James Ty, (MA CSE 2022)

May 8, 2023
Meet Mr. Ty
MA CSE Alumni, James Ty

Meet Mr. Ty (he/him), who graduated from the MA CSE program during Spring of 2022 and is currently in his first year of being a teacher as a LTO (Long Term Occasional) at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). Mr. Ty teaches a Grade 1/2 split and teaches french language, mathematics, science, social studies, and visual arts. We get to know Mr. Ty a bit better below!

What made you want to pick "teaching" as a profession?
I have had teaching on my mind ever since the end of high school! I have always loved working with children, especially as a summer camp counselor where I found I had a calm demeanor that worked well with kids. During my undergraduate degree I completed the Education and Society minor at Victoria College (UofT) which further fuelled my passion for teaching. I was able to complete various volunteer placements as well as an international internship in Beijing which showed me how rewarding teaching could be. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of being in an elementary school as well as the joy and curiosity that children brought to the classroom. After my undergrad, I completed the CSE program during the pandemic, and learned more about what authentic, meaningful learning could look like.

What led you to choose the CSE program in specific?
I knew I wanted to stay in Toronto for my teaching degree and was heavily debating between the MA-CSE and MT programs at OISE. Ultimately, I chose the MA-CSE program due to the smaller size of the program, the opportunity to work at the JICS Laboratory school, and the inquiry-based teaching lens that the program was known for. Even though I completed the program during the pandemic, I was still able to benefit from three meaningful in-person teaching placements where I grew a lot as a teacher. One of my favourite placements was at the Lab School where I worked with Zoe Donoahue in a grade 5 class. This is where I truly saw the child centered and inquiry-based approach in action. 

What is one (or more) of the most impactful experiences you have had with your student(s)?
I have had many special moments with my students and enjoy seeing them grow as learners every day. It has been amazing to see the progress students have made throughout the school year, especially those who were reluctant French speakers and readers to begin with. I have seen my shyest students who were only recognizing letter sounds in September become confident young readers who now volunteer to read in front of the class. It is a joy to also see more students speaking French throughout the year.

One impactful experience that I shared with my students was when we heard of the unfortunate news of the Türkiye and Syria earthquakes earlier this year. I have two students who have family that were directly impacted by the earthquakes, and one parent reached out to me about what our school might be able to do to help. As a class, we had a meaningful discussion about what had happened and I was so moved by how much my students showed empathy and wanted to help those in need. We decided to start our own campaign to raise awareness about the crisis in Türkiye and Syria by advertising the Red Cross fundraiser that was already set up with the TDSB. My students created engaging posters that went up all over the school and read out announcements every morning to the 900+ students and staff in the building. The campaign was a success and it was inspiring to see my students having their voices heard and passionate about making a difference.

What is your current work-day like?
I like to arrive at school around 20-30 minutes early to finish setting up my activities and lessons for the day. We start every morning with a 15 minute “soft start”, where students have the chance to ease into the day by exploring various centers around the room (e.g., math manipulatives, LEGO, puzzles, origami stations) or completing any catch-up work. This also gives me the chance to read with students or work with a small group. After our soft start, we have our morning routine which consists of a math discussion about the number of days we have been in school, tracking the weather and temperature outside, and a French poem of the month. I then like to bring the students on the carpet for our morning message and question of the day, which is an opportunity to practice our reading and oral French. Students are seated in a circle around the carpet, which is one child-centered practice from the Lab School that I think is important. The rest of the morning is mostly literacy focused, where we might complete the Daily Five, writing activities, or phonics practice. We also start our math lesson before lunch.

After lunch, I like to give students an opportunity to cool down with a “mindful moment”: usually free-colouring time, a meditation, or a French podcast (although recently students have been loving relaxing “Lego cooking” videos). In the afternoon we finish math, students have their special class for the day (i.e. music, dance, etc.), and we complete science, social studies, and/or art. I like to finish every day back on the carpet where we debrief our day and read a book together.

After dismissal, I respond to parent emails, tidy up the class, and prepare our activities for the next day. As a new teacher I tend to stay at school later than I should, although I do leave all of my work at school when I get home which is nice.

What is one example of an activity that you have given your students?
I love to engage my students with French songs, which is a perfect way to learn new vocabulary, practice French speaking, and have a much needed movement break. I change it up week by week depending on the themes we are learning about and love to play the songs on the Ukulele for the students as well. Recently, we learnt the French immersion classic “Je suis une pizza” by Charlotte Diamond and we took this opportunity to learn about vocabulary relating to food and restaurants. I wanted to engage students further in this theme and set up a pizzeria “reader’s theater” style activity where students would be able to practice speaking with fluency. While I gave my grade ones a script template (they had to complete the blanks), I challenged my grade two students to write their own dialogue with their partner. Students were immediately engaged in this fun theme and had a lot of fun acting as the store owner and the customer. I was delighted with how smoothly everything went and all of the French that I was hearing around the room.

Students practiced for many days and many groups wanted to present to the whole class. I gave them the opportunity to create their own props for their skit- such as pizza boxes, paper money (tying in with our financial literacy unit!), and even aprons. During our presentations, I transformed the classroom with pizzeria music and tablecloths. While simple, this activity helped students practice their French writing and speaking skills, and sparked a lot of joy in the classroom.

Learn more about the MA CSE Program here!

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