Category Archives: Student Life

Borrowing Research Knowledge from Your Personal Librarian

by Viel
MEd, Adult Education & Community Development

“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.”

― Neil Gaiman

There’s an app for that. Just Google it. Did you look on Wikipedia already?

Here are some of the common suggestions when you ask about something—people always tend to lead you towards the internet. These are probably some of things you do on a regular basis and it’s something that I do on the daily. Our reliance on technology doesn’t always allow us to get the right answers though. In fact, if you were to think about when our parents or grandparents were writing their university papers, they probably had to manually look things up in the library system or look something up alphabetically in an encyclopedia. Nowadays, accessing information is quite simple…all you need to do is just Google it.

So, what do you do when your professors ask you for a credible source? What if they ask you about empirical evidence for your theses and not just giving away facts? Where do you need to go to get this help?

Have no fear—Desmond is here! Desmond is part of OISE’s library and not only that, he’s also my personal librarian. Sounds pretty special, right?  But don’t worry, it’s not just for me! This program is available to you too, once you become an OISE student.

Desmond, OISE Librarian

The University of Toronto piloted the Personal Librarian Program (PLP) 6 years ago. All the universities’ colleges have the ability to voluntarily run this program within their libraries, depending on the resources available to them. In fact, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences has made the Personal Librarian Program available to all their first year students.

OISE signed up for the PLP 4 years ago to help support grad students. This program is only available to first year grad students, who may be new to the area of research and writing papers, but you can certainly keep in touch with them afterwards. OISE’s librarians all come from different backgrounds —Desmond’s primary research is in both Social Justice Education and Indigenous Studies. The PLP usually matches you with a specific librarian who can help you in a general field of study. They try to check in with you at certain points in the year, such as the beginning of the year and when it usually starts to get busy with assignments. You can basically book an appointment with them or talk to them via email so that they can help you with your research, citations, creating bibliographies, the Dos and Don’ts of Wikipedia and Google Scholar, as well as knowing how to access the various databases found on our library system.

Believe it or not, UofT belongs to the top 10 largest library systems in North America, while OISE is the largest Education Library! Just think about your access to all these resources—the books, digital media, databases, journals, curricula—it’s boundless! And the best thing is that your Personal Librarian can help you find the resources that are tailored to your research interests!

Still not convinced about the wonders of University of Toronto libraries? Here are some interesting facts about the libraries you may not know about:

  1. UofT has 44 libraries in total and Robarts, our main library, houses about 8, including the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library.
  2. Bored? Maybe rent out a board game or an old PlayStation console and some old-school video games from Media Commons found in the Robarts Library and play it during your free time!
  3. Our library system isn’t just home to books and journals—they offer digital archives, old films, DVDs, and CDs!
  4. The UofT Library is home to the Internet Archive Canada Headquarters—an amazing collection of old websites, videos, which is in itself, like a digital library!
  5. You can borrow anything from all the libraries—except teaching material (only for Master of Teaching Students) and some items from other colleges that might be restricted, but in general, your access is unlimited.

Overall, I think that your time at OISE and at UofT in general is valuable—especially in terms of your research goals and your research interests! Only looking to Google Scholar or Wikipedia, discredits the hard work of our librarians in collecting and researching resources for all the students! I would highly recommend you pop by and say hello once you are at OISE! Getting to know your librarian not only enhances your OISE experience, but it also gives you access to things you may not know about if you didn’t ask. You can also meet the OISE librarians in your classes, when they hold research workshops that your professor organizes!

My advice: Don’t take your library for granted—they are so knowledgeable in what they do and are great resources to help you cultivate those researching skills. So, get to know your librarians and make the library your go-to place for all your research needs!

*Special Thanks* to Desmond from OISE’s library for taking the time out of his busy schedule to enlighten me about UofT’s extensive library system and services, as well as allowing me to learn about the Personal Librarian Program!

Questions? Email me oise.ambassador@utoronto.ca

 

All About Me

 

 

Post by: Viel
Master of Education,
Adult Education & Community Development

 

Hello, my name is Viel (pronounced VL)!

I am in my first year of the Master of Education Program in Adult Education and Community Development (AECD). I am really looking forward to be able to share my experiences at OISE and hearing from you all!

