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Post-Graduate Series Part Two: Teachers College

Old 06-26-2008 at 07:48 PM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2007
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Post-Graduate Series Part Two: Teachers College
Post-Graduate Series Part Two: Teacher’s College
In deciding to apply to Teacher's College, one should (as with any application to a post-graduate program or institution) have answers to the following questions:
1) Why am I doing this?
2) What experience do I have and how is it relevant?
3) Do I meet the application requirements and if not, will I satisfy those requirements by the application deadline?
All of this might seem rather obvious but upon further reflection, the answers might not be so clear.
Being able to justify why you want to be a candidate in the selection process is vital not only in your application to the respective schools, but also in your success as a teacher. Most teacher's colleges have a supplementary application that will have to be filled out and submitted either electronically or by regular post. Be ready to answer questions along the lines of "What inspires you to teach?", "What experiences shape your desire in becoming a teacher?", "Why should we choose you?" (though of course, never phrased so bluntly). Alternatively, schools might require a letter of intention or what's called a 'personal statement'. In many ways, this is similar to a cover letter that you would normally submit with your resume when applying for a new job. Remember to be concise and to-the-point. Present yourself on paper (easier said than done) and try to 'lift yourself off the page'. Provide examples to support what you have stated but don't go overboard on the details. Be honest and don't exaggerate. Of course, expect word limits and do follow those guidelines. Don't take risks and play the 'margin-adjusting' game. It would be waste to throw away your application because you exceeded the page count. Selection boards have to go through hundreds if not thousands of those submissions and they seldom inform unsuccessful candidates because of incomplete applications or ones where instructions were not followed.
Since the application process differs from one school to another, it would be wise to prepare an experience profile early-on in your university career. As a model, I suggest creating a table with three columns:
1) Activity - the position that you held e.g. Camp Counsellor
2) Log & Verifier - dates of commitment, hours, age group that you worked with, contact info of person(s) who could vouch for you (colleagues, supervisors, professors…)
3) Duties and what you learned from the experience
Here's an example:
<table class="MsoNormalTable " style="border: medium none ; border-collapse: collapse;" border="1" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"> <tbody><tr style=""> <td style="border: 1pt solid black; padding: 0cm 5.4pt; width: 159.6pt;" valign="top" width="213"> Activity
</td> <td style="border-style: solid solid solid none; border-color: black black black -moz-use-text-color; border-width: 1pt 1pt 1pt medium; padding: 0cm 5.4pt; width: 159.6pt;" valign="top" width="213"> Log and Verifier
</td> <td style="border-style: solid solid solid none; border-color: black black black -moz-use-text-color; border-width: 1pt 1pt 1pt medium; padding: 0cm 5.4pt; width: 159.6pt;" valign="top" width="213"> Duties & Lessons learned
</td> </tr> <tr style=""> <td style="border-style: none solid solid; border-color: -moz-use-text-color black black; border-width: medium 1pt 1pt; padding: 0cm 5.4pt; width: 159.6pt;" valign="top" width="213"> Camp Counsellor at "Camp Talents Within"
</td> <td style="border-style: none solid solid none; border-color: -moz-use-text-color black black -moz-use-text-color; border-width: medium 1pt 1pt medium; padding: 0cm 5.4pt; width: 159.6pt;" valign="top" width="213"> June 2005 - August 2005
50 hrs/week, 10 weeks
500 hrs total
Children's age: 8-12
Number of children: 65
Verifier contact:
Julio Monaz
Camp Director
123 Happy Street, Kirkland WA
[email protected]
</td> <td style="border-style: none solid solid none; border-color: -moz-use-text-color black black -moz-use-text-color; border-width: medium 1pt 1pt medium; padding: 0cm 5.4pt; width: 159.6pt;" valign="top" width="213"> I worked for the non-profit organization as a camp counsellor, assisting in organizing and facilitating artistic and athletic summer programs for underprivileged children living in the rough neighbourhood of Toronto. Our goal was to help develop a talent within these children so that they could become a good citizen and make positive contributions to society.
As a tennis instructor, I learned how to develop lesson plans and adjust them according to each age group. I further improved my song writing skills by hosting a workshop in teaching the children basic rhythms so that they could keep the beat while singing a song that we wrote together.
</td> </tr> </tbody></table> <o>
