Updated: Jan 12, 2019
Being a first year MA CSE student who is about to enter both a teacher’s education program as well as a graduate level program, I had many questions in the months leading up to September. My program itself, Master of Arts in Child Study and Education, was also atypical and a bit hard to picture. Now that I am more than a month into the school year, I have finally found the answers to some of my queries:
1. WHAT IS AN APPROPRIATE OUTFIT FOR PRACTICUM?
After four years of either dressing like a slob to go to classes in undergrad, dressing in ‘business casual’ attire for my office jobs, or dressing in ‘comfortable and safe’ clothing while working at summer camps, I was at a loss for how to dress in a classroom. How formal do I dress to impress? How informal do I go to get closer to the students?
The simple answer is that it will vary. How you dress will be dependent upon the location (or neighbourhood) of your school as well as your Associate Teacher’s preferences. The one key requirement across the board is that teacher candidates (like me!) should dress in comfortable, closed toed shoes.
On your first day of placement, it is generally recommended that teacher candidates wear dress pants and put on a more formal top (like a blouse). As such, this is also an important question ask your AT, so that you will know how to tailor your attire. It is also not a bad idea to use your AT's clothing choices as a guide!
Pro tip: As someone who did not have any dress pants except for the one sole pair set apart for job interviews, I found some great options at Gap with reasonable prices! Also, the dress pants at Zara’s BASIC line will also sometimes go on sale for just $20.
2. CAN I DO A PLACEMENT IN FRENCH?
gYes, you definitely can! There are a few more steps to take to make sure your level of French proficiency is high enough, but after that, you can start your placement. More information on the logistics of these French tests will follow in an upcoming blog.
3. SO… WHERE IS THIS PROGRAM ACTUALLY LOCATED?
One of the coolest parts about the MA CSE program is that our main building is not the OISE building; rather, we are a 5 minute walk from the Spadina station, in the Dr. Erick Jackman Institute of Childhood Study (45 Walmer Road). Most of our classes are held in an old mansion, also known as the Leighton G. McCarthy House. An extensive renovation was completed in early 2018, so all the students now have the privilege of attending classes in brand new classrooms while This building is also attached to an independent school where students have the opportunity to have one of their placements in-house!
4. WHAT’S THE LAB SCHOOL?
The Laboratory school (also known as the JICS) is the independent school that is also located at 45 Walmer Road. While the third floor of the building contains classrooms for the MA CSE students, the first and second floors consist of an elementary school. The school has an inquiry-based approach to teaching and every year, many external visitors come to observe the school’s practice. What’s neat about this arrangement is that the professors of MA CSE and the lab school teachers work closely together, sometimes even inviting these teachers into our classes to share their insight and experience.
5. WHEN DOES MY SEMESTER START/END? (AKA, WHEN CAN I BOOK MY VACATIONS?)
This was a very important question for me, as I almost did not accept my admissions offer due to potential scheduling conflicts. Because I am someone who plans way ahead, I already planned my next two summers’ schedules by January 2018, and was scared that this program’s course requirements would conflict with that.
Unfortunately, as each year’s schedule varies, I cannot give exact dates for each term.
However, MA CSE students do get a solid 3-4 weeks in December without any classes or practicum placements. Every April, there is a 2-week gap between the end of the winter semester, and the start of the spring semester. Now, something to keep in mind is the fact that ALL MA CSE students are required to take one mandatory course in the Spring semester of their first year, and this course runs from the beginning of May to mid-June.
There is also a second elective course that must be taken, either in the Spring semester (May-mid June), or the Summer semester (June-July).
So, if students would like, they can take these two courses in the Spring semester and have approximately 2.5 months off in the summer as well!