Why did you choose OISE 

In 2014, I graduated from OISE with a Bachelor of Education, back when it was offered as a one year consecutive program. I was in the Junior/Intermediate stream with English as my teachable. During my year at OISE, I had met so many people both within my cohort (kind of like a homeroom) and outside of my cohort. I really felt like I was in a big community that year! That’s why when I first decided to pursue my Master’s degree, OISE was at the top of my list.

The AECD Program at OISE is part of the Department of Leadership, Adult, and Higher Education (LHAE). I chose Adult Education and Community Development in particular, because I had always enjoyed working with adults, particularly newcomers. Throughout my undergrad and my year in the Bachelor of Education program, I have always been keen on community development—collaborating with various community agencies through work or volunteering! It was clear from the beginning that this program was a perfect fit for me!

The University of Toronto is a place where you have so much access to different services, such as the various gym facilities found all across campus, the study spaces, and the library (the 4th largest library system in North America)! The University of Toronto has so much to offer and there are a plethora of resources to take advantage of. It is perfectly-situated in a vibrant and bustling hub of Toronto, surrounded by Queen’s Park, the Bata Shoe Museum, and the Royal Ontario Museum. The best thing about our campus is that most of it is accessible by transit!

What is your academic background? 

I graduated from University of Toronto Mississauga where I studied an English major and French and History minors. As mentioned, I also studied at OISE in the Consecutive Teacher Education Program. I have always felt the need to continue my learning and I am always looking for ways to challenge my way of thinking and to build on my own set of skills and experiences.

What do you like to do outside of school?  

Outside of school, I enjoy playing the ukulele, going to concerts, and spending a lot of time with my friends and my family. I also love to volunteer! I’ve been a volunteer at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Halton for 11 years–I always make sure that I find the time in my schedule to volunteer with them. I am currently a Girls Linking Our World facilitator, encouraging adolescent girls to take on leadership skills and building confidence, all while promoting diverse ways of healthy active living. It is really important for me to find the balance between academics, work, volunteering, friends, family, and “me time”. Finding that balance is all about trial and error! You just need to find ways that work for you. It took me quite some time to adjust my schedule. Having some down time for socialization and other things is all part of being a student, so just make sure you find it!

If you are currently reading a really good book or if you are currently enjoying listening to a particular indie artist/band–let me know in the comments below! I would love to hear from you.

Questions? Email me at oise.ambassador@utoronto.ca and I will do my best to help you!

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. ^_^

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!

Putting Theory into Practice: Getting Volunteer Experience Through a U of T Club

Hi there! 🙂

I hope everybody had a good start to 2017, and feels prepared to tackle the rest of the year.

This blog post is going to be about how one of my courses from my first semester of graduate school here at OISE has inspired me, and what I’ve been doing to gain more practical experience in the field of education.

Last semester, I took a course called Reading in a Second Language with Professor Esther Geva. Professor Geva is particularly passionate about teaching young children to read, because early literacy development can determine a lot. The logic is that young children won’t like to read if they aren’t good at it, and won’t try to improve their reading skills if reading doesn’t come naturally to them. This leads to poorer readers having more difficulty with their schoolwork as the years progress, and feeling increasingly frustrated with their academic progress. Professor Geva’s lectures and the preparation I had to do for the presentation I mentioned HERE convinced me of the importance of early intervention.

Accordingly, I decided to gain more experience working with children and teaching young children to read. I hadn’t been very interested in working with children before, since I had been accepted to the MEd in DPE due to my experience working with young adults my age. I was initially a bit confused about where to even start, but I eventually found a U of T club called Working Around The Clock Helping (WATCH). WATCH helps children and families in Toronto’s Regent Park neighborhood in a variety of ways. More information about the club is located on their website HERE and on their Facebook page HERE.

After some thought, I decided to volunteer for their In-class and After School programs. WATCH’s social media/Facebook person Layla was very helpful in assisting me in figuring out where to get my Vulnerable Sector Screening done, since anybody who wants to work with vulnerable people such as children has to do that (and get a result saying that they have a clean criminal record) before working or volunteering.

I have begun volunteering for the In-class program, and am enjoying the experience so far! 🙂 I am helping out during Thursday morning at a Grade 1/2 classroom, helping students read and spell. I also assist the classroom teacher with general administrative tasks. It’s very interesting for me to see the variation in students’ abilities, especially since this is a split class. Some students are very proficient readers, while others are struggling. I hope that every student manages to learn something at school while enjoying the experience, and will try to assist when I can. I’m only volunteering a few hours every Thursday, but hope my being there is helpful.

