Author Archives: Susan

Reflections on my first year in MT

by Susan
Master of Teaching


I will be going down memory lane to summarize my year in the MT program. This year has been a fun roller-coaster ride.

  1. What was first year like overall?

Time went by so quickly. I still remember the Cohort Meet-and-Greet in June before classes began, the September welcome week, and unwrapping the famous pod chairs OISE classrooms are known for. Through all the classes, assignments, extra-curriculars, the people in your cohort  and the OISE faculty and staff become your ultimate support system.

2. What was tougher? Courses or Practicum?

Both courses and practica came with a different set of responsibilities and they were challenging in their own ways. For example my courses required lots of time management over long periods to coordinate group work with other cohort members. Most people commute or have work and family commitments so becoming familiar with everyone’s schedule that actually ended up saving time when major assignments were due. As for practicum, there is a lot of learning to do in such a short span of time. You transition from sitting and listening in class to all of a sudden the teacher for a month. Learning to switch gears and walking into the classroom as if it was my own was the toughest.

3. Do you like the courses you are taking?

To be honest, I was a bit skeptical about the courses because its been pre-selected to meet the teacher certification requirements. My expectation originally was that the courses were like a rule book you needed to memorize in order to be a teaching professional. As the semester progresses, you see how all the courses compliment each other like certain wines with cheese…my point is I saw the relevancy in these courses over time. The courses promote working with each other, a practise that is not utilized enough in schools to help teacher plan lessons and get input from other disciplines. Teaching is a soft skill and what teachers do is teach soft and hard skills. There is no other program out there that teaches you how to teach.

4. Has the program changed your mind about teaching?

Not at all. My practicum placements has allowed me to work with grades I had previously thought would not be a good fit for me. I am in I/S that means grades 7 to 12, but typically that means high school grades 9 to 12. I experienced working with grade 7 and 8 students and now I am open to all ages, elementary and post-secondary teaching. Teaching is an aspect of a job that I find motivating!

If you would like to see the perspective of a Primary/Junior MT, please see the previous ambassador Caitlin’s blog. Please check out her “FAEQ: Frequently Asked Email Questions for the MT Program” post and other posts regarding Primary/Junior divisions of the program.

What to expect the summer between year 1 and year 2 of MT

by Susan
Master of Teaching


Many of you are probably wondering “how can I keep up with work, social life, extra-curriculars…” while the MT program runs during the summer as well. Well I am here to tell you that there will be plenty of time to soak up the sun!

Here is an approximate schedule of year 1 sessions in the MT program:

Fall term (Year 1): Mid-September to Mid-December (Mon-Thru)

Winter term (Year 1): Early January to Mid-April (Mon-Thru)

Spring “Intersession” term: Mid-May to June (Tues, Thur)

Summer term: July to Mid-August (Tues, Thur)

As you can see there will be opportunities to balance work, travel and a social life during this time. Not to mention, classes during the spring and summer run two days a week. Just like during the regular academic year, you will be taking courses with everyone in your cohort. You will be automatically enrolled in these spring/summer courses which can be any of the mandatory degree requirement courses. There are courses such as Research, electives, and practicum that will not be taken over the spring and summer.

My plans this spring/summer?

I will be taking a two-week leadership program at another university before the spring intercession, produce and direct a music video for the MT program, working as a leadership instructor for engineering camps and preparing for an executive role in the Master of Teaching Student Association! I gotta say, I can’t wait!

First Welcome to new MT’s at the March Meet and Greet

by Susan
Master of Teaching


Hi everyone!

This post is a quick check-in about my thoughts on the MT Meet and Greet in March 2017. This event was hosted by the MT program – Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning and the Office of the Registrar and Student Services. It was a night for prospective students who have been given offers (final and conditional) to get to know more about the programs. This session focused on the cohort-model at OISE, unique off-site learning opportunities, practicum and course details.

I took part in meeting and talking to prospective students in the Intermediate/Senior breakout session and the library information session. Let me just say, the level of enthusiasm and energy in the room felt like the warm feeling of family that my cohort has brought me!  (OISE never fails to select a great bunch of teacher candidates haha).

Finally, my highlight of the night in addition to all the eager questions I received, was hearing that students were reading my blogs and found them helpful and reassuring. I am so happy if my own experience helped or will help you decide whether OISE is the right place for you 🙂

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!

What is a Service Learning Project (SLP)?

by Susan
Master of Teaching


Remember the 40 hours of community service you had to complete in high school?  Volunteering at soup kitchens, retirement homes, clinics, and youth organizations?  The service learning project is much more than that. You may have completely your high school hours but you did not log the experiences you gained through self-reflection and what it means to you as a student to serve your community. The SLP is an opportunity for teacher candidates to making meaning out of teaching roles outside of the classroom and contribute to the development of “socially responsible global citizens” and 21st century competent students.

