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March 1999

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Developing Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession Was a Monumental Task

Months of behind-the-scenes labour, consultation with hundreds of teachers and members of the public, drafts and debate went into the standards that Council approved in principle December 10. The standards have quickly become an important tool in the College’s review of teacher education programs at Ontario universities.

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By Donna Marie Kennedy

In the March 1998 issue of Professionally Speaking, I wrote about how staff, members of Council and College members at large were diligently working on a wide range of projects that would show results over the coming months.

In this issue of the magazine, you see one of the most important products of their work – the Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession. Denys Gigučre’s article describes the enormous amount of work that went into developing these standards. Of course, the work on these standards is not over by any means. They have been approved in principle and presented for your feedback over the next few months.

I hope you will take the time to reflect on the standards and share your views with your professional colleagues.

The standards are our profession’s answer to the question, "What does it mean to be a teacher?" They have already become an important part of the way we look at the future of teaching. The five themes that underlie the standards: Commitment to Student Learning; Professional Knowledge; Teaching Practice; Leadership and Community; and Ongoing Professional Learning will be key components of the accreditation process as we review the pre-service programs at three Ontario universities this year – Ottawa University, both English and French faculties, Windsor and York.

The educators who will be reviewing for the College’s Accreditation Committee have spent a lot of time discussing how the pre-service programs at each of these universities must reflect the themes that teachers across the province have identified as the core of our profession.


The College’s concerns about the shortage of teachers and the data that we provided to the Ministry of Education and Training has alerted the public to our province’s very real shortage of teachers. All of the stakeholders in education are concerned and anxious to resolve this crisis. The ministry has established a task force that is looking at the issue. The profession is well represented on this panel and I hope positive results will be forthcoming.

For teachers, one important aspect of the College’s report is the very real need to encourage young people to enter the profession. Initial reports are that the widespread media coverage of the College study has generated a flurry of applications to faculties of education. In future issues of Professionally Speaking, the College will be looking at other jurisdictions that have faced teacher shortages and how they have dealt with the problem.


Looking back at past issues of Professionally Speaking, I realize that the feature on remarkable teachers is an important one for all of us. In all of the reflections provided by well-known Canadians, we find common characteristics in those remarkable teachers. Each one had a passion for the profession and for the subject matter they taught, each demonstrated a special interest in the students they dealt with and believed that their students could succeed.

I believe these teachers intuitively knew the importance of the "emotional intelligence" that Fullan and Hargreaves have found to be an essential component of teaching. As Rick Chambers’s article on the Quest Conference suggests, each one of those teachers had purpose, passion and hope.