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From The Chair

My cousins’ confusion

Understanding Council’s Role

By Nicole van Woudenberg, OCT
Photo: Matthew Plexman

Photo of College Chair Nicole van Woudenberg smiling.

I am one of many teachers in my extended family. I have relatives who are teachers not only in the Netherlands, but also in New Zealand, Germany, Suriname (South America), and of course Canada. Family reunions become a bit one-sided for the non-teaching spouses, but the beauty is the similarity in the principles we share in our profession.

When my cousins abroad ask me now what my job entails, there is a bit of confusion. They want to equate it to the Ministry of Education’s work or the work of a union or association, but I explain that it is professional self-regulation. College Council sets the direction for the teaching profession in the public interest.

The “public interest” is defined by as “the welfare of the general public … in which the whole society has a stake and which warrants recognition, promotion, and protection by the government and its agencies.” Ultimately, protecting the public interest means making decisions, developing policy or executing programs that build confidence and trust with the general public.

When we drink a glass of water from the tap, we trust that those who regulate the water supply in our town have done so to protect our well-being. Similarly, when we visit our doctor, we expect that she or he will provide the utmost care and professionalism in meeting our health-care needs.

We also expect that there are requirements for those professionals to maintain standards and skills that keep us — the general public — safe from harm. The privilege of self-regulation is that Ontario Certified Teachers, skilled in the art and science of teaching, make decisions that help shape the profession.

My Council colleagues, who are elected by licensed teachers, act in the public interest. They do not have a constituency like politicians. Likewise, my Council colleagues who are appointed by the government also serve the public. This is our unifying principle.

We all take great pride in our profession, and the public continues to put its faith in us when their children enter our classrooms every day.

Nicole van Woudenberg's handwritten signature.