*This post was written by Caitlin Cheung, a MT student in the Primary/Junior stream. Please note that the content from this post refers to the 2014/15 MT program and certain policies and requirements may have changed.
I decided to compile questions I get asked frequently and share my answers with everyone.
Read on if you want to know my answers to these questions:
1. Is there anything that you know now that you wish you had known earlier? 2. When you are attending classes, what does a typical week look like for you? 3. How relevant is the coursework to your future career? Would you be able to describe some of the assignments you have to do? 4. How supportive are the student services at OISE? Particularly the career services, are they useful/helpful? 5. How is the student experience at OISE? Are there a lot of student groups to join/things to get involved in? 6. Do you think one could balance a regular part-time job (~20 a week) with courseload/demands of the MT program? 7. Did you have a lot of choice over your practicum placements? 8. What are my chances of getting a job after I complete the program? 9. Why should I pursue the MT program versus the B’Ed and/or M’Ed?
1. Is there anything that you know now that you wish you had known earlier?
I didn’t find the transition from undergrad to this program difficult only because I did my undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Studies. Most of the courses I took in undergrad helped set the foundation for the courses I am taking now. So if you didn’t take any child development or psychology classes, I suggest you to prepare yourself for that. Start looking up theorists like: Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky and curriculum approaches like: Project Approach, Reggio Emilia.
2. When you are attending classes, what does a typical week look like for you? How about practicum?
I have 4 days of classes. I have Fridays off! On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday I have class from 9-12 and 1-4. I sometimes have class on Wednesday but its usually just one 3-hour class. I am also taking a religion course so I can teach in catholic schools. So, on alternate Thursdays, I have that class from 5-8. Most weeks are not bad, I’m in class 3 or 4 days a week. For practicum, you are expected to be there every school day for 4 weeks. You are expected to make up days you miss. It is recommended for TC’s to attend the professional development workshops held on P.A Days. They are a great way of getting to know and interacting with other teachers.
3. How relevant is the coursework to your future career? Would you be able to describe some of the assignments you have to do?
All of the coursework I do is imperative for my future career. Most of the assignments/ strategies used in the classes can be used in the actual classroom. A lot of the readings are discussed in class, through reading facilitation or class discussions. Most of the classes have a lesson plan/ unit plan element to it so we can practice using the templates and get in the rhythm of making lesson plans for the class. There are tons of reflection assignments because we need to always be thinking of what approaches or strategies work best, or why we think the way we do.
4. How supportive are the student services at OISE? Particularly the career services, are they useful/helpful?
There are great student services at OISE. There are tons of conferences and workshops happening during the semester. And for every one you sign up for, it gets recorded for your transcripts so your employers can see the conferences or workshops you have attended. Visit the website for the student services, and student success centre. Additionally, there is a professional preparation conference held right before the winter holidays.
5. How is the student experience at OISE? Are there a lot of student groups to join/things to get involved in?
The student experience is great! When you start school, you are placed in a cohort which means the people in your class are the same people in every one of your class. I find that I like this best, as you get to know your classmates really well, real fast. I am the class rep for my cohort for the Masters of Teaching Student Association (MTSA). The MTSA hosts educational and social events throughout the year. As well, there are tons of workshops and conferences you can attend as I mentioned above.
6. Do you think one could balance a regular part-time job (~20 a week) with course load/demands of the MT program?
I don’t think it would be wise to do that as your main focus should be school. I only say this because once you are in practicum, you are in the classroom teaching everyday for 4 weeks. Once you get home, you will be tired and/or program planning for the next day. Your weekends may be the only time you could work, but then again you need some time to rest/program plan/ have some free time. Unless your boss that is flexible and recognizes the value of school and allows you to take those 4 weeks off, then OK! Then it should be okay for you to balance your job, practicum and school work.
7. Did you have a lot of choice over your practicum placements?
You rank your top 3 choices of school boards and you also indicate what major intersection is closest to your house. So for me, I chose 1. York Catholic 2. York Region and 3. TCDSB because these are the closest to my house. Of course the practicum team does their best to provide you with a school that is close to your house but it is not guaranteed that you will get a placement right around the corner.
8. What are my chances of getting a job after I complete the program?
I have been reassured by many professors and alumni that there are jobs afterwards if you really set yourself apart from the other competition. Having your masters will give you an edge against most people coming from the Bachelor’s program. I know that your chances are even better if you are planning to teach abroad.
9. Why should I pursue the MT program versus the B’Ed and/or M’Ed?
From my own personal experience, I pursued a MT rather than a B’Ed because all Faculty of Educations were extending their programs the following year (this year). I reasoned that in theory, if I were to pursue a B’ed in the upcoming years, I might as well do a Masters in the same amount of time. I have spoken to friends in various Faculty of Educations, and they all conclude they are not being challenged. Everyday, I am challenged and asked to inquire in various ways. I think the research component of the MT program allows the students to think critically and reflectively in the classroom and in the research field. I know that for some positions, you will be moved up the pay scale because you have a Master’s degree. I am not 100% on which jobs/positions they may be, but I know for the international realm, that most institutions pay teachers more if they have a masters degree. Breaking into the workforce comes down to networking and communications. You need to make your name known to principals and teachers in the schools you are placed in. They are ultimately the ones who decide who gets hired onto the supply list, and they will favour your name if there are openings. If you have any questions, please keep checking back to the MT site.
10. How does a Master of Teaching program differ from two-year Bachelor of Education programs?
-As part of a graduate program, you will be exposed to educational research across a wide variety of educational disciplines.
-Our instructors have strong academic, as well as professional, qualifications. Virtually all of our instructors have Ph.D or Ed.D degrees in education.
-You will receive a Master’s Degree upon completion of program and you can qualify for doctoral studies.
-We build our program around a cohort model, to provide you with a more collegial and collaborative learning experience.
-We have a strong student association, a caring and dedicated administrative team, and an open door policy among faculty.
-As a graduate student, you will be eligible for graduate awards (Ontario Graduate Scholarship, SSHRC grants, and others)
-Each student in the elementary and secondary programs will choose an “area” of specialization (e.g., aboriginal education, social justice, teaching and the arts, etc.) where you will take additional courses and develop even deeper expertise.
-Be part of a professional community while you study to be a teacher and obtain a master’s level degree