Province seeks power to appoint supervisors to oversee health professions’ regulators
The College and other self-regulating bodies are monitoring the progress of Bill 179, proposed legislation that includes giving the provincial government the power to appoint a supervisor to oversee any of Ontario’s 23 self-regulating health colleges when it determines a matter is relevant.
Bill 179, or the Regulated Health Professions Statute Law Amendment Act, 2009, proposes to amend various acts relating to the regulated health professions and certain other acts. It was ordered for third reading.
The proposed legislation would apply to all 23 professional self-regulatory bodies for health practitioners such as doctors, nurses and pharmacists.
The bill proposes that the government be allowed to “appoint a person as a College supervisor on the recommendation of the Minister, where the Minister considers it appropriate or necessary to do so.” It includes a provision that empowers the health minister to appoint an auditor to examine any aspect of a health college’s accounts or financial transactions.
The health colleges argue that numerous oversight mechanisms are already in place to ensure accountability, such as reviews by the Fairness Commissioner of registration policies as well as open council and discipline hearings.
College employee named Investigator of the Year
Peter Jordan, an investigator with the College’s Investigations and Hearings Department, has received the 2009 Investigator of the Year award from the Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation (CLEAR).
A North American organization that promotes regulatory excellence, CLEAR honoured Jordan at its annual general session in Denver in September.
The award recognizes exceptional performance in a particular case and a history of achievement beyond what is normally expected or required. Jordan’s case involved allegations of grooming behaviour by a male teacher towards a male student.
During the investigation, Jordan used his experience and Internet investigative skills to uncover media accounts more than a decade old describing an extracurricular fundraising event involving a former male student.
Jordan successfully located the former student and verified a pattern of grooming similar to the original complaint. The grooming occurred over three years while the boy was still a student and resulted in sex acts with the former College member.
It is not likely that the member would have had his teaching certificates revoked based solely on information from the original complaint. Jordan’s ability to locate the former student/victim and obtain the vital information was critical in removing the member from the teaching profession.
“We are all aware that our activities focus on the behaviour of a tiny minority of the College’s more than 220,000 members,” Jordan said in accepting the award.
“We are proud to work with and for Ontario teachers, who as a group are professional, dedicated, caring people who hold themselves and their colleagues to a very high ethical standard.
“This recognition is a reflection of the commitment of our membership and the College staff to serving and protecting the public interest in education.”
Ideas flow freely for College’s SOQP review
The College is conducting a thorough review of the Supervisory Officer’s Qualification Program (SOQP) to ensure that it reflects the needs of Ontario’s supervisory officers today.
The first phase of this comprehensive review was a consultation on September 25 around the theme of enhancing supervisory officer formation for successful leadership in a changing landscape. Ideas flowed as more than 80 education leaders from all parts of the province participated in a session covering 30 discussion topics.
The group included directors of education, supervisory officers, principals, classroom teachers, trustees and parents.
“Since trustees have a unique and important relationship with supervisory officers, I was pleased to have an opportunity to join other education partners in an innovative and creative atmosphere,” said Angela Kennedy, a trustee with the Toronto Catholic DSB. “Kudos to the College for gathering education leaders to ensure that we have the right plan for the changes we are experiencing right now.”
“The ideas for the new program were excellent,” said Serge Plouffe, OCT, Executive Director of Association des directions et directions adjointes des écoles franco-ontariennes (Association of Principals and Vice-Principals of Franco-Ontarian Schools). Plouffe noted that there are very few openings for supervisory officers in Ontario’s francophone education community and, as a result, only a few people are enticed to earn the qualification.
The College adopted an Open Space Technology approach for the consultation – a method designed to be democratic, self-directed and allow for a free flow of ideas.
Participants generated their own discussion topics, which were posted, and individuals then signed up for the discussion groups they wished to attend. Topics included technology, communication, diversity, financial knowledge and stakeholder engagement.
“The energy is very open, interactive and productive,” said Larry Beardy, OCT, an Aboriginal special assignment teacher for the Keewatin-Patricia DSB. “I feel that everybody is able to have their say and everybody is able to be heard.”
Beardy posed the topic: How do we attract First Nations people to become educators? He said that a major problem for Aboriginal students – and students in general – is the lack of First Nations teachers and supervisors. “We have a real hard time finding First Nations teachers, let alone supervisors. And we need them badly.”
