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March 1999

Tech Teachers


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Will DTTO + OTDA + OTEA + OTECC + TECCO = TEAO?

Technology Teachers Working Toward One, New Voice

By John Fredette

Ontario’s 7,500 English-language technology educators could soon have one association, after members of the five existing subject associations meet at "Conference ’99" in Toronto on May 14 and 15 to discuss the creation of the new Technological Educators’ Association of Ontario (TEAO).

Members of the Ontario Technological Education Association (OTEA), Design and Technology Teachers of Ontario (DTTO), Ontario Technology Education Co-ordinators Council (OTECC), the Technological Education Curriculum Consortium of Ontario (TECCO) and the Ontario Technological Directors’ Association (OTDA) have been working for four years to set up the framework for one association.

The Association franco-ontarienne en Úducation technologique (AFOET) has also participated in the discussions, but as it is funded differently, it will continue as it has, representing technological educators in the French-language system. The organizations will continue their close association.

ADVOCACY

The partners working to create this new organization hope it will provide a strong, unified voice to advocate on behalf of technological education.

TEAO will take the lead in working with other stakeholders on issues in technological education, primarily through the Technological Education Liaison Group (TELG). TELG includes representatives from subject associations, faculties of education, teachers’ federations, the Ministry of Education and Training, and the Ontario College of Teachers.

Currently, TELG is tackling issues in qualifications for technology teachers to iron out inequities between those in the public and separate systems and bring certification up to date with changes in Ontario’s education system.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Conference ’99 is the kind of professional development opportunity the new association hopes to provide. TEAO will also encourage and facilitate the development and sharing of curriculum resources among educators and help them keep pace with technological innovation and its impact on school programs. A significant part of TEAO’s work may be to develop and provide updating and Additional Qualification training.

All technological educators across Ontario will be able to be members in the new TEAO. As an innovation, TEAO is proposing to offer school memberships, so that all the technology teachers in one school have access to TEAO benefits. Teachers would no longer have to sign up as individual members.

John Fredette and Gord Bergsma will offer a communications technology workshop at Conference ’99 to showcase the province-wide Internet communications system for the new organization. Discussions are also under way with a publisher about the possibility of a provincial magazine for tech educators. It’s hoped this will open the door for a new approach to a unique pilot project in integrated technology that will provide an opportunity for students to integrate Internet skills and technology as part of the new organization’s editorial department. Advertising would be offered to all vendors that supply Ontario’s technological facilities.

TECH TEACHERS NEEDED

Crystal Adams, a student in Paris, Ontario, wrote recently in a letter to the Hamilton Spectator, "The technological educators found in Ontario’s schools have earned their degrees through an apprenticeship process and have spent many years in their selected field before choosing a career in education. They are mechanics, chefs, bakers, cosmetologists, carpenters, computer technicians, etc.

"They will be the first to tell you that teaching is like no other career. It brings challenges and rewards that are unique to the profession. Why did they leave their professions? Because they wanted to make a difference, create an interest and enthusiasm in perhaps their trade or at least by expanding a student’s horizons by providing the opportunity to explore options they hadn’t thought of. This is important because our country is experiencing a shortage of skilled tradespeople. Without the next generation showing an interest or aptitude in technology we will quickly fall behind on the global scale."

As this student points out, Canada needs skilled trades-people. That means we must have an education system that has enough qualified technological educators and the resources they need to teach. But, all the changes arising from amalgamating school boards and from cutbacks create a threat to technological education.

Those involved in technological education must lobby with one unified voice if they want to influence decisions that affect technological education.

The new Technological Educators’ Association of Ontario intends to be that voice.

For information on Conference ’99 or membership in TEAO please e-mail otea@npiec.on.ca.

John Fredette is president of the Ontario Technological Education Association and co-chair of Conference ’99. He teaches at Parkview Secondary School in Hamilton and can be reached at otea@npiec.on.ca

 Conference ’99

This conference, set for May 14 and 15 at Central Technical School in Toronto, will help technological educators prepare to implement the new curriculum as it relates to secondary school reform.

Ontario College of Teachers Registrar Margaret Wilson will be the keynote speaker, addressing the looming shortage of qualified technological educators.

Workshops, speakers, vendors and displays, as well as the curriculum writing teams, will be on hand. Plans are also under way to host a job fair to attract potential technological educators and representatives from faculties and boards of education.

A committee is working to honour five decades of technological educators and former association members in a gala affair on opening night. For information and to register as an honourary member (former technological educators) please contact social convenor Bob Longworth, vice-principal at Oakwood Secondary School at (416) 393-1780 or contact the conference chair John Fredette at otea@npiec.on.ca.