Category Archives: Uncategorized

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!

Master of Arts vs. Master of Education

by Viel
MEd, Adult Education & Community Development

Upon graduation from my Bachelor of Education, I was already looking into pursuing graduate studies. At first, I wasn’t really sure about what the difference was between a Master of Arts degree and a Master of Education degree. I definitely knew that Adult Education and Community Development would be the program of choice, but I didn’t know which stream I wanted to complete.

Based on my own research, I’ve compiled a list of the differences between the two degrees.  Again, this is somewhat of a general overview of what the program-specific requirements are.

  Master of Arts (MA) Master of Education (MEd)
Overall Degree Components ·         Research-based Program

·         Based on coursework and thesis component

·         8 courses and thesis work

·         Professional Program

·         Based on coursework

·         10 courses

Program Length ·         Full-time: 2 years ·         Full-time: 1.5 years
Funding? ·         Yes – they are part of a funded cohort. The funding details will be a part of your admissions package. ·         No – However, there are opportunities to apply to scholarships/bursaries within your department and external awards.
Doctoral Opportunities PhD – If you would like to continue towards a path of research, the MA fits best when you would like to pursue a job in academia or find an opportunity to also enhance your workplace within a certain field. EdD – If you are looking more to enhance your professional opportunities an M.Ed. is definitely the way to go. Again, this blends both professional and research, but leans towards more how you can apply this to your workplace, just as an M.Ed. aims to do.

Though you may want to later pursue a PhD after an MEd, there might be certain requirements you need to undergo.

Why did I choose a Master of Education over a Master of Arts?

In comparing the two, I chose a Master of Education because I felt that it would open up more professions for me as a current educator. I am also not as interested in pursuing any field of research, but interested more with enhancing my knowledge within the field of Adult Education. I think it was a practical solution for me for my own career goals. It really depends on what you want to do and what your interests are. I think there are just as many opportunities with a Master of Education as with a Master of Arts, it really depends on what you want to do in terms of learning and career goals. Again, there are also different options and different pathways, but hopefully, this will give you a general sense of what can be done with an M.Ed.

Questions? Email me at oise.ambassador@utoronto.ca

Course Spotlight: LHA1122 PRACTICUM IN ADULT EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

by Viel
MEd, Adult Education & Community Development

Back when I was studying for my Bachelor of Education here at OISE, one of the main components that was required to successfully graduate was the practicum.

A practicum is exactly what you would think…it is an opportunity for students to essentially “practice” and to implement their skills and knowledge into the workplace. With regards to theory and best practices, there is so much to remember. In class, there were educational theories upon theories, legislation after legislation, and curriculum everywhere. There was so much that we were learning in such a short time frame, but what really galvanized my skills as an educator was the practicum. This was an excellent opportunity to really put theory into practice.

I believe that practicums are an important part of one’s learning, partly because you can utilize what you’ve learned in the classroom and implement them inside someone else’s “classroom”. Another benefit of the practicum piece is the opportunity to network within your space. It allows you to visualize yourself in that work environment and it definitely opens up the possibility of employment at your practicum site. Though you may not get a job there, you can certainly ask the employees about their journey towards that career.

So, with that in mind, I was hoping that I had the same opportunity once I began my MEd in Adult Education and Community Development.

You’ve probably seen Professor Jennifer Sumner’s name in my previous blog post in my reflection about my first semester. She is one of the professors here at OISE, in the department of Adult Education and Community Development. In taking her class, I’ve not only learned about OISE’s role and leadership in Adult Education, but also the importance of sustainability and advocacy for social change in this field.

This semester, I am taking her other class, The Pedagogy of Food, to enhance my knowledge about the food systems in relation to educational, political, sustainable, social and economical systems.

There is a course, however, that I was supposed to take, but I couldn’t because it conflicted with my schedule. Even though I couldn’t participate in that course, I still think it’s one of the many reasons why I decided to choose OISE. One of the factors that made me decide on this program is the opportunity to participate in a practicum. In my opinion, practicums allow someone who is interested in the field of Adult Education to be able to visualize themselves in that particular workplace.

The course is called LHA1122 PRACTICUM IN ADULT EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT. 

