As a young teacher, I recall feeling exhausted and excited as another school year came to a close. It was a time to celebrate the joys of hard work by reflecting on the students who had succeeded as a result.
It was also a chance to consider what I'd learned, how I'd grown as a teacher and what I might do next.
As you look back, take pride in what you've accomplished. As you look ahead, consider how you can further serve Ontario's students.
This fall, working teachers and other educators have a unique opportunity to gain a provincial perspective on public education and to influence decisions about the teaching profession itself by running for a seat on the College's Council.
Think about it: Who better to determine the future of teaching than those working in schools and classrooms?
Teachers know best what they need in order to grow. They know what pre-and in-service professional development will best meet their needs and the demands of today's classrooms.
They know the importance of having ethical and practice standards to guide their work and to help communicate to parents and others outside the classroom.
They know how rare the opportunities are to influence change on a large scale that actually helps teachers and educators.
If new legislation passes as expected, there will be 23 elected positions for teachers and other educators on College Council, up from 17 now. Combined with 14 appointed positions, that makes 37 people whose commitment to education and whose vast knowledge will chart a course for the College for years to come.
Serving on Council means representing the teaching profession while protecting the public interest. It's a chance to participate in high-level debate over issues that directly or indirectly affect all Ontarians. It's about standing up for the people that public education serves.
As a self-regulatory body, the College is responsible for giving its best and for advising the government about changes to teacher licensing, education and discipline that is in the best interest of students and the public.
"The granting of self-government is a delegation of legislative and judicial functions and can only be justified as a safeguard to the public interest," said Chief Justice James C. McRuer in his landmark analysis of administrative power and procedures in Ontario in 1968. "The power is not conferred to give or reinforce a professional or occupational status."
That said, everyone I've known who has served on Council has regarded the privilege as a terrific personal investment in professional development. Because much of their work occurs at the committee level (Council itself meets four times a year), councillors benefit from a broad and deep exposure to education issues seen through a provincial prism.
Those who sit on accreditation panels, for example, engage in intense and meaningful discussion with new and existing faculties of education to ensure that they meet Ontario standards for teacher education. It's quality assurance and public accountability rolled into one. Accreditation panel members work to make sure that teacher candidates are ready to serve in Ontario's classrooms and that they are provided with the knowledge and skills to become exemplary teachers.
Few things are as satisfying as shaping the growth of young minds in the classroom. But working with educators and non-educators to shape the direction of the teaching profession itself has its own rewards.
Heed the call to serve. Your professional future - and the future of the teaching profession - is in your hands.