The standards of practice, which will now go through a validation phase, lay out what
it is that makes teaching a unique profession. In other words, what does it mean to be a
"qualified teacher"? We hope that the standards, when refined by your comments
and those of the public during the validation process, will provide us with a basic tool
to explain in plain language the skill, knowledge base and values of our profession to a
public that has been bombarded to the point of cynicism with negative messages about
teachers and teaching.
The Standards of Practice and Education Committee, which developed the document, does
not expect you to walk on water. The standards of practice are comprehensive but there is
no expectation that teaching requires that every characteristic in them be evident at all
NOT SO SIMPLE
Nonetheless, I believe you will agree with the need to clearly describe the complexity
of our profession. To reduce and simplify too much only feeds the zealots who believe that
any educated adult can teach. And in a period where the supply of teachers is tight, that
idea becomes a temptation to many powerful people in education who talk about the need for
"warm bodies at the front of the class."
The College of Teachers intends to use the standards in dialogue with the public about
the fact that teaching is not merely the pouring of knowledge into empty jugs. You, too,
may find them useful in discussing with parents how you manage the learning of 30 to 180
or more students per day, how you assess for remediation, how you manage curriculum
change, how you survive when the curriculum documents arrive but the textbooks dont
(or theyre erasable!) and so forth. In other words, this is intended to be a
publicly useful and useable document for the profession.
An important point that many in the profession are overlooking is that the Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession
are not just about what happens in the classroom. They are standards of practice for the
whole profession. They are about the work of every member of this College, including
principals, consultants, superintendents and directors of education.
The development of the standards is very timely. The next 10 years will bring enormous
change to teaching the kind experienced by those of us who joined the profession in
the 60s. We need to be very wary of anyone who proposes simple-minded 1960s
solutions to providing the number of qualified teachers we will require.
Six-week teacher training courses just wont do in the 1990s.
We only need to look at the growing parental and public expectations of teachers, the
very different needs of our extremely diverse student body, of ministry and school
district expectations in both curriculum and student assessment to realize there can be no
return to the simpler days when teacher education was a short course in survival skills.
In her Chairs report, Donna Marie
Kennedy mentions the good news that there was a substantial increase in faculty of
education applicants after the good media coverage of the Colleges teacher supply/demand study. The increase in
applications is across all divisions and in most of the Intermediate-Senior subject areas.
This means that interest in entering the profession remains reasonably strong if
candidates believe that there will be jobs. And this raises a question for all of you who
have enjoyed your career in the classroom or in a leadership role. When did you last
suggest to a student that he or she would make a good teacher?