If you are interested in this course there are a couple of things that you need to know:

1) The Prerequisite: Permission of the Instructor

When you are choosing your courses, you are able to add this to your course schedule, but ultimately, you would need Professor Sumner’s approval about the course. I would recommend contacting her and telling her about the practicum that you intend to take once you’ve added that course. Then, she will send you a proposal form that you must fill out with the guidance of your practicum supervisor, who will help you to decide what project you would like to undertake. Once you hand it in, it will be submitted to Professor Sumner and all you will be waiting for is whether or not your proposal has been approved.

2) Course Structure: Weekly Seminars

The thing that differs from the practicum is that you are still required to come to class to discuss your learning. On top of your practicum hours, you will need to go to class on a weekly basis. During class, there are a lot of opportunities to talk about your learning and how your practicum project is developing. This is a perfect way to learn about the skills required in the field of adult education and the types of responsibilities an adult educator may have. In retrospect, when I was taking practicum during my B.Ed, I wished that there was an opportunity to reflect on my learning, because I feel that reflecting allowed me to grow as a professional and developed my knowledge about the field of adult education.

3) Types of Projects

The reason as to why I chose this course is the fact that it was so open-ended in terms of the projects that I wanted to undertake. Many of the past students of this course worked on interesting tasks, such as an associated research project, policy documents, and curriculum or programme development. Basically, you are able to work on anything that you may feel will work to enhance your skills as an adult educator. Your field supervisor will then evaluate your tasks on the basis of the proposal that you’ve developed prior to your class and as well as per the guidelines of the professor.

4) Successful Completion of the Course

To be able to complete this Pass/Fail course, you must attend the weekly seminars, spend about 36-50 hours at your practicum site (about 3-4 hours/week), and as well as write an integrative paper to help you reflect on your learning goals and the success of your project.

It’s really important to ensure that you are cognizant of the time frame before you start  this class so that you are not in a rush to find a field supervisor. I would recommend contacting Jennifer beforehand to get a good idea about your practicum project and if you are going in the right direction. I think this is a really good opportunity to help you delve into the world of adult education, because from what I have learned, there are a variety of fields you can work in as a graduate of the Adult Education and Community Development program. If you’re interested in this course, but don’t know what types of projects to do, there here is a list of past initiatives our AECD colleagues decided to undertake.

If you would like to learn more about this opportunity, please check out the website.

 Questions? Email me at oise.ambassador@utoronto.ca

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.

Student Support Service Spotlight: The Indigenous Education Network

by Viel
MEd, Adult Education & Community Development

While I was completing my course about Indigenous Knowledge: Implications in Education, I began looking at ways in which OISE is able to infuse indigenous education into our faculty. There are many support services for indigenous and non-indigenous students who are looking for insight and guidance from the indigenous community in improving educational practices. We are so lucky to be a part of a faculty and a university that strives to ensure that indigenous students are able to find support in a meaningful and authentic ways, while working within faculty members to help bridge relations with non-indigenous students, as well. So, in searching for these OISE-based initiatives, I stumbled upon the Indigenous Education Network (IEN).

The IEN is housed on OISE’s seventh floor. They have their own meeting space and as well as a few services that indigenous and non-indigenous students can access throughout the year. They also plan out events and socials that OISE students can take part. It is a great way to learn about the ways in which indigenous worldviews can be applied into the scope of the teaching practice.

Found on the seventh floor, the Indigenous Education Network provides services not only for indigenous, but also for non-indigenous services in conjunction with the First Nations House. Here are some of the services that they offer to OISE students:

1) Academic Advising: This service, which is in partnership with UofT’s First Nations House, students can speak with an academic counsellor. In terms of what services they offer, they can give you both academic and financial advice, as well as give support and referrals to other services on campus.

2) Networking: This is a great opportunity to meet and mingle with Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, and as well as other community members. These types of meetings will help you to establish relationships and sometimes, there’s even food! It’s a great way to know the various support services for indigenous students and get to meet leaders in the community.

3) OISE Elders: Students, faculty, and other community members are able to meet with an indigenous elder. I was fortunate to meet with Elder Jacqui and speak with her about indigenous culture and how non-indigenous people can become allies within the university and in the greater community. It was such a wonderful experience in speaking with her and I look forward to meeting with her again. If you would like to meet with an Elder at OISE, you can visit them on a walk-in basis or if you would prefer to do so, you can also make an appointment! Her availability is usually on Wednesdays from 1 to 5 pm.