I am in the process of being able to volunteer for the After School program. WATCH works with the Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Clubs, helping this organization get volunteers for their After School programs. I attended a Volunteer Orientation with other U of T students interested in after school volunteering this past Friday, January 27th. I’ll be able to start volunteering for this program once the background check that the Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Clubs runs for each potential volunteer goes through. For now, I’m familiarizing myself with this organization’s values, and reading the Volunteer Manual/guide I got during orientation.

I like that the Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Clubs strives to make their programs accessible to every family, and that they strive to involve youth at every age. There’s a Youth Program available for teenagers, and past participants of the Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Clubs programming are encouraged to get involved through work and volunteer opportunities.

I also attended a Volunteer Social for members of WATCH this past Monday, January 23rd. It was nice to meet some U of T undergraduate students, and become a bit more familiar with another building on campus. I had never visited any club offices or rooms at 21 Sussex Avenue before, and it was good to find out where things are located. I spend a lot of time at OISE, but it’s only one part of U of T St. George. It would be a shame if I just went to OISE and never got to know any other part of campus.

Final Thoughts:

I’m glad I’m getting more experience working with a different age group than I am used to, and hope that my involvement in the lives of these children will be beneficial. I can’t help everybody, but I can try to help some people. OISE offers a lot of courses that DPE students can take that will hopefully inspire students to gain more practical experience, like this one course inspired me.

OISE’s Educating for Peace and Justice Conference

Hi everybody,

I hope that anybody reading this post is doing well. On Saturday, January 21st I had the pleasure of working at OISE’s Educating for Peace & Justice conference. I was there to help run the event, & to document it for this blog! ^_^

A picture of the itinerary for the day.

The day began with an Opening Plenary in the OISE auditorium, from 9 to 10:15 AM. OISE’s Dean Glen Jones started off the conference with a welcome & opening remarks. Merlin Charles, who was one of the organizers of the conference, served as MC. I wasn’t present for most of the Opening Plenary since I had to help register participants for the conference, but was fortunate enough to catch about 15 minutes of it. I thought that giving participants name tags to wear upon registration was a good way of promoting dialogue and helping people network with each other.

Imagine my surprise when I saw some of the participants I had helped register up on stage, reading lines from a script. They were participating in a performed ethnography called Hong Kong, Canada. I was initially confused, but quickly caught on to the meaning of the presentation after a few minutes. It was about how immigrant students who use languages other than English at school might experience racism & discrimination. The performance was about a high school setting where English-speaking students felt frustrated that immigrants from Hong Kong were seemingly getting preferential treatment. I think that the topic addressed was a very relevant one in a country as diverse as Canada, and very appropriate to the theme of the conference.

After the Opening Plenary, participants went to the first workshop of their choice from 10:15 to 11:45 AM. Workshop topics included being an ally in the social justice process, anti-bullying, children’s health, creating an inclusive classroom, and various other issues of interest. I didn’t get to attend the first or second round of workshops because I was needed to help run the conference, but I hope that all the participants enjoyed themselves & learned something useful.

There was a lunch break from 11:45 AM to 12:45 PM

Conference Organizers Merlin Charles (bottom left) and Sheldon Grabke (bottom right) having lunch with presenters.

Presenters having lunch together.

More presenters having lunch together.

I think it’s absolutely fantastic that Sheldon & Merlin arranged for so many knowledgeable people to educate future teachers & community members on the same day! Educating about topics such as racism & how to be more inclusive ought to start young, and now so many participants are more informed about how to best support young people.

There was also a Resource Fair going on in the OISE Library from 10:15 AM to 4 PM. I got to meet & take pictures of some of the exhibitors.

Exhibitor Rogue Witterick introducing people to resources in the 519 in Toronto.

An exhibitor educating people about the Indigenous Education Network at OISE.

There was a second round of workshops from 12:45 to 2:15 PM. Topics included things like identity, stress reduction, and how to educate students about sensitive issues effectively. During this time, I was helping registering the last few participants who had come to the conference late, & registering presenters for the third & final session of workshops.

The third round of workshops went from 2:30 to 4 PM. Since I was going to be covering the conference for this blog, I got to attend a workshop called “Sit Still, Look Pretty”: Exploring Notions of Gender-Based Violence in the Classroom, Amongst Students and in the Community facilitated by Meccana Ali & Tamika Royes.

