Professional Affairs Team
College is going to value you
for what youre doing now."
hes sitting still, Joe Atkinson looks like
hes in motion.
enthusiasm for teaching. And as he lays the
groundwork for sweeping changes in the
profession, he has a message for educators.
"We havent done a good job of telling
the public what we do well. A big part of our job
here at the College is to change that."
worked for the Ontario Public School
Teachers Federation for 23 years and helped
the federation earn an international reputation
for professional development. Now hes
taking on a much bigger challenge. As the College
of Teachers co-ordinator of professional
affairs hes trying to make lifelong
learning a central part of every Ontario
teachers professional career.
meeting with Linda Grant and Janice
Thomson. Grant is responsible for the
Colleges professional standards and
education program. Thomson will lead the
Colleges accreditation program.
discussing the first years priorities for
the Colleges Professional Affairs
Department. Theyre joking, laughing,
finishing each others sentences, obviously
on the same wavelength.
priority is clear. They want to hear from College
members. How far can they stretch their budget
sure you let everyone know about our web
site," says Atkinson. "We started our
consultation with questions posted on the web
site even before we hired most of our staff. We
havent had much response because most
teachers dont yet know about the web site,
but we felt it was important to establish this
interactive dialogue right from the beginning.
teachers learn about the web site in
Professionally Speaking, we think this
conversation with our colleagues is going to take
is going to become a very important tool for the
profession as we work together to develop
standards and a framework for professional
learning," says Atkinson.
want teachers to tell us what they think, based
on their learning and experience. Well post
a synopsis of those ideas regularly, and the
discussion will go from there. We also want to
hear from members about additional issues or
ideas we should pursue.
going to carry on this dialogue with our
classroom colleagues through the web, through
stakeholder groups, through conferences - however
are going to be surprised
believes the Colleges commitment to
Internet communication sends an important message
to teachers. "This is a tool that is vital
to effective learning and teaching in the 1990s.
Were saying to teachers that working with
the web is an important part of our professional
"But the more important
message that it sends is that you dont have to be at a university
or a big-city board office to be heard by your College on professional
teacher in Ontario will be affected in some way
within five years by the Colleges
professional standards andaccreditation programs,
says Janice Thomson. "The initiatives the
profession is starting will change the public
perception of teachers, and the way teachers
are going to be surprised, says Atkinson.
"Some are going to be very surprised.
Because what were saying in many cases is
'your College is going to value you for what
youre doing now'. So for example, if a
rowing coach does a weekend seminar on sports
psychology, were going to recognize that
this is part of professional growth... there are
hundreds of examples like that.
of the professional learning were talking
about is cost-free to teachers. Its already
part of their daily practice."
said many educators will be surprised to hear
that the Ontario College of Teachers intends to
accredit professional development offered by the
federations. "We know the federations are
offering some high quality programs that teachers
want, and there should be value attached to these
by the College."
other hand, the professional affairs team say
their mandate is very much what the profession
expects - to develop standards of practice and
teacher education, then to accredit the
providers; to develop a continuum of professional
learning, and accredit that, and to provide
teachers throughout their careers with snapshots
of their skills and strengths.
caution that developing standards will not happen
quickly. "You cant do this work
overnight if youre committed to listening
and consulting widely," says Grant.
"This is going to be an evolutionary
process, and were going to make sure that
teachers are directly involved in the development
of standards. Through it all, well share
the evolution of these standards with the
teaching profession through Professionally
Speaking, the web and other avenues."
the first project facing the Professional Affairs
staff is to work with the Governing Council and
the College membership to develop an overall plan
for professional learning. "Thats the
big job, building a consensus about the work this
department should do over the next few years and
how we should do it."
team will also be proposing three more concrete
projects in the Colleges first year.
are only starting points," says Atkinson.