4) Indigenous Graduate Student Collective: This is a group dedicated to Indigenous students. This collective organizes events and provides support throughout the academic journey.

From my previous experience at OISE, we were introduced to the Deepening Knowledge Project, which is an initiative started by Jean-Paul Restoule, a former professor at OISE. In terms of what this project entails, it is basically a toolkit in which teachers can use within their teaching practice. I think that this is an important step to pave the way towards Reconciliation.

This OISE initiative is also part of a larger effort in indigenizing education through research, collaboration with indigenous faculty and community members, and as well as the implementation of Indigenous collaborative programs and courses across the various departments at OISE. In participating in my first Indigenous education course, I have learned so much about resources and services that OISE and UofT offers for both indigenous and non-indigenous students, and as well as indigenous worldviews that I can infuse in my practice.

There are so many ways in which OISE is indigenizing their way into educational practices and methods. If you’re interested in learning more about indigenous education, visit the IEN during your time at OISE!

 Questions? Email me at oise.ambassador@utoronto.ca

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”.

Practicum Highlights

Practicum Highlights

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.

Semester One Overview: Reflection and Learning Outcomes

by Viel
MEd, Adult Education & Community Development

I honestly can’t believe that my first semester of grad school is quickly coming to a close. With my last assignments and presentations in tow, I’ve come to a conclusion: I really don’t want this to end. There have been so many things that I have yet to digest and I am surely going to miss the rhythm of grad life—the plethora of readings, the colorful and lively discussions, the thought-provoking lectures, the unfamiliar new faces that have become my friends, the early morning, coffee-fueled library sessions, and the intellectual discourse of my professors—I’ll miss it all over the winter break! And I know you might think of me as too keen or too intense as a student, but I’ve genuinely enjoyed my time here. I’ve come to learn so much and am constantly in awe that every class I always seem to learn something new. Though I do admit, adjusting to grad school was a bit difficult at first, I feel like I have grown accustomed to it and am now willing to further step out of my comfort zone. It’s been a long, arduous three months of constant growth, learning, and reflecting—I’ve definitely come a long way and I’m looking forward to more in the coming semester. You may have been wondering what classes I’ve been taking all this time and so, here’s a peek of the classes you might be interested in and some of the things that I’ve learned from them.

Courses Learning Outcomes
LHA1100 Introduction to Adult Education

Professor Jennifer Sumner

In this class, we talk about the traditions of adult education and how it can be both applied to the traditional and non-traditional classroom settings. Not only do we discuss adult learning theories and forms of learning, we also look at the historical implications of Canadian Adult Education and how they have been ingrained in social movements. Through readings, class discussions, and review papers—we’ve learned about the heritage of Adult Education in Canada through the Antigonish Movement and Frontier College. In the spirit of Canadian Adult Education, we also discussed ways to move forward with the Indigenous peoples of Canada through the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. Overall, we’ve learned how Adult Education continues to be a dynamic field and continues to work in this social justice and anti-oppression framework.
LHA1102 Community Development: Innovative Models

Professors Sherida Ryan & Jack Quarter

In this class, we challenge and deliberate the romanticized notion of “community”. Through our lively discussions of social networks, social economy, social capital, asset mapping, we look at the ways in which community members and developers can address social inequalities and advocate for the marginalized. We talk about various models of community development that have worked for Toronto, such as co-operatives, social purpose enterprises, and asset-based initiatives. Our professors give us the opportunity to discuss the role of the government and which models of development are effective and ineffective. Through our lectures, we also have had the opportunities to meet community leaders who apply these models in their own community development practices. We’ve had guest speakers from places such as  Community Health Centers, The Furniture Bank, Alterna Credit Union, Acorn, U of T’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work,  and Urbane Cycling Co-Op. Our guest speakers allow us to learn about issues, such as social housing and access to healthcare, from the perspective of these leaders working in this field.
LHA1184 Indigenous Knowledge: Implications for Education

Professor J’net Ayayqwayaksheelth

 

In this class, we talk about how the Indigenous communities can move forward through Truth & Reconciliation. We discuss and learn about the traditional worldviews of the indigenous peoples of Canada. Our professor uses non-traditional teaching practices that elicit the indigenous ways of knowing and how they can be further applied to our own teaching practices. In our discussions, we talk about how we can act as indigenous allies and learn how to critically self-reflect on our own values, perspectives, and beliefs to be able to move forward to create an inclusive and diverse classroom community. We also have the opportunities to meet various Indigenous leaders in the community who continue to apply indigenous worldviews in their work and within institutions. Our professor, who is also an arts educator at the Royal Ontario Museum, talks about how art is an important vehicle in continuing traditions and challenging assumptions faced by indigenous people today.