Maria Esposito, OCT, Super-intendent of Education with the Huron-Superior Catholic DSB, found the meeting’s format excellent.
“It’s very inclusive and it respects and honours diversity,” she said, adding that she appreciated the input of parents, principals and teachers.
“Hats off to the organizers because a lot of thought went into providing opportunities to open up and speak freely. They set it up for success.”
The session began and concluded with participants sitting in a large circle, and each participant had the opportunity to make a closing comment. The response was overwhelmingly positive.
“It was well crafted and well thought out,” said Esposito, noting the smudging ceremony that opened the consultation, the bilingual facilitator who moved smoothly between English and French, and how participants developed their own agendas and chose the discussion groups they would attend.
“We live in a complex world and the leadership competencies and practices required of a system leader have changed in the last 10 years,” said Esposito. “As system leaders, supervisory officers play a crucial role in creating successful conditions for school leaders to improve student learning. They encourage and nurture professional growth and foster excellence.”
The SOQP comprises four modules and a leadership practicum. A candidate must successfully complete all program components within five years.
The revised SOQP guideline will continue to align with regulatory requirements, while the Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession and the Ethical Standards for the Teaching Profession form its foundation.
“The 26 reports generated at this consultation will provide rich information to the provincial writing team responsible for developing a new draft guideline for the SOQP,” said Déirdre Smith, OCT, the College’s Manager of Standards of Practice and Education, who co-ordinated the event. “These reports are one example of the data that the provincial writing team will use to inform its work.”
The College will collect additional information from sessions with providers, an online questionnaire and provincial focus-group sessions.
Teacher codes of conduct
Countries or other jurisdictions interested in developing a new teacher code of conduct – or reviewing an existing one – now have a new tool at their disposal. The International Institute for Educational Planning, established and partially financed by UNESCO, has recently published a book, Guidelines for the Design and Effective Use of Teacher Codes of Conduct.
The 101-page book provides an eight-step approach to building a code to reflect ethical norms that will protect both students and teachers. The eight steps are:
The research work was partially funded by the Canadian International Development Agency.
To see the report, visit teachercodes.iiep.unesco.org and click on Download the full text in PDF.
Delegations regularly visit the College to share and gather information on a range of education issues, including accreditation, qualifications and standards of practice. Four delegations visited this October.
High school teachers near the top in public trust
High school teachers scored near the top in a recent national survey about honesty and ethics among 18 professions.
Doctors came first, followed by pharmacists and high school teachers. About two-thirds (65.8 per cent) of the 1,003 respondents judged high school teachers as “very high” or “high” when asked, “How would you rate the honesty and ethics of people in the following professions?”
In comparison, doctors scored 77.4 per cent and pharmacists, who sponsored the Nanos Research survey, achieved a 72.7 per cent level. Police officers placed fourth while car salespeople, business executives and stockbrokers were at the bottom (18.6 per cent).
“Clearly, high school teachers are very well regarded and trusted,” says Nik Nanos, president of Nanos Research. “It is a profession with a high degree of relevance and importance in society.”
Nanos said the 18 professions were selected because they were among those that most touched peoples lives. He added that Nanos plans to repeat the survey next year for tracking purposes.
$30,000 for urban learning
To help teachers meet the challenges of working in an urban environment, OISE now offers two $30,000 scholarships for teachers interested in social justice issues.
The William Waters Scholarships are open to experienced teachers taking a full-time Master of Education degree at OISE/UT.
“Urban is a complex term,” explains Kathleen Gallagher, OCT, Academic Director of OISE’s Centre for Urban Schooling, which manages the scholarships. “Typically, it refers to areas that often have high rates of poverty, where students usually speak many languages and have a great variety of learning abilities. Therefore, their teachers need a repertoire of complex skills.”
Recipients are expected to join the Centre for Urban Schooling for the school year. The scholarship, sponsored by William Waters, professor emeritus at the university’s Rotman School of Management, is the biggest offered at OISE.
The 2010 application deadline is January 14. Winners will be announced at the Waters Symposium on Urban Education in April. For more information, see cus.oise.utoronto.ca.
Canadian high school establishes first poet in residence
Montréal’s Westmount High School will be the first public high school in Canada to name a poet in residence, if Jack Locke gets his way. Locke is president of the Foundation for Public Poetry, which aims to promotes poetry while creating opportunities for poets to make a living wage.
