Governing Ourselves

Governing Ourselves informs members of legal and regulatory matters affecting the profession. This section provides updates on licensing and qualification requirements, notification of Council resolutions and reports from various Council committees, including reports on accreditation and discipline matters.


Special Education knowledge key for all teachers

TEACHERS AND PARENTS AGREE – all teachers should have some education related to teaching students with special needs.

Initial teacher education should include content currently in Part One of the Special Education Additional Qualification (AQ) to provide beginning teachers with a stronger knowledge of students with diverse learning profiles, said participants in an open consultation hosted by the College.

Expanding that knowledge for all new teachers would allow for more in-depth content related to various learning exceptionalities in the three-session Special Education Additional Qualification program.

The College is revising the Special Education AQ course guidelines and has asked for input from teachers, parents and the public. The consultation included focus groups, electronic written submissions, a Facebook discussion and an online survey.

Teachers with extensive knowledge and experience related to Special Education comprised 75 per cent of the 3,320 respondents to the online survey, and of those, 59 per cent had 10 or more years of experience in Special Education. Another 16 per cent of respondents had six to nine years of experience in the field.

Parents were the third-largest group of survey respondents. They made both meaningful and specific suggestions aimed at expanding knowledge, building and maintaining parent-teacher relationships and improving student success.

Parents and teachers said they want additional content in the Special Education AQs to better support students. Special Education AQs have the highest enrolment of the 363 AQs currently available. Each year 8,000 Ontario certified teachers take Special Education AQs.

"Special Education should be required in all pre-service education programs. The material in Special Education Part One is necessary for all teachers in any classroom," said one consultation participant. "This would then allow teachers to cover all the knowledge and skill related to diverse learners that currently cannot be accommodated in the Special Education courses."

Some of the survey respondents said that they believed it was a disservice to students if beginning teachers were not provided with the opportunity to develop foundational knowledge in Special Education prior to teaching in classrooms.

"Teachers were very eager to share their wisdom and recommendations related to Special Education. They provided insightful and precise suggestions for the enhancement of Special Education qualifications," says the College's Director of Standards of Practice and Accreditation Michelle Longlade, OCT.

Parents and teachers said that extensive knowledge related to the Individual Educational Plan (IEP) is essential for all teachers.

"IEPs are vital, and all beginning teachers need to learn how to develop and implement them," said one parent participant. Exceptionalities and working with parents were also identified as fundamental course content by both English-language and French-language communities. Enhancing the knowledge and skills of both teachers and teacher candidates through practical and experiential learning opportunities was also strongly recommended.

"Feedback from the online survey, written submissions and consultations revealed considerable areas for strengthening the content of the Special Education Additional Qualification courses," says Longlade.

Participants identified several key areas for strengthening the Special Education course guidelines, including the following:

"The online survey provided rich data regarding both the perspectives and expectations of parents," says the College's Manager of Standards of Practice and Education Déirdre Smith, OCT. "Parents made it clear that they want teachers to have a depth and breadth of expertise related to all exceptionalities. It is essential to parents that the principles underlying differentiated instruction and universal design permeate the professional practices of all teachers."

One of the most important priorities was working effectively with and including parents. Parents wanted to be genuinely and authentically involved in the education of their children and have ongoing access to information.

"Parents who responded to the survey identified the need for teachers to have an extensive repertoire of skills related to diverse assessment and evaluation practices," explained Smith. "The skill set was imperative for fair, just and accurate reporting of student progress."

The draft Special Education course guidelines will be available for review and feedback in January 2012. Watch for it at Additional Qualifications Schedules and Guidelines Schedule D.