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My Millennial Habit and the Ontario College of Teachers

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As a millennial I am part of a connected generation that has grown-up with ever-present access to information on our computers, tablets and phones. Naturally, this desire to be engaged and informed has followed me like a shadow into fatherhood. Ours is a parenting culture that relies on online reviews and keystroke previews into experiences that involve our children. I want the best for my son and find assurance in online tools that assess the standards and practices of organizations that I entrust with him.

I have researched soccer and hockey organizations, martial arts programs, music classes and gymnastics. I have reviewed golf camps, creative workshops and yoga studios. But what about gaining an understanding of the organization that will have one of the greatest influences on my son—the Ontario College of Teachers and its membership of educators? Although several years ago I was once a member of the College, I hadn’t currently considered familiarizing myself with its role and the role of teaching professionals. Now that I am looking at the organization as a parent, my perspective has changed.

I didn’t fully understand the impact and influence teachers have until I became a father of a school-aged child. And I hadn’t fully comprehended why the College exists—to serve the public interest by regulating the profession, setting high professional standards, and approving teacher education programs.

If you were wondering how many days are in the 2015/2016 school year in Ontario, the answer is 197. With approximately five hours of desk time for elementary school children daily, my son will be spending nearly 1,000 hours this year under the care of Ontario Certified Teachers.

1,000 hours.

So how do I access information about the teachers responsible for fostering knowledge in my child? How do I insure the person engaging with my child is a positive influence? Where can I gain an up-to-date understanding of the College’s certification process and standards for teachers? The Ontario College of Teachers website, www.oct.ca, is a great resource.

The Ontario College of Teachers website offers the public access to information about their child’s teacher through the Find a Teacher tool. Find a Teacher is the public register of all public school teachers across Ontario. It includes information on their post-secondary degrees, additional teaching qualifications and if they are in good standing with the College. Through my search, I was pleased to find that my son’s SK teacher holds specializations in kindergarten, reading and primary mathematics. And that she is an upstanding member of the teaching profession.

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I found that the Ontario College of Teachers website is also a great way to stay informed about any changes or improvements to teacher education or licensing and it serves as a reminder of the high professional and ethical standards teachers are held to.

Did you know that, as of September 2015, big changes to the initial teacher education program at Ontario’s faculties of education came into effect? Teacher candidates will now complete four-semesters (up from two) of full-time post-secondary education, plus 80 hours of practical training (instead of 40). The enhanced program will also have a greater focus on students’ mental health and well-being, parent engagement and communication, special education, teaching with technology, and diversity in the classroom. Find out more here.

There are countless resources for parents on the Ontario College of Teachers’ website including information on how complaints against teachers are addressed, resources, reports, brochures, and a free e-newsletter, called The Standard to keep parents informed about educational changes in Ontario and what the College is doing to set standards for great teaching.

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The next time you are researching Jiu-Jitsu classes, the best hockey program, swim lessons, or an elite music school, remember where your children spend their days and the influence their educators will have on them. To learn more about the College visit www.oct.ca.

Find out more about who is teaching your child by using Find a Teacher.

And sign up for The Standard here.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the Ontario College of Teachers but opinions and experiences shared here are my own.

Follow Mathew Lajoie at YOUAREdadTOme.com.

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