Now, I had some trouble grasping what it meant to support students to become “global citizens”. I was wondering, “is my role to integrate concepts of global citizenship (whatever that meant to me at the time) into the student club I would be involved in and hope the students take with them outside of the club?” or “is my role to be an example of a global citizen and teach students the qualities I have that makes me a global citizen?”.  Sitting down with my issues professor, I figured out that I needed to determine my definition of a “socially responsible, global citizen”. That led to documents attempting to define competency…

“Defining 21st Century Competencies for Ontario”

“Global competency for an inclusive world”

The documents actually helped me understand my role better and how to engage my students. I noticed some parallels between the abilities and competences outlined in the documents similar to a paper I read on the evolving meaning of the term “science literacy” for my MTRP by George DeBoer at the turn of the century titled “Scientific literacy: Another look at its historical and contemporary meanings and its relationship to science education reform”. They all call for students to be able to take what they learn in the classroom and be able to use it in or make contributions to society.

I have selected the Brain Bee club and Dissection Club at UTS as my SLP. These clubs are interesting in that it challenges me as a teacher to be able to work with younger grades that my practicum and teachables class seldom offer. The intermediate/senior stream allow teachers to teach grades 7 to 12, however practicums and teachable classes mostly cover high school grades 9-12. I really wanted the opportunity to teach a diverse age group because that would challenge the way I foster critical thinking, ethical thinking and teambuilding skills for different developmental stages. Brain Bee is a neuroscience club that offers local, national and international competitions. I foresee the challenge of preparing two different groups of students- a competitive group to go to competitions and a group of non-competition students to enrich their interest and understanding of neuroscience for school with grades from 6-12. The dissection club is a pure interest and hands-on club for students only in grade 7 to 9. It would be an opportunity taking into account cultural perceptions, biases, and other ethical dilemmas while handling specimens.

*Disclaimer: SLP a component only required by the Issues course as part of site-based cohorts. This means not everyone in the MT program has to complete the 20 hours of service learning. As of right now, there is only one Intermediate/Senior and one Primary/Junior site-based cohort in which the students can “give back” to the school through the SLP.

Teaching Democracy – Demystifying the Electoral Process

by Susan
Master of Teaching


Let me begin by saying, this was one of the most informative and eye-opening workshops I have ever attended. The reason I am making such a big claim is that teaching democracy isn’t an issue teachers and teacher candidates frequently talk about. While students are taught specific subject content in preparation for graduation and post-secondary education, how future Canadians can contribute to the governance of their country has been pushed to the sidelines.

The workshop was structured as roundtables with guest speakers rotating among the discussants. Here’s a recap of the November 29th workshop.

So why teach democracy?

The electoral process is typically taught in the Civics course in gr 10 and keynote June Creelman (Elections Canada) urges for educating young future voters to overcome the challenge that many people (particularly young people) don’t vote. And as teachers, educators have the ability to impact future voters.

Keynote Ali Nason, who teaches history and civics focuses on student contribution to their communities. Her mantra is to start with something closer to home and create the world they want to live in through civic action. Consider multiple perspectives by describing their innate political stance.

A third keynote given by middle school Maria Vamvalis reminds teachers the number of years they spend with students in their formative years, have the ability to nurture the future society their students create. To move away from the “banking model of education” teachers must increase critical thinking.

My impression

Wow this session was informative and new to me. I never took Civics in high school and I find the electoral process complicated to the point I get headaches. I often hear kids expressing their opinions on the US elections more so than CAN elections. Just this past practicum, I walked into my office the morning after Trump’s win and I could hear the conversations in the hallway and arguments coming from classrooms. If only we got that kind of reaction for Canadian elections…

Teachers are not and do not have the ability to be the only source of knowledge…as I have learned from my practicum and a review of literature. However, teachers should be able to pose questions that have ongoing answers to scaffold learning.

Have questions about the MT program? Feel free to leave a comment!

Thinking back: Teaching High School and University

by Susan
Master of Teaching


As university graduates, many of us have been out of high school for at least 4 years. One big question I constantly ask myself is “What level of students do I want to teach?”. High school teaching offers a more personal learning environment while university teaching brings research into the classroom. Below is my account of some of the differences between high school and university based on my experience as a student teacher in a high school and as a teaching assistant in university.

