TDSB Tutors Reflection from Joanne

photoWanting to be the ideal teacher or finding the ideal teacher is a difficult task, but CPP TDSB Tutors has enriched my view on the different ways the TDSB accounts for each and every student – making the impossible seem a little more possible. Prior to joining the program I had never heard of alternative schools more or else experienced the warming and welcome environment it had to offer. It was thanks to the initiative of the CPP group that I was able to expand my teaching pedagogy and knowledge on student needs. Any person considering a future career path in education or looking on the How To’s of building a cohesive neighbourhood, should consider signing up with the CPP TDSB Tutors!

 

Written by Joanne Lieu

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Story Time with Aneel Sampat, From 3 to 3

photo%203It has been four weeks since I began volunteering at my school’s From 3 to 3 program. I have managed to settle in quite easily thanks to the wonderful group of kids in my class. However, I did have a bit of a rough start. The first day I walked into the classroom the teacher was on her way out because an emergency. Her daughter had chickenpox! Before she left she said, “Here is a class list. Here are two books. Kids, Mr. Sampat, Mr. S., is going to take some of you to the library to read. Good luck!” And, she was gone.

So, there I was, 6ft1 with a beard as thick as my index finger, having virtually no experience around children, surrounded by kids none-taller than my hips. A room of upturned faces bearing quiet smiles that quickly turned away once they were seen. At the beginning the morning’s readings or sentence forming games, from their individually labelled Ziploc bags, I decided to try crouching to talk to the closest group of three kids. I asked, “Would you like to go the library to read?” One of the kids nodded, trying to steal glances at the books in my hand (The Very Busy Spider and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!). Could you show me where the library is? And so we went. Three brightly clad kids with shoes that lit up when they walked, tentatively, but with their destination in mind. Constantly checking to see that I was following, thumb in the mouth of one, one looking like he just saw a ghost, eyes wide open, mouth like an ‘O’, and one with a smile that could light up a room.

photo%202I got through the entire class. The stories were enjoyed by most. That first day I learned quite a bit. First, some kids were terribly distracted around certain others. Incessant giggles, running away from the table, tossing themselves into other chairs and refusing to move. I made the mistake of mixing some seniors with juniors. By week three I sorted out who could go with who by watching how they interacted with each other in the classroom during playtime, snack-time and music. Also, sitting on the same level as the kids really helps. Closer to the ground they are, the more comfortable they feel. So, I avoid adult size chairs and kneel with them at a table, or we sit in a circle on the carpet. Second, lots of hand movements, sound effects and different voices (high and low) could do a world of wonders for keeping the kids focused on the story I was reading. Plus, they were less likely to squirm around or wander off searching for whatever treasures the library had to offer. It takes at least two or three readings to figure out how to tell a story, so I always switch up the order of who goes first one week and the next and so forth. Then, everyone gets the benefit of a good story sometime.

Third, though you might have two books (unless they’re really short) it’s best to give the kids a choice and read only one. It helps them stay engaged. If they want to turn the pages, I let them go ahead. There’s one girl who always wants to turn the page, and she dictates an order so everybody else in the group gets a turn too. If I forget and turn it myself out of order, she frowns a little the makes me turn back, or I never hear the end of how I unfair it was that I skipped so-and-so’s turn. Fourth, and I’ll make this my final point, if I’m enthusiastic and happy, the kids are enthusiastic and happy. They have fun. They may ramble and make some crazy answers to the questions, but they always leave wanting to hear more.

photo%201Everyday I come in, now that they know me, they smile and say hello or wave. They tell me about their weekends, what they did last week. They ask to go first to the library. They ask me to come back in the afternoon or tomorrow or every day. When I tell them I have to go to school, they giggle and say that I don’t need to. I’m too old. That they want to go to university too. They just seem so caught up in the fun of everything that I end up getting caught alongside them. The hours fly by and I’m kind of excited to figure out how I’m going to make it better next week. I have so much more experiences to write about, but I’ve written quite a bit already. The atmosphere of sheer happiness that encompasses my Tuesday mornings makes this an immensely enjoyable experience. By the time I leave for class, trudging in my winter gear and overly heavy backpack to Victoria Park station, I have no worries about anything. Last week, I was not even bitter about the damn cold.  Just glad to be doing this.

