In my first address
to Council as Chair, I reinforced my belief that the combination of returning
and new Council members, all of whom bring a vast wealth of experience,
strengths and knowledge to the Council, will allow us to demonstrate innovative
leadership, effective partnerships and strong governance that will be
meaningfully infused into every facet of our profession to every
member, to every partner, to the public and to every student. You will
be hearing more about this over the next three years.
The cues are all around us.
New teachers entering the profession want more help in their first few
years. Veteran teachers, retiring in large numbers, are taking the richness
of their experience with them. And school boards, strapped for cash, find
it difficult to commit scarce resources to help close the knowledge gap
by creating and supporting mentoring programs.
In education today, only those programs that are mandatory get their due.
But where does that leave students?
Teacher induction improves learning by improving teaching. Teachers know
it. School boards know it. Educational researchers around the world confirm
it. That's why the Ontario College of Teachers has taken the lead in calling
on the provincial government to fully fund mandatory teacher induction
and mentoring programs in every Ontario school board. Further, we have
developed a framework based on current research for systematic induction
and provided the financial rationale for its creation.
Our interest in this topic is not new. Three years ago, in a report called
Maintaining, Ensuring and Demonstrating Competency in the Teaching Profession,
the College focused on the challenges of teacher retention and recruitment
in this decade. With massive changes already afoot in education and with
the projected wave of retirements, the College recommended that school
boards establish induction programs to enable beginning teachers "to
develop and to refine the knowledge and skills required by members of
the teaching profession."
All evidence shows that planned and sustained support for new teachers
helps to smooth their transition from faculty classrooms to full-fledged
professionals. Induction makes new teachers feel welcomed. It gives them
the tools to learn faster and perform better. It makes them feel connected
to their colleagues, to the school and to the goals of the system. It
gives them a sense of satisfaction and makes them more successful.
It costs roughly $4,400 to recruit a new teacher to the profession. Induction
and mentoring helps to keep these new teachers in the profession once
they arrive. But only one in four were involved in a formal mentoring
program in 2002.
Yet new teachers are subject to some of the toughest assignments and are
the first to be considered surplus or to be reassigned when year-end planning
occurs. Not only are they learning how to teach, they're often doing it
in a variety of settings - all within their first couple of years.
Is it any wonder why more than 60 per cent of Ontario's school boards
say that retaining teachers is a problem?
The Ministry of Education must make a commitment to induction now.
To stimulate debate on the issue, the College has written a white paper
called New Teacher Induction:
Growing Into the Profession. We are consulting with teachers and other
education stakeholders across the province on the paper now. Once the
feedback has been synthesized, we plan to forward a revised report, reflecting
the feedback, to the Minister of Education.
The College, through its promotion of the need for induction programs,
is taking a stand on behalf of the profession and the public.
With induction, we want to establish up front what makes sense, why and
how the program should be funded and evaluated.
We will do what we can to help teachers become better teachers and improve