Be sure to keep this information up-to-date. By starting early, you will have a solid list of experiences to call upon depending on what is required in the application process. Some schools might restrict your list to 3-5 experiences (give or take) and request that you elaborate on one of your aforementioned examples. Be selective and choose the most impactful one. You will likely be able to best describe what it is that made the experience so special and why it has influenced you in your decision to apply to be a teacher. Having the list of verifiers ready makes it so much easier to get in touch with those individuals should you need their referrals. And be sure to ask their permission first! Simply jotting down a past employer's name without letting them know would surely warrant a poor recommendation. Inform them as to why you need their reference and if a letter of recommendation is required, let them know well ahead of time. Professors are asked to write reference letters all the time so expect to wait.
Speaking of reference letters and referees, be sure to keep in touch with these people. Asking somebody whom you have not talked to in a long while to vouch for you (no matter how nicely you ask) is pretty rude. It's like being asked for a favour from a friend in kindergarten - you might not even remember them. Build, or re-build those bridges early. And please say 'thanks'.
Finally, and most importantly, make sure that you meet all the requirements and prerequisites for the school that you are applying to. Perhaps an oversimplification: Teacher's College is pretty competitive. Your marks do not have to be top-notch (typically a B+ to A- minimum average is required) Applying to a teacher's college in Ontario is all done via the OUAC website. OUAC uses a service called TEAS (Teacher Education Application Service) and you have to first open an account with them (called COMPASS. To avoid further confusion, visit this website and be sure to follow the links and read the instructions carefully.
With regard to the big question: "What courses do I need to get into Teacher's College?" The answer is quite simply too long and too complicated to post here on MacInsiders. Every university has their own requirements for teacher's college and although there are recurring elements, the variability can be summed up like this: there are differences based on what level of education you would like to teach - Primary/Junior, Junior/Intermediate, Intermediate/Senior each have different requirements. Some schools require a creative writing class. Some schools do not accept certain courses as belonging to a teachable subject - 'Biochemistry' might be neither Biology nor Chemistry in one school but could be either/or in another. Courses like 'Translation' might not be considered a language course in one school, but a necessary requirement in another teacher's college's language curriculum. 'Classics' might not be considered a teachable subject in one university, or it can be clumped with History in another. The list goes on…
What is important to keep in mind is that the number of units required for a minor does not constitute the required number of units for the subject to be considered a teachable. Very often, a teachable subject requires 5 full year courses (30 units) to be eligible. Teaching at the Intermediate/Senior level requires 2 teachable subjects and Junior/Intermediate and Primary/Junior requires only 1 teachable subject. Also, be sure to have the right number of volunteer hours (preferably in a classroom setting) and any other details specific to the teacher's college. For universities in Ontario, this website provides a comprehensive list of the application requirements and any other supplementary documentation that might be required.
Often times, it would also be worthy to check out the prospective university's website for more accurate and up-to-date information. Be aware of when information sessions are offered (different universities host them at different times and at different locations throughout the year) and be sure to check them out. This is especially valuable for those of you considering attending Teacher's college outside of Ontario. Pay close attention because requirements change yearly and what was acceptable during the 07-08 period could be very different in subsequent years.
As a final wrap-up, I have included a checklist of items for your consideration. Best of luck in the application process and don't ever be afraid to ask questions and say the three words "I don't know". Clear your doubts early otherwise you would be wasting your time and money during the application process.

  • Know why you want to be accepted into Teacher's college. Practice this: write a 500 word essay describing your 'Teaching Philosophy'.
  • Create an experience profile. Include volunteering, teaching positions, life experiences that help and shape you into who you are
  • Keep records of your work: lesson plans, workshops facilitated/attended
  • Keep evidence of your hard work: letters of praise, thank you notes for a job well-done… all these help when you need to brag and boast about yourself
  • Keep in touch with references and establish a good rapport with them
  • Applying in Ontario? Visit the OUAC website.
  • Pay close attention to dates, deadlines, and read the Instruction Booklet carefully
  • Open a COMPASS TEAS account
  • Review the requirements for each university carefully.
  • Summarize your findings for each university, check for applicability
  • Complete your application on TEAS, again pay special attention to instructions e.g. ordering transcripts
  • Complete supplementary documentation and watch out for the deadline
  • Applying to teacher's college outside of Ontario? Be sure to do your research and ask plenty of questions
  • Keep up your grades and best of luck to you!

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