 

Written by Aneel Sampat

 

TDSB Tutors!

DSC_0018Hello everyone! My name is Vicky La and I am currently the program assistant for CCP’s TDSB Tutors in the High School Program!

The TDSB tutoring program has been quite the experience so far! We have well over 40 UofT tutors across 14 different schools within the Toronto District School Board. The amount of diversity within the tutors themselves is extraordinary!

What really sets us apart from many other tutoring programs is that many of the schools that we work with are alternative schools. Alternative schools bring a unique approach to learning, like having small class sizes, self-directed projects, experiential learning, and individually tailored learning (to learn more about Alternative schools check out: http://www.tdsb.on.ca/HighSchool/GoingtoHighSchool/AlternativeSchools.aspx). We also work with traditional high schools as well, so the diversity in all our learning experiences is quite large!

As tutors, we believe that there is more to the experience than just tutoring students about what they are studying in classrooms– learning extends beyond the classroom. Rather, it is important to be able to connect with students and establish a sense of community. Not only are the tutees gaining from the tutoring, but tutors are learning a multitude of meaningful skills and gaining valuable experiences as well! And that’s exactly the beauty in our service learning opportunities! Working as a program assistant for this program has truly been the highlight of my university career!

We’ve had many reflection sessions this semester already and it’s been amazing to hear all the wonderful stories from all the tutors!

Stay tuned for personal experiences from our tutors 🙂

 

 

Written by Vicky La

 

 

 

 

Let’s Talk Toronto: Civic Engagement and Democracy

10659289_1561177100771954_4658331401990455155_n-2The first conversation in our monthly discussion group, Let’s Talk Toronto, centred on civic engagement and democracy. Over the course of two engaging hours, and numerous chocolate chip cookies and cups of tea, we discussed the definition of citizenship, politics, and challenges facing students in their engagement with democracy in Toronto. It was inspiring to see students from a wide-range of experiences and perspectives confidently and passionately share their voices in the room. It seemed that everyone was so interested in hearing what others had to say that no one wanted the conversations to end, even after the two hours were over! One of our final take-aways was that our political system is not inclusive – everyone is not able to participate equally and fairly – but there is a continuum of engagement, one that includes activism, advocacy, and education. Our hope is that creating space for more conversations like our own will empower more people to voice their ideas and stand up for what they believe in.

The next Let’s Talk Toronto discussion group, focusing on transportation, will be on Wednesday, Nov. 19 from 4-6 pm at Koffler House. We’ll be talking about topics ranging from Toronto’s biker and pedestrian friendliness, to accessibility of public transportation, to our ideal visions of transportation in the city. We hope you’ll join us there!

 

Thank you Jody for your reflection! 🙂

 

Youth Mentorship Program

DSC_0001Hey everyone!
My name is Yusuf Yusuf and I am program assistant at the Centre for Community Partnerships (CCP) at the University of Toronto. My role is to facilitate a youth mentorship program for middle-school kids at a public school in the west-end of the city.
The Youth Mentorship Program is an exciting chance for UofT students to serve as mentors to youth in at-risk situations. This year, we are working with Portage Trail Community Middle School. The school is located in the neighbourhood of Weston/Mt. Dennis, which has been ranked the worst in Toronto. It is a school filled with dedicated teachers and passionate students. The goal of the program is to provide mentorship to students and help them become leaders in the community.
 
The mentorship program will provide University students a valuablopportunity to develop a multitude of skills while making a positive difference in the community. The program is also ideal for students with aspirations in the fields of teaching, community development and social justice or equity.
 
_MG_9960The reason I got involved in this initiative is because I could see myself in these kids and I know how powerful it can be to have a positive role-model.  Working with youth is one of those feel-good things where you can truly empower someone to reach greater heights in life.
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Registration for the program is now OPEN and will be closing on November 7. http://uoft.me/ymp