When Locke heard that Leonard Cohen would celebrate his 75th birthday this September, he looked for a way to honour the poet and develop new poets and poetry readers. He calls the project a perfect solution – the Leonard Cohen poet in residence program at the Montréal school that Cohen once attended.
While poets in residence exist at many colleges and universities, Locke believes this will be a first for a high school. Unlike artists-in-the-schools programs, which entail periodic, short-term involvement, residencies offer an ongoing and much-needed presence and resource. He hopes the poet in residence will be able to collaborate with teachers in their classrooms and act as a mentor to both students and teachers.
“Poetry is the area where most English teachers are least comfortable,” says Ryan Ruddick (OCT), a Grade 10 and 11 English teacher at Westmount who writes poetry himself. He knows that many students find poetry hard and think they’ll never get it.
“Modern poetry can be more accessible and I’ve been focusing on that in my class with poets like Leonard Cohen. It will be exciting for students to have access to a writer, a working poet.”
This fall a committee comprising Locke and representatives from the school – a teacher, a student and a graduate – will select the poet from responses to a call for proposals. The residency will start in January 2010. If all goes well, says Locke, a working poet named Leonard Cohen might one day visit his alma mater to talk poetry with students.
To raise funds for the residency, Locke has published Leonard Cohen: You’re Our Man, an anthology of works by 75 poets, including Margaret Atwood.
For information or to purchase the anthology, visit www.publicpoetry.wordpress.com
Rewarding elementary teachers and their schools
Internationally acclaimed photographer Edward Burtynsky’s generosity has led to a major award for Ontario elementary school teachers. The Edward Burtynsky Award for Teaching Excellence in Environmental Education will be administered by the Institute of Child Study (ICS) at OISE/UT.
Burtynsky, who has sent two children to ICS (nursery to Grade 6), recently donated 25 of his industrial landscape photographs to a fundraising auction in support of its new environmental education initiative.
“If children learn to be good environmental stewards at an early age,” he says, “it will stay with them for life.”
Bids for the photos generated $50,000. Other donors contributed a further $150,000 to help establish the annual award that will recognize teachers who apply inquiry-based learning, cross-curricular integration and experiential learning – three fundamental principles of ICS – to environmental education.
The first-prize winner receives $1,000 for environmental education programs at her or his school, a signed Burtynsky photograph and $500 for professional development opportunities related to environmental studies.
Elementary school teachers interested in applying for the award should visit www.oise.utoronto.ca. The deadline is April 15, 2010.
Mother Teresa, Lincoln and who?
What does Thames Valley DSB Special Education teacher Bob Vigars, OCT, have in common with Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln and basketball greats such as Kareem Abdul-Jabar and Bill Walton?
They all rate a chapter in the latest book by best-selling author John Wooden, undoubtedly the most successful-ever US college basketball coach.
In A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring, published in October, Wooden describes seven people he considers mentors and seven others, including Vigars, who think of him as their mentor.
“I’m so thrilled to be part of the book, especially since we have never met,” says volunteer coach Vigars, who teaches at Cleardale PS in London.
Wooden, 99, won 10 national championships at UCLA before retiring in 1975 and is well known for his half-dozen inspirational books.
Writes Wooden: “There are people I’ve never met, such as Bob Vigars … who have done me the greatest honor and handed me the most serious responsibility a person can possibly be given – they named me as a mentor in their own lives.”
For his part, Vigars says: “I’ve read and re-read all of Wooden’s books. I wrote him last year to tell him how he has been such a great influence in my life and in my classrooms.”
Good Government Act proposes significant changes
The Ontario College of Teachers – and potentially some College members – will be affected by provisions contained in an omnibus bill, now under consideration by the Ontario legislature, that bundles hundreds of updates to provincial legislation into the Good Government Act.
The Act proposes to repeal obsolete or spent legislation and clarify how legislation or regulations are applied, and to update some French terminology.
For example, “registraire” would replace “registrateur” and “la profession enseignante” would replace “la profession d’enseignant” in the Ontario College of Teachers Act and regulations.
The bill also clarifies the reapplication process for teachers whose teaching certificates were removed by the Minister of Education before the College was created in May 1997.