As you can see, my first semester at OISE was well spent debating, presenting, writing, reading, learning, and most importantly, growing not only as a student, but as an educator. I have definitely come a long way since day one of my studies and I’m sad to leave this semester behind. I have come to familiarize myself with new faces and spaces, to challenge my assumptions and my perspectives, to learn how to listen and respectfully challenge other perspectives, and to step outside of the box. It is in this semester where I found myself continuing the conversations outside of class, looking forward to something new everyday, and applying my newfound knowledge in practical situations. As I end this semester with celebratory treats and dinners with my professors and my peers, I am looking forward to a well-deserved break, but I am also eagerly anticipating the upcoming semester. When I first began school, I was anxious and uneasy about how this first half of my studies was going to unfold—the classes, the professors, the people I would meet—but after completing my first semester, I’ve realized how fortunate I am that I was given this opportunity to continue to learn, to network, to reflect, and to further expand my educational horizons. But don’t worry–my blogging has yet to come to an end and will be continuing until the holiday break! So even though my classes may be coming to an end, my blogging has not!

What are some things YOU are looking forward to in Grad School? Are these some of the classes you’re interested in? I would LOVE to hear from you–comment in the section below!

Questions? Email me at oise.ambassador@utoronto.ca

The Ultimate Presentation Season Survival Guide

by Viel
MEd, Adult Education & Community Development

It’s Presentation Season!

It’s that feeling of “fight or flight” when you first step into the spotlight…your body recognizes that your audience, or rather the judgement that will ensue, is a threat to your overall well-being. That’s why public speaking is regarded as one of the biggest phobias where 75% of individuals suffer from this fear. But don’t worry, there’s hope. I used to be part of that 75%, but I learned how to reluctantly overcome this fear. I found that when I became a Student Ambassador at UofT Mississauga, it really pushed me to come out of my comfort zone, since one of the main responsibilities was to give tours around campus to prospective students and their parents. My presentation skills were further cultivated during my undergrad and especially when I went to teacher’s college at OISE, as there were so many opportunities where I had to push my limits—with every interaction, every presentation, and every group project, and every teaching moment—I was forced to take risks, to refine my speaking skills, and most importantly, I learned how to be OK with making mistakes in front of people.

Once I started grad school, there was more of a group/class discussion and presentation element to all of my classes. My courses have required me to take part in both individual and group presentations, which is something that I had expected before I got here. You need to remember that your presentation skills are just as important in both your academic life and your professional life. The best opportunity for self-reflection and self-assessment for your public speaking skills is through your classes—your professors really look at how you present in front of the class, and not just the content of your slides or your research. So, think about your grad school presentations like a free “Toast Masters” Class! If you really think about it, in the future, you may consider pursuing your doctorate or find a job that requires public speaking, so this is where you really need to have the skill to present, to facilitate discussions, to ask questions, and most importantly, to learn how to persuade your audience. Presenting is a both essential and a dynamic tool for you—so take the opportunity to practice, practice, practice!

To help you “beef” up those presenting skills, I’ve compiled a couple of things that you may want to consider when you start thinking about presentations:

1) Eye contact. Remember when your teacher/your classmates coached you to look at the back wall to completely avoid the anxiety that comes when people are looking at you? Well, believe it or not, this “tactic” is not a good way to connect with people during your presentation. In both formal and informal settings, you need eye contact to make connections and to ensure that people are actually listening to you. One of the best pieces of advice that I got was from professional speakers who said that the best way to solve this eye contact conundrum is to actually just scan the foreheads of people. That way, if you’re a little bit hesitant about looking at people, just look at their foreheads! They said that it gives the illusion that you’re looking at everyone without having to make any eye contact. Obviously eye contact doesn’t hurt once in a while—again, you still need to establish that connection! So maybe you want to balance scanning foreheads and making eye contact, and then, when you’re confidence grows, make eye contact a habit!

