and staff, and partnerships it has across the UofT campus. The opportunities are abundant here, but don’t wait them to come to you – go after them yourself!

Can you put a salary on good teaching?

When you truly enjoy something you are doing, you would do it without pay, or without thinking about being paid…

The past two years, MTs in the program were uncertain what pay grade the degree will lead to after graduation. At the 2017 December Professional Preparation Conference (which is held annually), representatives from QECO announced the MT degree will be an A3 category by their current assessment. Find out more information about QECO and teachers they represent here.

For prospective students this shouldn’t deter anyone from going into a particular initial teacher’s education program and this certainly doesn’t justify going into a particular program for the pay scale that is beyond the  institutions control. Student should choose their initial teacher’s ed program thinking about how they would like to shape their 2 years of becoming a teacher, what experiences the program can offer and what the larger institution can offer.

The MT program is an intense two years. Students are challenged in their teaching and thinking through graduate electives and research. It’s all about fit. Ask yourself if the program sounds like what you are all about and if you have something to offer the program in terms of personal growth or a particular set of skills and strengths.

When students know it’s a formative assessment

Motivating an entire class of students to try their best on a test, quiz, assignment or even homework is hard enough, but students now know the difference between summative and formative assessments.

Being the great student I was back in the day, I took every chance for feedback and self-assessment seriously. Students now know the difference between:

  1. Assessment of Learning (ex. unit test)
  2. Assessment for Learning (ex. teacher grading/feedback)
  3. Assessment as Learning (ex. peer grading/feedback)

I get questions like “Is this formative?”, “Does this count for marks?”, “Is this Assessment of Learning?” because students now know most assessments do not count towards their grades.

I couldn’t believe it when I heard this at practicum. Those are new terms for me to digest yet students can name name them off the top of their head! Speaking from the teacher perspective, it’s quite a challenge encouraging unmotivated students to see the value of trying their best no matter how much an assignment is worth. Speaking of effort, when I mark assessments regardless if it counts for marks or not, I am giving just as much feedback and comments for “the next assignment”. It can be frustrating to

Since practicum is only a month long, I can’t comment on the long term effects of formative and summative assessments. I do hope that before the school year is over, students see the importance of having different types of assessments rather than just “for marks” and “not for marks”.

Quick practicum tip: avoid profiling students in your classroom

I can’t believe how fast time flies. I am now half way into my third practicum  – which began in September as a pilot project. Interestingly, my practicum schools have all be located near busy downtown Toronto. That means, you are bound to teach students from all sorts of social locations.

In an academic setting, we all have preconceived notions of what a “strong” student looks like. If educators are profiling students based on their “looks”, they are in for a surprise. Students will be flying under the radar: academic strengths that go undetected from students profiled as no likely to be academically strong and education gaps that go undetected from students deemed to look “like they get it”.

Papers are published about underrepresented populations all the time, and certain racial groups are always categorized as groups under-served in education. Not every classroom we teach in is like the papers we read. We shouldn’t categorize our current students by race and ability which would alter our attitudes towards them.

Go into practicum believing each student can be motivated and give students an opportunity to make an impression on you before you decide for them!

A Visit From the Aga Khan Foundation of Canada

by Susan
Master of Teaching


Students in the MT program are no strangers to 21st century competencies.

This October, the MT program is fortunate enough to have presenters from the Aga Khan Foundation of Canada (AKFC) to deliver workshops for teaching Global Citizenship in the classroom. AKFC presenters Genevieve and Afroza were experienced and eager in leading the workshop on how to teach Global Citizenship in the classroom and provided ready-to-use teaching aids.

If you are a prospective teacher, consider ways you can incorporate culture, equity, and sustainability into your class!

AKFC Global Citizenship Workshop, Oct 2017

A shocking statistic that I’m walking away today is the “Average Person” you would encounter in the world (compiled by National Geographic in 2011).

Age: 28

Gender: Male

Ethnic group: Han Chinese

Handedness: Right-handed

Average income: $12,000 US

Bank account: No

Cell-phone: Yes




Back-to-school, back-to-OISE


by Susan
Master of Teaching


With big goals, comes big responsibilities…

I’ve been away form the keyboard for a while, but I’m back to update you on everything that has happened since April. I will kickoff the first post of the school year in Question and Answer format. Continue reading for some exciting news! 😊

How was summer?