If College members whose teaching certificates are revoked by the College reapply for membership, as they are allowed to under the law, they must appear before a panel of the Discipline Committee, which reviews the reasons the certificates were revoked.
When the College was established, a transitional regulation ensured that the same process applied to teachers who had earlier been revoked by the Minister. When that regulation expired, some argued that they could now simply apply for certification and take their case to the Registration Appeals Committee if the Registrar refused their application.
At the College’s request, the government is now clarifying that all applicants for reinstatement who were revoked for misconduct – whether before or after the College’s establishment – must face a disciplinary hearing to determine if they should be reinstated.
Other proposed changes include:
Twenty-two provincial government ministries have contributed nearly 600 amendments or corrections to the Good Government Act, proposing technical changes to simplify government processes, update language and clarify administrative processes.
New voice for Francophonie
The first issue of La Relève went out in September to Canadian French-language colleges and universities. The newspaper was created by students at the University of Ottawa.
The first edition, some 20 pages in length, includes scientific articles, a news roundup and interviews with Graham Fraser, Canada’s Commissioner of Official Languages, and with Joseph Yvon Thériault, a well-known sociologist at the Université du Québec à Montréal.
Editor Jean-François Laniel hopes the newspaper fills a void: “There aren’t many media in which we can discuss Canadian Francophonie.”
For more information visit www.journallareleve.com.
Students and teachers compete for McMaster scholarships
Chemistry teacher Alan Wong, OCT, of Sir John A. Macdonald CI in the Toronto DSB took top honours in the Teachers’ Challenge at the recent McMaster Engineering and Science Olympics. Some 1,000 students and 50 of their teachers participated in the one-day event.
The teachers had less than one hour to build an air-pumped bottle rocket, with first place going to the cork that was propelled the farthest. Wong received $1,500 in scholarships to be distributed among any of his students who go on to enrol in McMaster’s engineering or science programs.
Students, who came from as far away as Windsor and Sarnia, participated in 13 events during the 20th annual olympics this October. First-place student winners received a $500 engineering or science scholarship, while those who placed second and third earned $300 and $100 scholarships.
In the Teachers’ Challenge, second through fifth place winners earned scholarships valued at between $900 and $200. All other teacher participants received $100 scholarships.
The games are part of the university’s engineering and science faculties’ open house. Says Deborah McIvor, Special Projects Co-ordinator for the engineering faculty: “Many of our students say the Olympics was their first contact with McMaster and the deciding factor in applying to our school.”
Registration for next year’s Engineering and Science Olympics takes place in September 2010. Visit www.eng.mcmaster.ca/olympics for more information.
Grade 5 Poster Challenge
Ontario’s Grade 5 law buffs once again have the opportunity to merge their constitutional know-how and their inner Picassos. The Ontario Justice Education Network is hosting the annual Grade 5 Poster Challenge, designed to teach students about the rights and responsibilities Canadians have enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Ontario students are invited to submit English- or French-language posters illustrating what they value about the nation’s democracy and charter. The challenge is intended to support the Grade 5 curriculum, when students are first introduced to the Charter and required to demonstrate and discuss their understanding of the various functions and interactions of the country’s three levels of government. Participating teachers will receive a resource package that includes a sample lesson plan.
While all submissions will be awarded a certificate for participation, contest winners will see their art posted in local Ontario courthouses and celebrated in mid-April as part of Law Week activities.
Registration for the challenge ends on January 15, with submissions due on February 19. Visit ojen.ca or e-mail email@example.com for more information.
Black students awarded $150,000
The Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) expects to award some $150,000 in postsecondary scholarships in 2010. In 2009 almost half of the 47 scholarships – ranging from $1,000 to $7,000 annually – went to students who had just graduated from high school.
Since the national scholarship program began in 1986, the BBPA has provided $1.3 million for black students to pursue postsecondary studies at colleges, universities and professional schools.
“Education is critically important to advancement, and there are many black youth in need,” says Hugh Graham, past president of the BBPA and a trustee of the scholarship fund. Many businesses, including banks and law firms, contribute to the fund.
Scholarship recipients have gone on to successful careers in medicine, law, education and other professions.
Applications for 2010–11 scholarships are due by May 30, 2010. Winners are notified in September. For information visit www.bbpa.org.
International Teacher Education