2) Keep it short and simple. This point is especially relevant to your PowerPoint slides and even when you are elaborating on a point. You do not want to lose your train of thought and go on a different tangent, something that I struggle with from time to time. So just make sure that you don’t lose your focus and just keep it straight to the point, while making some personal and relevant touches to your speaking points. If you keep trying to find things to talk about for each point, you might lose what you actually want to say.

3) Organization is key. My Adult Education professor first told our class that as an adult educator, you must always have to organize your space. So take the time to organize yourself before your presentation and set out your essential presentation tools. Also make sure that you have your slides organized in a way that shows both the beginning, the middle, and the end. Your organization skills are important, so that your presentation goes smoothly and you’ll be able to look like you are knowledgeable about your topic.

4) Rehearse, but keep it natural. If you do not rehearse or prepare yourself for this presentation, and you just solely rely on the notion of “winging it”…be prepared to discover that this may not be the best idea. We’ve all been there before—where you struggle to get your point across, because you may have missed one of your points. Practicing for presentations is a key tool to avoid making mistakes, but you also want to make sure that you don’t want to appear to be too rehearsed to the point where you look unnatural and sound almost robotic. Again, connecting with your audience really gets people to engage with your presentation! This will also help in situations where technology fails you and you cannot show your slides—you’ll be able to handle those technical errors like a pro!

5) Pace yourself. You may have good points, but they might become lost in the blur that is your presentation. Sometimes, you find yourself speaking too fast to the point where no one can understand you. Always take a deep breath before you speak and in between those transitions. This will even help you to avoid those “uhs” and “ums” that fill those moments of silence! Make this your mantra of presentations: Breathe in confidence, breathe out knowledge!

6) Use humor. Obviously, you would like to keep things professional, but it doesn’t hurt to add a little bit of humor into your presentation—again, engaging and connecting to your audience is the goal! You also want to make your audience feel that you’re comfortable with them and that you’re confident and knowledgeable about your topic. Laughing a little won’t hurt, it’s something some of the greatest public speakers use to ease that tension between them and the audience!

7) Take advantage of the cloud. Backup is super important when it comes to presentations, whether it’s a PowerPoint, a Prezi, or a video—making sure that you have a backup space to put them on will allow you to avoid those technical blunders. Print out your slides, bring a USB, and always create a Plan B when you are presenting, this will enable to get that presentation done and over with, without having to cause any delays! Again, if you practice and know your slides, you don’t even have to look at your notes or your slides–making you look even better!

8) Be heard. You also need to learn how to speak loud and clear. You want to make sure that your speech is natural and not robotic too! If you’re a soft-spoken person like me, sometimes I find it hard to speak up—but again with practice, you’ll be able to overcome that shy voice! I always remind myself to find that “teacher voice” within.

9) Assess Yourself. A great way to get better at presentations is to self-reflect, which will help to assess how you present and what you can to do better for future presentations. Don’t be too critical of yourself, but just be open-minded about giving yourself that room for improvement. A good way to assess yourself is to record a video of you presenting—it’s probably the weirdest feeling to watch yourself actually presenting, but it also helps you to see if you’re lacking eye contact or emotion in your voice, and maybe you speak too much with your hands! You really need to see what will make a good speaker and see how you can apply that with your own presentation skills.

10) Participate. One of my professors during my undergrad always told me that sitting at the front of the class will help you to not become conscious of what people think about you when you are participating in class. Participating in class will definitely alleviate those feelings of anxiety when you present—you’ll also become comfortable with your future audience and it’ll just keep pushing you out of your comfort zone. So go ahead and participate!

Remember, presentations aren’t easy. It may come naturally to people, but for the majority of us, it takes a great deal of practice. Don’t be afraid to take risks and make those mistakes, because it’s the only way you can learn and enhance your skills. One more thing, before you start your presentation—never forget to introduce yourself! After following these recommendations on enhancing your presentation skills, people will probably want to know who you are! So don’t forget to take time to tell your audience your name!

Do you have any tips on surviving presentations? Comment below!

Questions? Email me oise.ambassador@utoronto.ca

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