AQs Count for Four PLP Credits | Professional Learning Committee Approves Over 200 Courses | Information Sessions for Professional Learning Providers Well-Attended | PLP Approval Given to Popular Teachersí Activities | Better Access for College Members as AQ Provider Base Broadened | Minister Highlights More Change for Teaching Profession in 2002 | De Quetteville to Chair Professional Learning Committee | Transition to Teaching | New Manager of Information Systems and Policy and Research | Discipline Panel Decisions
If since the end of last June youíve learned the finer points of the Heimlich manoeuvre with St. Johnís Ambulance or immersed yourself in online learning courtesy of Athabasca University, chances are youíve already earned a credit ó or possibly more than one ó under the government-mandated Professional Learning Program.
And there are dozens, if not hundreds, of other workshops and in-service presentations offered by non-traditional providers of professional learning that have been or are likely to be approved for credit.
The names of the providers are both very familiar to teachers and unlikely to spring to mind in connection with the Professional Learning Program, but all of them provide teachers with skills they can use in the classroom and that will improve student learning ó two key criteria.
St. Johnís and Athabasca have applied for and been granted provider status; so have dozens of others that include such diverse interests as Lionís Quest Canada, the Federation of Ontario Naturalists and the Northern Ontario Catholic Curriculum Co-operative.
The next step for them has been to apply to have specific courses approved, which they are doing in large numbers ó although some providers have so many learning activities they believe are eligible that theyíre prioritizing their applications according to their popularity with teachers.
Christine Nelson, director of public affairs of Athabasca University, says the university will eventually be applying for PLP credit for all of their 550 online and distance education courses. Their priorities, however, are the programs in which Ontario teachers are registered and asking about PLP credit.
"Besides the Masters in Distance Education program, weíre applying for PLP credit for courses in chemistry, biology, computing ó subject-related courses," says Nelson. "The participants are practising teachers and theyíve been enquiring about credit for the PLP."
Most of these providers have been getting a steady number of enquiries from College members wanting to know if courses theyíve taken will be eligible for PLP credit.
St. Johnís Ambulance offers a one-day emergency first aid course and a two-day standard first aid course. "A lot of teachers take these courses now," says Philip Griffiths, director of sales and marketing for St. Johnís Ambulance in Ontario. And since the provincial government now requires high school students to be trained in first aid, St. Johnís has begun to provide training for teachers through some school boards.
"Thatís one of the reasons weíll be seeking approval for our one-week Instructor course," says Griffiths.
Jim Faught of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists (FON) also sees the Professional Learning Program providing lots of opportunities for his organization to increase their work with teachers.
"We were already developing Wildlife in Jeopardy for the classroom. We spent a lot of time tying it to the Ontario curriculum, pulling together teaching materials. We had already made a couple of in-service presentations to teachers," says Faught. "So when we heard about the program, we thought immediately that this was a perfect fit."
Wildlife in Jeopardy is a kit of activities and lesson plans for teachers and students about species and habitats at risk and is keyed to the Ontario curriculum for Grades 4 to 10. FON is also developing two other courses in consultation with school boards for primary and secondary classes on wetlands and forests.
As well as doing an assessment of what the teachers learn in the workshop, said Faught, we will be asking the participants to evaluate the provider "so we can better adapt to teachersí needs."
ASK THE NATURALIST
FON is also working to develop its capacity to offer courses online and hopes to have it in place within the year. "We already have an extensive web site and an online Ask the Naturalist program."
FON also offers a lot of their materials in French and is planning to produce more in both languages.
A characteristic many of these activities have in common is that they are taught by teachers. Many providers hope this teaching activity will also be eligible for PLP credit.
"The Professional Learning Committee is looking at ways to ensure that members are credited for all
meaningful professional learning that also meets professional learning program course requirements," says Jerry De Quetteville, chair of the Collegeís Professional Learning Committee. "There are questions to be answered about how much credit can be assigned for different activities, and how other criteria would be met, but Iím confident we can develop solutions that will meet our members needs."
Lionís Quest offers a number of life skills workshops, the most popular of which is Skills for Growing, Skills for Adolescence, a hands-on, participatory workshop where teachers look at promoting personal and social skills in young people.
Executive director Joanne McQuiggan said that they applied for approval for the K to Grade 8 Skills for Growing, Skills for Adolescence workshop because it is in such high demand.
"At the latest count we have had about 7,000 Ontario teachers take the workshop over the last 10 years." Typically they give between 12 and 45 workshops a year in Ontario, and all the trainers are teachers.
"Most of them are still in the classroom or are administrators, and they do this part-time," says McQuiggan. "Since the people who become our trainers go through a fairly extensive learning process, shouldnít that also qualify for PLP credit?"
She adds that, down the road, Lion's Quest is looking at online learning as another opportunity.
Some organizations, such as the Northern Ontario Catholic Curriculum Co-operative (NOCCC), provide a range of free resources "to help boards implement the curriculum and produce resources that reflect the Catholic faith and tradition," says NOCCC executive director Carollynn Desjardins.
The materials are written by teachers who are released from classrooms by their school boards. "Thatís important, says Desjardins, because itís another activity we are looking to get PLP credit for. A teacher spends a minimum of 50 hours on a project."
Some Catholic teachers do a lot of work in their dioceses, says Desjardins, and will be doing even more to help prepare for the visit of the Pope to Canada in July. They also offer support for children preparing
for the sacraments. All of this is professional learning, says Desjardins, and she hopes will be eligible for PLP credit.
One of the first activities her organization sought PLP credit for was a Literacy Now conference that will be held in North Bay in March, which will include an in-service on teaching strategies.
Desjardins said that even principals and superintendents who will not start the PLP program until September 2002 have signed up because they see this as an opportunity to get started in the program even though they are not in the first cohort.
Credit wonít be automatic, says Desjardins. NOCCC has set up a system whereby a teacher must specifically indicate that they want PLP credit and that the relevant information about their participation should be sent to the College. It will all be done through a secure web site that will maintain the confidentiality of private information, says Desjardins.
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