"We could have chosen another 50 starting
points, but these are the ones were
proposing to the Council - all areas where we
believe the profession will be eager to see the
is a review of the faculties of education, which
were last reviewed by the Ministry of Education
in the early 1980s.
accreditation program will take a comprehensive
look at pre-service training. "There are
wonderful things in every universitys
program. But we have to be sure that all the
faculties are giving teacher candidates the
training they need to meet standards.
not just going to focus on the faculties.
Were going to ask associate teachers and
principals 'are the graduates that you see
learning the skills they need? Are they getting a
professional education that will fit them to walk
into a classroom and provide the children of
Ontario with educational
some blunt questions the profession needs to ask,
says Grant. "Should we be admitting students
into education faculties who dont know how
to turn on a computer? Should we be training
teachers to teach math who havent taken a
math course themselves since Grade 10?"
says he hopes to see three pilot sites operating
at Ontario faculties - at least one French -
before the end of the year as part of the
departments initiative to develop criteria
for teacher education.
would also like to see the College begin work in
a much smaller program area - supervisory officer
qualifications. The ministry developed a
guideline for this area in 1990 and Atkinson says
its "one of the freshest programs out
there right now.
supervisory officials already have a review
running and we would be able to work with them.
This area is in pretty good shape and we may be
able to use the process to develop models for
standards and accreditation in other areas."
project that really taps the enthusiasm of the
professional affairs team is ongoing professional
learning Ñ the "teacher as researcher"
or "action research".
have teachers, department heads, principals who
do research - or would like to - arising out of
their day-to-day work," says Atkinson.
"Is it valued? Can our profession find a way
to recognize the value of what happens when three
teachers get together to talk and problem solve?
project, more than anything else, values the work
that classroom teachers are already doing.
there are groups already up and running that are
looking at this. Wed like to support their
work and get their input into Ontario College of
he hopes College members will learn from this
interview, Joe Atkinson has a quick answer,
"We want them to know their opinions are
valued, that we want to work together with them.
The more we can involve our members, the more
successful the College will be."
learn more about Professional Affairs or respond
to the questions posted by Standards of Practice
and Education or Accreditation, click here.
Team Leads Professional Affairs
federation staffer Joe Atkinson is Co-ordinator,
Professional Affairs. He was seconded to the
College from his position as OPSTF Director of
Professional Development Services.
graduated top of his class from Lakeshore
Teachers College in 1966 and went to work
in the Toronto Board of Education, where his
early experience included teaching in inner city
junior and intermediate programs and in the
outdoor education, gifted and adult education
OPSTF professional development staff in 1974 and
was named director in 1991. The Ontario
Teachers Federation awarded him a
fellowship in 1992 in recognition of his
contribution to teachers professional
learning in Ontario and across North America.
holds a BA in psychology from York and a MEd in
educational administration from OISE/UT. A
dedicated community volunteer, he has served as
President of the Ajax-Pickering United Way, chair
of his local hospitals board and has been
an Ajax town councillor since 1985.
Thomson is Manager of the Colleges
Accreditation Unit. She is responsible for
developing criteria for teachers
pre-service and in-service education programs and
the accreditation process.
her career in education with 17 years in Hamilton
secondary schools. She joined the Ministry of
Education in 1987 and worked on liaison with
school boards and interest groups, and native
worked on the College of Teachers project since
1995. She is co-author of the 1986 secondary
school text Canada: History in the Making and has
contributed to educational TV series for both CBC
received her teaching certificate after
graduating from U of Ts Faculty of
Education and earned her Supervisory
Officers Certificate in 1987.
Grant is Manager of the Colleges Standards
of Practice and Education Unit. She is
responsible for research and development of
standards of practice as well as a framework for
professional learning for teachers throughout
their careers, from entry into faculties of
education to supervisory officers.
to the College from OPSTF, where she was
executive assistant in the professional services
department since 1987. She began her career in
Hamilton schools and has been a teacher,
teacher-librarian, vice-principal, principal,
faculty of education instructor and Ministry of
received awards for her contributions to
education from - among others - FWTAO, OPSTF and
the Ontario Educational Research Council. Grant
holds a BA from McMaster, a MEd from Brock and an
EdD from OISE/UT.