As you may know, the summer between Year 1 and Year 2 MT, consists of two sessions with two courses in each session. This summer for the Intermediate/Senior stream, I had:

  • Anti-discrimination Education
  • Authentic Assessments
  • Issues II in Secondary Schools
  • Integrating Technology into the Classroom

Towards the end of my undergrad, interdisciplinary education started getting a lot of attention from different faculties, however I wasn’t around long enough to get a sense of what that looked like in post-secondary

What’s going through my head currently?

I am getting those back-to-school jitters again, but not the same as last year

What new plans do you have for this year?


I’m eager to get my research paper started and recruiting participants.


I took on an executive role on the Master of Teaching Student Association (MTSA) as the VP of Professional Development. Sometimes I treat this like a full-time job because my team and I have so much planned for this coming year. We are introducing everything from professional headshots to MT clothing to an MT formal.

What hasn’t changed?

Same cohort as before! These people are my rock, I can’t imagine going into my final year without them!


Primary/Junior Perspective: Site-based learning

Jacqueline Chiu and Chase Johnson are MT Candidates who shared with me their first year experience in the P/J stream at Ryerson Community School. Turns out we have lots in common being at two different site-based schools!
1. What is it like being in a site-based cohort?
The Ryerson Community School cohort has a focus on social justice and collaborative activities within the school. Chase is pleasantly surprised how much an impact the social and eco justice theme has played a role in shaping his MT experience. Knowing the landscape of the age group teachers are immersed in, helped tremendously going into the first practicum. For P/J teacher candidates, it has been at least 10 years since they have been in an elementary school environment. The MT candidates feel like a member of the school and has formed connections with teachers and students.
2. In what ways are you integrated into the school? 
Being in the school creates a feeling of wanting to getting involved and getting to know the staff and students in the school. Chase had a practicum placement in the school and Jacqueline is involved in the Environmental Leadership Team. All students at site-based cohorts are required to do a service learning piece, that involves interacting with the school and the community its in.  Students at the Ryerson CS cohort not only observe classes prior to practicum but they also have the chance to teach a mini lesson in a Ryerson CS classroom which takes the nerves out of teaching for the first time at a new school.
3. Do you feel isolated from OISE? How do you meet other people?
Not really. The people in the cohort support each other since everyone takes the same courses together and the time spent on doing group work does not allow for a lot of intermingling with other cohorts. During practicum and social events, there are opportunities to meet other people.
4. What does your cohort do for fun together? 
Potlucks for the cohort and teachers in the school!
5. Challenges people face?
Location. When OISE is so perfectly situated on the Subway Line, site-based cohorts may be tougher to access for students commuting from out of the city.
Jacqueline Chiu

PJ – Ryerson Cohort


Warren Wu: Growth and Role Modelling as Cohort Rep

Continuing with interviews with other MT candidates, I invited cohort rep, Warren Wu, to speak about the Master of Teaching Cohort Rep Council (MTCRC) – another one of the numerous avenues students get involved in the MT and around OISE. Continue reading to hear Warren’s extremely honest and real reflection as a Year 1 Cohort Rep!