It was exciting for me to finally attend a workshop, and I used the opportunity to increase my knowledge and awareness of the topic presented.

Workshop presenter Meccana Ali talking about the various barriers that women in unhealthy relationships may face when trying to seek support.

I learned about why people leaving unhealthy relationships are in the most danger, that girls as young as 12 years old experience unhealthy relationships dynamics, and that it’s important to frame things in a positive light when trying to convince a vulnerable person to access resources.

Workshop presenter Tamika Royes discussing scenarios with workshop participants.

I think both Meccana & Tamika brought a lot of experience and insight  from working in the community that workshop participants really benefited from. I especially like that they included various scenarios that participants discussed in small groups, to give everybody there some ideas about how to effectively deal with students experiencing sexual harassment & discrimination. They were also very in tune to the fact that some of the material discussed could be triggering for some participants and encouraged us to step out of the room and/or check in with one of them if we felt unsettled.

Final Thoughts:

OISE’s Educating for Peace & Justice Conference is definitely an event that I want to fully attend next school year, as a participant. The organizers & the presenters all did a fantastic job, and I am proud to have played a (relatively minor) role in this event. It can be hard for educators & community members to help students dealing with harassment and discrimination. It can also be difficult to educate students about sensitive and/or controversial topics. Thankfully, OISE and various other organizations run workshops & have resources available to help with these monumental tasks. Together, everybody can help ensure that young people are more informed about how to treat others with respect and handle challenging situations.

Reflecting on My First Graduate-Level Presentation

Anna
by Anna
MEd student, Developmental Psychology and Education

This past Monday, November 28th I did my first presentation in graduate school. It was for my Reading in a Second Language course taught by Professor Esther Geva.

I have to admit that I was a little overwhelmed when preparing for this presentation, but everything turned out all right in the end. I’m good at talking, presenting facts, and sharing my opinion. Upon further reflection, making presentations is actually easier for me than writing papers. Our professor also allowed people to present in pairs or groups; this likely made the presentation much less frightening for some students. I chose to present individually because that’s what I’m comfortable with.

I’m happy to report that my first graduate-level presentation went well! ^_^ There was discussion, everything I said made sense, and my topic tied into what the professor was going to be talking about for that particular class.

I thought it might be helpful to include some strategies I used to ensure things ran smoothly.

Without further ado, I present…

Anna’s Superstar Tips For Effective Presentation Preparation:

  1. Schedule your presentation around the middle of the semester so you can get presentation ideas from the students who presented before you.
  2. Include a clear agenda so that your audience knows what to expect.
  3. If you aren’t that technologically savvy, get a friend or trusted classmate to help you set up your presentation and run it effectively.
  4. Try to relate your presentation content to your own personal experiences, and to what was said in the class previously.
  5. Include enough research to make your point, and try not to overwhelm your audience with statistics.
  6. Involve your audience by including discussion, and asking them to reflect on what they already know about your topic before you begin.

Final Thoughts:

I hope that these tips help prospective students understand the process behind giving a good presentation. It’s not that difficult if you prepare, and it will be over before you know it. Try to relax and make the most of the experience. You never know when presentation skills may come in handy after you’re done your graduate degree at OISE.

Connecting Theory and Practice: My Virtual Life

Anna
by Anna
MEd student, Developmental Psychology and Education

One of the biggest complaints I had heard students make when I was doing my undergraduate degree was that what they were learning didn’t seem relevant or important to real life. In classes that had more practical applications, such as Developmental Psychology, there was still a lot of theory and facts. There wasn’t much opportunity to apply knowledge in a practical context.

Thankfully, that isn’t the case here at OISE. I have plenty of opportunity to apply concepts learned in class to case studies and various other forms of experiential learning.

For this particular blog post, I am going to focus on the My Virtual Life software developed by Pearson Education.

In one of my required courses, Foundations of Human Development and Education, I have a rather unique assignment. I have to grow a virtual child and a virtual adult using the My Virtual Life software developed by Pearson. The completion of the virtual child and adult is worth 10% of my overall grade in the course.

To extend the experience further, I have a Final Paper worth 40% of my grade where I have to pick specific examples from the life of my virtual adult and/or child. These examples are meant to illustrate points in a particular area of development and education that I have decided to examine further.

