In this post, I will be sharing five key tips for succeeding at OISE:
- Banking on your cohort and building connections
- Find time in no time
- Take the stairs whenever possible
- Keep organized
- Self-care & sleep!
Banking on your Cohort and Building Connections
I was aware of the cohort model when applying to OISE; however, I had absolutely no idea how much of an impact it would have on my success within the program. Upon commencing the program, I encourage you to be as open and accepting toward your cohort as possible, even if you feel uncomfortable or vulnerable. This is because this group of 20-30 people will be the ones who are there to support you in the majority of classes when the semester is cracking down. Hence, the faster you can make those connections, the faster you get that much-needed social support, which is key in preserving your mental health over a two-year program.
Although the cohort is one big family, as with any big group, you will find that there are certain individuals with which you click more than others. PAY ATTENTION to these individuals and their work habits. This will allow you to form effective groups for your presentations, in which you can be sure that everyone works diligently and is reliable. In addition, if the presentation goes well, then you guys can continuously form this super team across all of your class presentations. This will help remove the anxiety of being with individuals who may not pull their weight within group projects.
Finding time in no time
The change in pace between an undergraduate program and the MT program is like nothing I could have ever imagined. In undergrad, you have tons of material to study for exams scheduled on various weeks; nonetheless, they are at least relatively spaced out. In the MT program, they prepare you for the life of a teacher, meaning that you get a lot of busy work. There are assignments and presentations happening every week, and it just simply DOES NOT STOP. At the beginning of the program, this is not an issue, but as the program progresses, you will see how exhausting this can become.
As a result, it is important that you make the most effective use of your time so that you can stay on top of everything. If you know you have a 30-minute to 1-hour break at work. I encourage you to bring the presentation notes you need to review. Live in Vaughan or Mississauga and hopping on the subway to head to OISE? Why waste an hour commuting? Instead, print your reading and do it on the subway ride. Why not try taking out your laptop and writing a reflection on the subway ride back? This may seem very simple, but you would be surprised at how much more work it allows you to complete. This will allow you to stay on top of things and provide you with extra time for the most important thing, self-care and sleep, which we shall discuss soon!
Take the stairs whenever possible
Upon your first day at OISE, you are going to quickly notice that it takes about 670,000 years for an elevator to pick you up. Also, when it does, it is most likely going to be packed and uncomfortable to stand in. Why do that to yourself? You are working hard to become a teacher and do not need all that extra stress and claustrophobia. Do yourself a favour and take the stairs, as I guarantee you that you will get to class faster and improve your health all in one. This in itself is a simple and effective practice of self-care. Get those steps in!
As I mentioned previously, teachers' college is a lot of busy work. I recall a time in my first year when I had just started the program. All was well for about 2 weeks, and then BAM, next thing you know, I am about to drown in the deep depths of reflections, presentations, and seminars. I cannot stress how important it is for you to keep organized within teachers' college. Whether it is an agenda, a daily planner, or a google calendar, use something where you can visually map out what is due on what dates and schedule your work/preparation time accordingly. This will serve as the life jacket that will prevent you from drowning in that deep sea of coursework, and if you're like me and can barely swim, this is life or death. Thus, make like NIKE and JUST DO IT!
Self-Care and Sleep
“Okay, Jordan, we know self-care and sleep are important. We have heard this a million times.” Not so fast my friend. Have you heard it from a student within the MT program? Fasten your seat belt and listen up padawan. During my first year in the MT program, I maintained a decent gym ethic for a long stride of about, oh I don’t know, three weeks. Just like every year in my Kinesiology undergraduate degree, my gym ethic came crashing down. However, the difference was that in KINE, we had these mandatory physical activity courses such as Skin Diving and Volleyball that needed to be completed, thus keeping me in shape.
In the MT program, I did not have these physical activity courses. Therefore, in my first year, I went from September to April without doing any physical activity (please keep this on the low because York will probably strip me of my KINE degree if this is uncovered). I remember continuously feeling tired. I would wake up from naps and feel the opposite of rejuvenated. I did not think anything of it. It wasn’t till I finished my first year and got back into the gym in April that I had a revelation. After two weeks back in the gym, my energy levels were much higher, and I no longer felt tired all the time. The difference exercise can make in your focus and energy is incredible, and this is why it is important to incorporate some sort of exercise into your weekly routine over the two-year MT program. Take the stairs instead of the escalator at the subway, sign up for an intramural, bring a resistance band and do exercises in an empty classroom. I have been effectively hitting the gym twice a week in my second year. Whatever you got to do, your body will thank you!
Lastly, I want to add the importance of getting a good night's sleep. This is an obvious thing that the majority of us don’t do. Don’t get me wrong, I thrived off of no sleep in my undergraduate degree. Three to five coffees a day with 2:00 a.m. bedtimes was a way of life. Nevertheless, the MT program is a different ball park. As I mentioned previously, this program is much more rigorous, and I have personally found it very difficult to keep pushing through with little sleep. Hence,I try to go to bed as early as possible. Even if means sacrificing some me time and getting one less hour of music or YouTube before bed, I promise you it is worth it. Also, build in sleeping breaks into your schedule. Got no readings to do on the subway because you were smart and did them on the subway ride to school? Perfect, build a sleeping break in for your subway ride back. These practices will help to keep your body and mind fresh, the most important thing in surviving the two year MT program.
Do all of this and I promise you will crush it. I believe in you. You got this!
Keep Striving Scholar.