As a parent, I’m relieved to know that my kids are in good hands each year with teachers who are current on both curriculum expectations, professional standards, and modern approaches to learning.
As an educator, I’m proud to belong to a professional group such as the Ontario College of Teachers. I belong willingly to a number of other associations for my professional networking, access to educational resources and because it’s a priority for me to stay upto date with educational trends based on the latest research. The College is unique though. It exists as a self-regulatory body for the K-12 teaching profession in Ontario. This body is responsible for licensing our teachers, setting high standards for them, and ensuring that teacher education programs meet certain specified criteria. As such, it’s not an optional professional group. Having worked in other domains as well as teaching (including an education-related position within a hospital setting, and an accounting firm) my opinion is that is that membership in self-regulatory organizations has great benefits and demonstrates trust in a profession. Having OCT after my name acknowledges that I belong to a professional community with high standards, one that is deeply committed to their students as well as to their colleagues.
Ongoing Professional Development that meets my own needs and interests is important to me as a teacher. I participate regularly in a variety of learning activities and professional dialogues, including on Facebook, which those who read my blog regularly will already know. This year, I am contemplating a new challenge – an Additional Basic Qualification course. So far, I’ve been happy teaching the intermediate-senior set (which is grades 7-10, and then 11-12) but I’m starting to think about moving to a lower grade and I want to be well prepared for that. Because the College approves teacher education programs, we can be assured that the content conforms to the professional expectations which are set out.
In addition to approving courses for teachers’ certification in this province, there are both ethical standards as well as professional standards of practice established by the College. Many people think first and foremost of the College’s disciplinary role when a certified teacher is accused of breaching one or more of those standards, but I’d argue that the more important role is that those standards are set and communicated in the first place. Proactive rather than simply reactive is surely the way to go when it comes to our children’s education and well being. Within the Professionally Speaking magazine (Pour parler profession, for the French version), there is a feature that I personally love which allows teachers to ponder case studies, and determine what the best course of action is, reflecting upon the professional and ethical standards. It’s perfect for schools to take a look at within PD sessions or within teams as well as for individual teachers to read at home. Another great thing that the College does is to highlight fantastic teachers and share the aspects of their practice that are exemplary. (Check out my favourite one, highlighting a French teacher I’ve had the honour to meet and interact with, as well as to share professional discussions online.)
Parents can learn more by signing up for “The Standard” a newsletter geared specifically for parents who wish to know more about teacher accreditations and similar topics.
Teachers can check out the Professional Advisories issued by the College, consult the publications they receive via mail or electronically, as well as finding out more at the Ontario College of Teachers website overall.
Follow Tammy Aiello at TeachingFSL.com.