Warren Wu
J/I Cohort Rep

Describe your commitment to being a cohort representative?
It has been incredibly rewarding to be a Cohort Rep(resentative) for my beloved cohort! My official responsibilities include: attending MTCRC meetings where the cohort reps from each division and year (i.e., P/J, J/I, and I/S; Year 1 and Year 2) meet up with members of the MT leadership team (e.g. Mary Reid, Arlo Kempf) and the MT Student Association (MTSA) to discuss important and relevant information pertaining to the MT program; advocating for my cohort’s interests during these meetings; relaying said information to my cohort in a timely manner; and looking for answers to any follow-up questions my cohort may have. My unofficial responsibilities are to be a positive role model within and outside of my cohort, to make efforts to ensure that my cohort members are all on the same page, working together cohesively, and to occasionally plan social events to have a life outside of class.
How has the role transformed your MT and/or OISE experience?
In my experience as a Cohort Rep thus far, I have felt empowered as a member of the OISE community. On multiple occasions, I have been able to voice my thoughts to people at OISE who can actually make a difference, and seeing them make note of my suggestions/concerns makes me feel like my ideas are valued. However, what I have found is that often, since everybody there is a Cohort Rep, many of us have further questions and/or topics to discuss, and we do not have the time to address all topics of interest. It is also very interesting to hear Year 2 MT students’ perspectives on particular issues, as they serve as mentor figures during these meetings. Also, the agenda of the meeting would not be posted prior to its occurrence, which could have helped prepare my cohort members and me for the meeting, knowing what in particular we as a cohort want to know.
How do you see your position evolve going into Year 2?
Going into Year 2, I feel that I would like to become more involved in the OISE community. I want to attend more events where my fellow students and I can openly discuss the program’s pros and cons in a safe space with the MT leadership team. I would also like to work more closely with the MTSA, being more informed about what they are doing on their end. I believe that a stronger collaborative relationship between the MTSA and the MT Cohort Reps would be beneficial and would be a step in the right direction. I would also like for MT students to be able to have a networking event from OISE staff who have research that may align with MT students’ areas of interest. For example, it would be great to have MT students with research topics related to French be in touch with the CRÉFO (Franco-Ontarian Centre) of OISE! 
Overall, it has been wonderful to represent my cohort and to be more involved with the OISE community through this opportunity. I also hear that the hours spent during these meetings can be added to our co-curricular records, so that is always a bonus! 
Cheers/À la prochaine, 
Warren Wu 

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!

Insights from a Primary/Junior Teacher Candidate

Chase Johnson, is a second year Primary/Junior MT candidate who enjoys the challenges of being a teacher. Below is his account of his first year in the program!
“Teaching is by far the most frustrating and rewarding job I have ever had. It is also the hardest job I have ever had. It has been a very difficult year in the MT program, with what I can only assume will be another even more difficult one to follow”
1. What is practicum/lesson planning like in P/J?
Practicum was a taste of reality. Like a student at that age it was exciting and exhausting, the best day and the worst day at once. It took tons of time and energy just to be ready for a 30 minute class on area and perimeter, not to mention the other 4 or 5 classes that day. Lesson planning in P/J is like lesson planning for any age group. Anyone who has planned a lesson before will know that understanding your students is the most important aspect when planning or delivering a lesson. Sometimes an example will involve Pokémon or fidget spinners, but the lesson is still planned the same way; trying to deliver the information in the most fun and engaging way. It cemented the fact that I had made the right choice in my career path, especially at the P/J level. Watching the stress, anger and then final relief of a student trying to learn something that seems simple is incredibly rewarding. It was moments like these that made all the stress and planning worthwhile and make me happy to be a teacher of young children at the P/J level.
2. How are you bringing the P/J teaching environment into the MTRP?
My own MTRP was directly influenced in my time in P/J classrooms. I have had the pleasure of watching Inquiry based learning, and specifically Reggio Emilia techniques being utilized for all ages from SK – Gr6. My research is focused on the use of the Reggio Emilia approach within P/J classrooms in Toronto in both the public and private sectors which will hopefully highlight the benefits of child-directed, inquiry based learning.
3. Why did you choose OISE, MT, P/J, and the Ryerson cohort?
My younger cousin attended OISE through the MT program and when she heard that I was interested she recommended the MT program to me. I was interested by the designation of a Master’s program for teaching as I was looking to further my education, and this was the field I was interested in. Her recommendation coupled with OISE’s elite reputation motivated me to apply. As for the P/J level and this cohort, that was an easy choice. I have spent time teaching students of all ages and always felt that I connected with the younger students. I have the energy and the patience to teach young children (and sometimes feel like I have the sense of humor of a six year old). Though it can be exhausting teaching at the P/J level, it is also the most rewarding and I feel I am suited to the task perfectly.
This cohort was the same for me. It directly related to my ideals as a person and as a teacher. It provided an outlet for me to further my goals of Social and Eco-justice in our society. It is especially important for young children to be introduced to these concepts as they are the ones who will eventually shape our society. This has always been important to me and guided my teaching practice. This cohort was therefore an easy choice and I am happy to be a part of such a motivated group of people. I want to thank all my professors, my ATs during practicum and especially my cohort members for being so supportive and helping make P/J 141/241 the best cohort in the program!