"For the first time in Ontario, the teaching profession has standards of practice
that define what it really means to be a teacher," said College Chair Donna Marie
Kennedy. "Teachers and members of the public together helped develop
the standards, which resulted in a thorough understanding of what makes the profession
unique, challenging and rewarding."
|Councils approval means that the College
can now undertake a further validation process that will include consultation with College
members and over 2,500 stakeholders and other members of the public. The process will
include member information sessions, consultation through Professionally Speaking,
updates and comments on the Colleges web site, as well as validation through
implementation case studies.
"As a self-governing body for the teaching
profession, the College must be able to articulate what the profession is about
something that has never been done before in Ontario," said College Registrar
Purpose of Standards of
Practice for the Teaching Profession
- Focus on the responsibility of the teaching profession to enhance student learning
- Provide a common understanding of what makes teaching a unique profession
- Clarify the knowledge, skills and values that define the profession
- Provide the basis for ongoing personal and professional growth and the accreditation of
- Represent the aspirations and goals of the teaching profession
- Enhance the dignity of the teaching profession
- Recognize the contribution of the teaching profession to Ontario society
- Help the College fulfill its mandate to govern the practice of teaching in the public
"Members of the teaching profession and the public now have a common
understanding of the values, skills and knowledge that make teaching a profession like no
The five themes highlighted in the standards include a commitment to student learning,
professional knowledge, teaching practice, leadership and community and ongoing
"The standards are not meant as an individual evaluation measure for teacher
performance a responsibility of school boards under the Education Act and its
Regulation 298," Wilson pointed out. "School boards and other employers in the
field of education may wish to use them, however, in reviewing their own performance
ONTARIO TEACHERS LEAD THE WAY
of Practice for the Teaching Profession stem from
national and international research on professional standards, and
almost two years of wide-ranging consultation with members of the
College, the public and a broad range of community and interest
groups. Some of the research was conducted as an on-line discussion
on the Colleges web site.
"We contacted hundreds of educational organizations and jurisdictions
including employers and universities and received responses from all over the
world, including Scotland, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland, New Zealand and the United
States," said Linda Grant, manager of the Colleges Standards of Practice and
Education Unit. "We then focused the development of our standards around the common
themes that we identified and adapted them to Ontarios education system. The
teachers knowledge base and commitment to students ranked highest almost
consistently around the world."
One focus for the research was the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards,
a U.S. organization founded in 1987 to enhance the respect and recognition of the teaching
profession through the establishment of professional standards. The board evaluates
teachers on a voluntary basis and provides certification that complements state licensing.
Its professional standards include a commitment to students and their learning; the
knowledge of the subjects and how to teach them; the responsibility to manage and monitor
student learning; thinking systematically about the practice of teaching and learning from
experience; and being part of learning communities.
New South Wales in Australia focuses on seven standards that teachers must meet
mastery of the content and discourse of their discipline; commitment to students and their
holistic development; expertise in the art and science of teaching; accomplishment in
assessing and reporting the learning outcomes of their students; management of the
classroom and other teaching sites in exemplary ways; embodiment of the qualities of the
educated person and exemplary citizen that they seek to inspire in students; and
leadership in learning communities.
The General Teaching Council for Scotland also has a list of competencies required of
new teachers. The core competencies like those in many other jurisdictions
refer not only to practical skills but also to knowledge, understanding, critical thinking
and positive attitudes. They include competencies relating to the subject and content of
teaching; competencies relating to the classroom, which include communication and
methodology; class management; assessment; competencies relating to the school, which
include an understanding of the school system and communicating with parents; and
competencies relating to professionalism, focusing on fairness, co-operation and
commitment to the community, among others.
"The perception of the teaching profession in Norway was very inspirational,"
says Grant. "Norway does not have a list of standards, but defines teaching in a way
that values the knowledge, experience and individuality of every teacher. Good teachers
have a sure grasp of the material, know how to convey it to kindle curiosity, ignite
interest and win respect for the subject. And they respect learners for who they are,
their eagerness to learn, their need to be challenged and uplifted, and their desire to
test their powers. Good teachers inspire and inform."
The College also reviewed the standards of practice of a number of states in the U.S.,
including the Arizona Department of Educations standards for teachers and school
administrators. The Arizona standards for teachers are curriculum-focused and supported by
performance criteria. The standards encompass designing and planning instruction; creating
and maintaining a learning climate; implementing and managing instruction; assessing
learning and communicating results; collaborating with colleagues, parents and others;
demonstrating content knowledge; demonstrating professional knowledge; and implementing
special education components.
Arizona school administrators must meet five specific professional standards, namely
facilitating the development, articulation, implementation and management of an
organizations mission statement; facilitating the success of all students by
understanding, responding to and influencing social, cultural and legal aspects of the
community; implementing positive and proactive communications strategies for effective
parent, community and school involvement; managing services, programs, operation and
resources; and advocating and sustaining curricular and instructional programs to promote
the success of students.
The U.K. Teacher Training Agency is another organization that captured the interest of
the research team. The agencys goal is to ensure that all those training to be
teachers are guaranteed professional preparation to give them the knowledge, understanding
and skills needed to be effective teachers.
The British agency developed standards that are different for new teachers and those
who have the "Qualified Teacher Status" and include curriculum-oriented
Requirements for new teachers focus on entry and selection requirements, course
coverage and length and quality assurance requirements, which include that new trainees be
given clear roles and responsibilities and opportunities to observe good teachers and work
The "Qualified Teacher Status" is required of all teachers working in a
school and is considered a National Professional Qualification. It includes standards like
maintaining discipline, teaching and assessing effectively, fostering enthusiasm and
motivation, engaging in professional development, and for all new teachers, having a sound
knowledge of information technology.
The research finally included a review of the standards of other self-regulating
professions in Ontario nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and social
workers among others. Knowledge base, quality assurance, communication, accountability and
adherence to legislative requirements are, in broad terms, reflected in the standards of
most self-regulating professions studied.
Clarice West-Hobbs is chair of the Standards of Practice and Education Committee that
directed the development of the standards. She stresses that, "Ontario teachers are
among the first in the world to be involved first-hand in the development of their own
standards. In a number of jurisdictions where standards apply to the teaching profession
like some states in the U.S. and Australia teachers have not been as
actively involved as here.
"The standards in other jurisdictions often serve purposes that are quite
different from ours, like performance evaluation or measures of achievement of specific
curriculum objectives. Our standards are descriptors of what makes the teaching profession
a unique professional experience and are meant to be a cornerstone of teacher professional
learning and growth."
PURPOSE OF THE STANDARDS
The standards will be used to accredit, develop and improve professional learning
programs and experiences for future and current teachers, principals and supervisory
"They will be a foundation for professional learning accredited by the Ontario
College of Teachers. The College must ensure that the professional learning programs it
accredits address the professional growth needs of members from the time they prepare to
enter the profession to the time they retire," said West-Hobbs.
"Members of the profession and the public, will be assured in the future that
professional learning programs are closely linked to what teachers do and that every
certification course in the province supports the standards of practice for the
The College anticipates that the Standards of Practice for the Teaching
Profession will also be incorporated into the discipline and fitness
to practise processes. The Professional
Misconduct Regulation that supports the two processes
includes a section that deals specifically with failing to maintain
the standards of the profession.
Council approved the standards of practice in principle and provided members of the
College and the public an opportunity to comment further on them. The deadline for
comments is April 30. You will find a full copy of the standards in the pullout section of
The College expects the final version of the Standards of Practice for the Teaching
Profession to be considered by Council in the fall of 1999.