How My Virtual Life Works

I filled out relevant personal information about myself to create both the virtual adult and virtual child. The process of growing the child and adult to completion is basically answering a bunch of multiple-choice questions about relevant life choices and reflecting on specific parts of life through short answer questions as prompted by the program. The point of My Virtual Life is to understand how certain life choices and parenting tactics affect human development. It’s a nice complement to the theory of the foundation course that every DPE MEd student has to take.

myvirtual-life-screenshot-5

(One of the multiple choice questions I had to answer for my virtual adult.)

Classmates I have spoken to have also said that it’s useful, but some people have also said that it’s fairly easy to make certain decisions virtually and a different matter altogether to make them in real life. These people said more specifically that it was easy to decide to parent a virtual child in a firm and consistent manner, but much harder to do that with an actual child. I see their point, but feel that having a virtual or simulated experience is better than having no practical experience at all.

myvirtuallife-screenshot-1

(A snapshot of one of my virtual child’s milestones.)

myvirtuallife-screenshot-3

(A later milestone of my virtual child.)

Another benefit of the program is that you can follow the syllabus for course themes and readings as you grow your child to gain a better understanding of each developmental stage as it occurs.

My virtual child, Samuel, is fully grown but my adult is taking longer. I think that this is a useful exercise, but that people need to keep up with it throughout the course of the semester in order for it to be beneficial.

Final Thoughts:

I hope that this post helps prospective students understand how courses at OISE strive to make content relevant and meaningful to everyday life. In this day and age, practical application of skills is important, and I’m glad that I’m in a graduate program that encourages this.

Interview With: International Student, Siwen Tang

Anna
by Anna
MEd student, Developmental Psychology and Education

Hi there! ^_^

For this week’s blog post, I’m going to do something different & interview a friend of mine, Siwen Tang, who is also an OISE student.

I met Siwen on Facebook when I commented on one of her posts in a Facebook group we both joined. We ended up talking, and finally met in August of this year before we both started studying at OISE.

Siwen is a first year MEd student in the Language & Literacies Education program in the Curriculum, Teaching, & Learning Department at OISE. Her expected graduation date is Winter 2017.

siwen-interview-picture-1

Without further ado, I now present her opinion about OISE & Toronto as an international student:

A: What drew you to OISE’s program?

S: “Before coming to OISE, I was a full-time English teacher in a large English training institute in Shanghai, China. I taught English to adults who wanted to have a better job. I learned that English is more than just a language of communication between nations and cultures, but it is also a means for people from all walks of life to achieve betterment. Teaching English is one way of giving people a tool to find better jobs, get promotions and pursue dreams abroad.

While I really loved my job, I noticed the deficiency of my teaching, my limited understanding of language and literacy, and my company’s money-oriented education policy. This couldn’t be fixed simply by gaining teaching experience or experimenting. Sometimes my supervisor and I had different views on English teaching and learning. I realized I wanted to learn more advanced theories about language literacy education. I also wanted to see the world.  

I feel this OISE is the best place for me to explore the answers to all my questions and achieve my career goals. The Language and Literacies Education (LLE) program offers me a big selection of courses related to my field. By attending these classes, I will gain a better understanding of teaching, learning and using English as a second language in diverse settings. I can also gain knowledge about language education, policies and planning and teacher education.

I believe that the University of Toronto/OISE’s Language and Literacies Education MEd will provide me with the opportunity to learn in a diverse setting, one which would not be possible in China or even across Asia. Canada also provides an ideal environment for ESL research and experimentation because of its unique status as a mosaic nation of bilingual immigrants.”

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

S: “There are three things I love about the LLE program at OISE.

First is the big course selection. I can choose ten courses from all the courses offered at OISE. While I can focus on courses in language and literacy education, I can also choose classes on leadership, curriculum studies and adult education. This allows us to explore our potential interests. For example, before taking the course Language Art in Elementary School by Professor Clare Kosnik, I was never interested in children’s literacy education. I didn’t know anything about this field. Now, I am so engaged in her class and have learned so much about this topic. Her class has totally changed my view on children literacy education. It is such an eye-opener.