High school class of 30 students

Time: 75min

Attention span: intervals of 15 – 75 min

Number of Hands-raised (questions/participation): ~2-5 times per student (nearly all students participating)

Troubleshooting behavioural issues: lots

Coaching and repeated instruction/direction: LOTS

University lab/tutorial of 30 students (first and second year undergrad)

Time: 60 – 120 min

Attention span: ~2x that of high school students

Number of Hands-raised (questions/participation): ~2 – 5 times per student (less than 50% of students participating)

Troubleshooting behavioural issues: little to none

Coaching and repeated instruction/direction: a few…lots only when it’s needed

Educating for Peace and Justice Conference: Part 3

Here is Uthish wrapping up part 3 of the Educating for Peace and Justice Conference student reflections.

“At the Educating for Peace and Justice Conference (EPJ) at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), I attended the “A Literacy Approach to Anti-Bullying” workshop. The presenter, Larry Swartz, explained how to generate awareness about bullying in the classroom and presented strategies to help educators have a greater understanding about bullying. Although I am in the Intermediate/ Senior stream, the resources provided, which included young-adults, drama-based guides, and poems can be used throughout all learning levels. One of the activities Swartz used in the workshop, to have participants understand the complexities of bullying, was having the participants use abstract drawing. The abstract exercise required the workshop attendees to draw a circle, square, and triangle on a sheet of paper and offer the role of the bully, bullied, and by-stander to one of the shapes. The activity allowed us to reflect on the relational power dynamics in bullying scenarios. As the role-relationships changed, we took factors of readiness, home-related issues, and methods of outreach. The EPJ allowed my colleagues and I to interact with working methods to reduce bullying in schools, which influenced and will continue to influence our own practices as we take on the role of the educator.” -Uthish


Uthish Ganesh

MT I/S English and History


Educating for Peace and Justice Conference: Part 2

Here is part 2 of 3 with Michelle DeFilippis.

“On January 21st, I had the opportunity to attend three very informative and wonderfully executed workshops as part of the Educating for Peace and Justice Conference at OISE. Choosing from the list of workshops was nearly impossible; each and every one had an intriguing title and I found myself trying to cover as many areas as possible in my choices. One of the workshops I attended was called Developing Strategies to Optimize Learning: Connecting with the Stillness Within. I chose it because it sounded like this workshop would focus on encouraging mindfulness in each individual student as opposed to the class as a whole, which I found interesting. The two presenters, Ella Karia and Julia Arbuckle, used their unique personal and professional experiences as educators to share relevant research, personal anecdotes, the teaching and practice of a breathing technique called The Victory Breath, and an outline of the resources and workshops for teachers and schools, for instance the Youth Empowerment Seminar (YES!). Their focus was on how to bring about more self-awareness in our students; they described the idea that most children and adolescents don’t actually know how they get angry or why, but that as educators we have the tools to help them in this process. The takeaway message was that the parents and grandparents of our students, may not have had the resources available to cope with their own stress and anxiety, but today’s educators have an opportunity to create a new model for kids to follow when they feel stressed.” – Michelle


Michelle DeFilippis

MT I/S General Science and Math

To catch on part 1 click here. To continue to part 3 click here.

Educating for Peace and Justice Conference: Part 1

This year, OISE brought back a sought after conference called Educating for Peace and Justice Conference. To show you a glimpse of the workshops that were offered, I asked some fellow MT candidates to give you their take on the conference. Here is part 1 of 3 with Abbey Ramdeo, enjoy!

“Hey friends! On January 21st, I had the pleasure of attending an EPJ Conference that hosted workshops with themes ranging from Social Justice to Mindfulness. With the quickly approaching deadline for the first draft of the Master of Teaching Research Paper in mind, I chose each of my workshops in order to expand my understanding on Global Citizenship Education (which is related to my own research on antiracist education). These workshops were chosen based on the title and not description– I am a firm believer that my first instinct is the best choice – so I had a limited idea of what to expect. But, I knew what I wanted to learn. Specifically, I wanted to learn strategies that would foster students with skills and competencies to be socially responsible, global citizens. This expectation is exactly what the first workshop (“Creating a World-Changing Classroom”, with Maria Vamvalis) I attended was able to satisfy. Maria provided strategies for grade 7 and 8 Geography, but I found that I could apply these in my own science classes (and even other disciplines, such as English). One strategy that surprised me and stuck with me is how to formulate questions in ways that would engage students in “critical, creative, and collaborative” thinking. As future teachers, it is our role to nurture these skills, and I discovered how something as simple as asking a question could support that.” -Abbey

Abbey Ramdeo

MT I/S Biology and Social Science

To read part 2 click here or to jump ahead to part 3 click here.