Updated: Jan 12, 2019
It’s crazy, but in less than a week, I’ll be ending my first practicum placement! I can definitely say that since entering my program, certain things popped up and surprised me along the way…
1. LET’S TALK, TALK, TALK, AND TALK SOME MORE
After my first week when my friends asked me how I was doing, my number one response to them was that I did not expect a graduate program to have this much talking. I was slightly overwhelmed by the amount of inward thinking and sharing that happened in my classes, and it definitely took a while before I felt comfortable with the pace of my program. You see, the vast majority of my courses are structured in such a way that a discussion, either in groups or as an entire class, takes up 40-90% of the 3 hour class time.
Picture sitting in class and discussing your personal educational experiences, and sharing on your practicum placements or other pedagogical philosophies. For some, this may be greatly welcomed. And don’t get me wrong, we definitely have very deep and thoughtful discussions each time in class, it’s just that I am not, by nature, a talkative person, and so the need to reflect and share everyday for such a long period of time was draining for me.
2. WHY AM I SO TIRED?
Now, out of all the different topics on this list, this is by far and large the biggest shocker for me. I also have to admit, EVERYONE talked about this a lot during open house and at orientation, but I also refused to believe that I could get tired out or exhausted while completing this program (crazy, I know). You see, I have always been an overachiever and I thought that I could somehow be an exception. Boy was I wrong.
What I did not expect from my program, is how socially and mentally draining it will be. From Mondays-Thursdays, I am in a practicum placement in the mornings, meaning that I am interacting with 20-some children. In the afternoons, I am in class discussions with another 30-some classmates. Essentially, what I am doing day in and day out, is talking and sharing my thoughts and ideas non-stop. I am absorbing information constantly, while also out-putting lessons, thoughts, and reflections. After 2 months of school, I have come to accept that my brain will get overloaded at the end of each day, and have come to terms with the fact that I will need a nap. Everyday. And that is completely okay.
3. WOAH. THIS COMMUNITY IS REAL.
So for this point, a little bit of context is needed. You see, my undergrad experience was already based in a VERY small campus, with class sizes of approximately 20 students. (No joke, my biggest class had only 60 students in total) I never had a TA, and when I graduated, my convocation only had about 100 students—partly due to the crazy York University strike. However, the community that surrounds OISE and my program is no joke.
You see, because my entire program only has 70 students per year, and we are still separated into cohorts. I have a core group of students (and friends) with whom I can experience everything together. The support staff (professors, MA-CSE admins, the practicum coordinators) are so accessible and personal, you genuinely feel part of a close-knit community. I have profs who email us every once in a while, just to wish us a great day and to encourage us on. The emails, social media posts, and even the time spent in class together makes it very easy for you to be plugged in, and you are sure to never miss information about socials and events! Even if you are a commuter, you definitely will not feel alone—I promise!