Inviting Public Trust - Public Trust through communication. By Michael Salvatori, OCT

PROMOTING PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT AS A means of inspiring public confidence in the teaching profession is at the very core of the work of the College. Andy Hargreaves and Dennis Shirley of Boston College's Lynch School of Education clearly articulate the notion, and I couldn't agree more.

In a report commissioned by the Canadian Teachers Federation, the esteemed education researchers and commentators say that "especially in systems that are already high performing, it is at least as important to build public commitment and engagement as it is to develop a sense of public confidence in education."

Schools and school systems communicate constantly so that parents and other partners have a solid understanding on which to construct their support for public education. And we take our inspiration from them.

We will meet face to face to hear concerns and solicit ideas.

I informed College Council in March that I've made it a strategic priority among College staff to continue to inspire public confidence in the teaching profession through enhanced communication with the public. Not just once. Not for a specific event. But in everything we do. This priority is in complete alignment with our legislated objects and reinforces the College's commitment to transparency and accountability.

We want to know what parents and the public know about what we do in the context of self-regulation and within the sphere of public education.

We want to know what the public believes about the teaching profession as a whole — where it's going and where it needs to go. Beyond informing our own work to regulate the teaching profession in the public interest, the answers we gather will provide the sector with information it can also use to build public commitment and engagement.

Only a public that is truly engaged can be truly supportive of the organization and understand its challenges.

We'll extend questions to our members too, as we routinely do. But these will go beyond the annual survey of members that we undertake on behalf of this magazine and the frequent consultations about developing Additional Qualification course guidelines or the accreditation of faculty programs.

The College has an opportunity to engage parents and College members alike in gauging their reaction to and support for a report and recommendations about our discipline process and practices. As Professionally Speaking goes to press, we are expecting receipt of the former Ontario Chief Justice Patrick LeSage's review. We commissioned the independent examination last summer in our continuing efforts to reflect and improve in every facet of our operation. This fall, we will share the results of that review and evidence of what we're doing to respond.

We've already posted Discipline Committee decisions on our website to inform parents, employers and the public, who previously would have had to visit our library or ask for information.

We are also embarking on a schedule of providing regular counsel to members in the form of professional advisories and making that information public.

As well, we are committed to doing a better job of helping people understand our work to accredit teacher education programs and courses. Years of surveys have clearly demonstrated that our members have reflected on their own preparation and can offer many insights.

Whenever and wherever we can, we will meet face to face, and we will use any electronic or other means available to hear concerns and solicit ideas. At present, we are revamping our website to make it more intuitive for users and easier to navigate and understand.

Early this fall, we will take the College on the road, setting up booths at the university fair and Toronto's Word on the Street festival. And in November, we will invite the public, other regulators and education stakeholders to our Inspiring Public Confidence conference.

Enhancing awareness is a prerequisite to achieving trust, understanding, support and commitment. You can expect to be hearing a lot more from and about us. And, as always, we look forward to hearing from you.

Michael Salvatori, OCT