uOttawa Faculty of Education Orientation FAQ

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to attend the Faculty’s orientation session as a guest speaker. While doing so, I noticed some confusion about the program, and it reminded me how I felt in 2015 during my own orientation. Due to time constraints, certain aspects can’t be adequately explained.

In order to help alleviate the confusion I’ve decided to make a quick blog entry. Hopefully it finds its way into the hands of people frantically googling what different terms mean.

(Sidenote: My graduating class was the first to go through the two-year program. We were very vocal with our recommendations on how things could be changed. So if the details I listed aren’t exactly the same as your experiences, then chalk it up to the Faculty being receptive to students’ concerns).

What’s a “Cohort”?

Each student is placed into a Cohort. There are around half a dozen of these. I was in the Global Cohort (which was the largest at the time), but there are also the ICI, Urban, Second Language etc. You can think of the Cohort as your “extended family”. This is the larger group of people you are likely to spend the most time with.

The Cohort you are placed in determines the content of your classes (to some extent). The Global Cohort focused on global issues, social justice, environmental sustainability, etc. My professors tried to tie those themes into many of my assignments. You can say the Cohort helps determine the lens for the content of your classes.

Cohorts are composed of different Sections, and each Section is basically a family unit. In efforts to build community, the Cohort might organize events and trips within itself. It will also host events that touch upon its themes open to the Faculty at large. Get to know the professors leading your Cohort.

(Think of it as a House at Hogwarts)

What’s a “Section”?

The Section you are in is the letter code at the end of your classes, particularly 3150. For example: A/AA; B/BB; C/CC.

I was in Section E. All the Global Cohort Junior/Intermediate students were in Sections E/EE. Aside from your teachable subject, and your second year elective, you’re likely to spend the entire two years with your Section. These people will be your family in the program, and you will get to know them incredibly well.

Each letter Section is split into two groups (for example, E and EE), and each group gets their own 3150 prof. This prof is basically your homeroom prof for both semesters. They will also be your practicum supervisor, and your immediate go-to source should anything go awry during CSL/practicum.

What’s a “Division”?

This might be called different things, but essentially it’s the basic qualification you will be graduating with at the end of it all. I was J/I which is short for Junior/Intermediate. There are also Primary/Junior (P/J) and Intermediate/Senior (I/S). This is what qualifies you for the grades you will teach.

For us, the Global J/I students were all in Sections E/EE. We rarely encountered the J/I students from the other cohorts.

For employment purposes, you might want to get an additional basic qualification, which will allow you to teach other grades. You can do this while getting your OCT licence, or after obtaining it.

What’s “PD”?

It’s Professional Development. Throughout the school year you will see many events advertised. We had PD hours baked into our first year classes, but I don’t know if that is still the case. Generally speaking, PD is something all teachers do, so this is to get you accustomed to putting hours aside for it. Some of them will be extremely useful, while others will fall flat.

The best PD workshop I ever attended was one put on by the Canadian Red Cross called Exploring Humanitarian Law. The university fronted our fees, and we got an amazing toolkit at the end. I highly recommend it (it’s usually held in October).

Whats a “CSL”?

Community Service Learning. It’s a mandatory volunteer position in your first, and second, years. Your first CSL allows you to get acquainted with your school, students, and associate teacher (your mentor) prior to an evaluated practicum. It gives you the chance to settle in, and do as much teaching as you are comfortable with. Go wild and experiment. Now’s your chance to make lots of mistakes and learn from them.

The CSL in your final year gives you the chance to try teaching in a capacity of interest to you. You can choose where you want to go and truly make it your own. Some will go abroad. Others will go to rehab clinics for teens.

You’re also welcome to sign up for other CSLs. Your professors will let you know when they become available. I did one with Elections Canada, and it opened a few avenues for me.

What’s “Practicum”?

This is your on-the-job-training as a teacher. Over the course of two months you teach classes to students, and are supervised/evaluated by your associate teacher (who hosts you in their class) and your 3150 professor. Other Faculty heads might drop by at different points to check in with you. This is where you really become a teacher, and you will return to university a changed student.

Your practicum typically takes place in the exact same class as your CSL, unless problems arose. Your practicum in your second year will be at a different location. Should you fail a practicum, you will have to make it up at a later date (at your own expense) so you can pass the program. It is essential you speak with your 3150 professor well before you think that might happen.

What’s a “Teachable”?

This doesn’t apply to P/J students. If you are J/I or I/S then you have teachable subjects. J/I students have one, and you have a class dedicated to it in your first year (mine was History). I/S students have two. This is a subject you specialize in for intermediate and senior grades.

If you want to gain additional qualifications in other subjects (to be more employable), you can do this while getting your OCT licence, or after obtaining it.

What’s “FESA”?

It’s the Faculty of Education Students’ Association. It functions as a student council which reports to the Faculty. Each Section will send two representatives to FESA throughout the year. They sit in on meetings and report back to their Sections afterwards. FESA helps organize social functions, fund-raising events, and smooth out student concerns. Representatives can also run for executive positions, if they want the extra workload.

I did FESA for my first year. If you’d like a hand in shaping the program, or getting to know the Faculty leads better, this is the job for you.

What’s “uoZone”?

It’s the digital hub for the University of Ottawa. You access your mail and other web applications through it.