The second thing I love about the LLE program is the flexibility. As I mentioned above, as a full-time student, I am required to take ten courses in order to graduate. The program is one and a half years. I can take classes during Summer session too. This means I will not be extremely burdened by studying. Three courses a semester allows students to have more time to themselves (to work, socialize, or travel). Currently, I just need to go to school three days a week. I have a lot of free time to do what I want to do outside the classroom. Right now I am making Mandarin tutorial videos on Youtube. I am also taking a part-time course at a college nearby. I also have time to explore the city and socialize. The flexibility of the program means graduate students can have a good balance between studying and leisure.

siwen-interview-picture-2

The last thing I love about the LLE program is the warm, welcoming learning environment in every class I am taking now.  It is very different from my personal class experience in China, where teachers are talking while students are expected to be quiet and attentive. Here at OISE, there are always a lot of group discussion and presentations in class.  Students are always engaged in class and encouraged to voice their opinions. Professors act more as facilitators who create this welcoming and open learning environment, where everyone feels included and willing to express his/her own ideas. Everyone’s opinion and contribution is valued. As an international student, I felt nervous and was afraid of making mistakes in the beginning. I did not talk much in class. I remember my hands were all sweaty when I did my first presentation at OISE. However, professors and other colleagues are so patient and kind with me. I feel much more confident and comfortable in giving presentations and participating in other classroom activities now.

Lastly, I love the people here – both the professors and my peers. The professors I’ve met are very intellectual and extremely kind. They are very friendly and patient. They always give me feedback, and are willing to answer or discuss the questions I have. My peers in the LLE program are experienced language educators in Canada or from different cultural backgrounds. I have met teachers from Canada, Saudi Arabia, Britain, China and Korea. This multiculturalism has brought an interesting dynamic and chemistry into the classroom discussions. I have learned a lot by interacting with them. I feel very blessed and lucky to work with them.”

A: What did you learn about yourself at OISE?

S: “At OISE, there are a lot of group projects in each course. By cooperating with colleagues, I learned that I am good at thinking of new ideas, but not so good at pushing myself to get things done. I am kind of a procrastinator. To solve a problem, the first thing to do is to recognize there is one. I will try my best not to be a procrastinator in the future.”

A: What would you say to a future OISE student?

S: “Don’t be shy or feel embarrassed to voice your opinion. Professor and students are here together to share our ideas, solve problems and create something new. At OISE, you can gain more than you expected, both academically and socially.”

siwen-interview-picture-3 siwen-interview-picture-4

Final thoughts:
I think that Siwen is a really interesting & enthusiastic person. ^_^ I also wish her the best of luck in completing her degree at OISE!

I hope that my readers enjoyed this post about the perspective of an international graduate student! OISE offers a unique experience due to the diversity of its students’ backgrounds & personal experiences. This post is just a small peek of that. For more information about OISE programs and student life/services, visit: www.oise.utoronto.ca/orss/.

Getting through the fall term without a reading week

by Susan
Master of Teaching

 

Its halfway into October and only 1 month since school had started and I’m envious of those with a fall reading week. I mentioned that by the end of last month, due dates came around faster than I had anticipated. In reality, I didn’t lose much sleep meeting those deadlines. How did I do it? Well I had to establish a firm sleep/wake schedule, write out all due dates on a monthly and weekly calendar and get MORE involved outside of my courses.

You heard me correctly. I have graduate/research assistant hours, work-study hours, afterschool high school clubs and recreational sports on top of my 19hr school week. How on earth do I find time to complete my assignments? For most people this is definitely a recipe for disaster. I however need to be kept busy until an hour or two before bedtime – daily. That’s just the pace I need in order to be productive and fill up my day with tasks so I don’t fall into the trap of procrastination. The hours that I dedicate for school work will be used up much more efficiently knowing I have meetings, clubs and other things to attend to. Of course I don’t recommend taking on an extra 15hr of extra work just to be more productive. It’s not for everyone!

Some might be wondering, if you are on top of your school work and other commitments why are you still wishing for a reading week? Simply because a break is necessary for university students. The number of cases of students burning out and coping with their physical and mental health is soaring among university students. Personally, my days are long, even though I am getting 8hr of sleep and taking my mind off of school or work related things before bed, I think that as teacher candidates it’s still nice to take a break for periods longer than a holiday weekend. I want to be able to read something other than a curriculum document, reconnect with nature and go somewhere that does not require the TTC.

Sidenote: If extra-curriculars help you stay on track of your studies, the MT program and OISE offers countless opportunities to get involved!

I better get back to finishing another lesson plan…See you in my next blog!