Hey, look us over
Universities are asking the teaching profession to lend an ear and take a thorough look at their proposals for teacher education.
Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario
UNIVERSITIES all around Ontario are waiting eagerly for a visit from the College of Teachers. They’re hoping to launch new accredited teacher education programs–but first they need the teaching profession’s approval.
The responsibility for accrediting faculties of education–both new and existing–gives teachers a unique role in setting directions for their profession. The College of Teachers is believed to be the first of Canada’s self-regulatory bodies authorized to accredit education programs for existing members and those entering the profession.
Even before the College was formally granted accrediting powers in December, Trent University, Redeemer University College, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Laurentian University had all asked for consideration of proposed new or expanded programs.
Trent sees the launching of its own School of Education and Professional Learning not as a new endeavor but as a recommitment to long-held community values, says Deborah Berrill, the school’s director. In 1906, Peterborough city councillors, the Board of Trade and school board members made a case for the creation of the Peterborough Normal School to train teachers for work in public schools.
The school opened in 1908 and ran until the late 1960s. The new proposed consecutive program would complement the concurrent teacher education program that Trent has offered since 1973 in partnership with Queen’s University.
Hoping For This Fall
Trent has applied to offer a consecutive Bachelor of Education program this fall. The anticipated program would give 115 full-time and 120 part-time students the opportunity to learn to become teachers. The university says more than 2,700 have already applied. Berrill says the College’s accreditation process has been helpful.
"The requirements ensure that we pay attention to the things that really need to be in place to have a strong teacher education program," she says. "It (accreditation) ensures that we have talked at length with our partners in the district school boards and teacher federations. It ensures our institutions learn about the needs in teacher education programs because our needs are different from some of the other faculties."
Berrill says 30 per cent of Trent graduates already go on to become teachers. Moreover, Trent’s Arts and Science faculty offers courses in physical science, mathematics, and environmental science to support students who want to become teachers. The intent is to inspire confidence to go on to teach in those subject areas.
The one-year, full-time program is proposed to run from August to May. Berrill says Trent is also planning a part-time program that would be accessible to people who may have full-time commitments.
"The standards of practice will be strongly infused across all our courses," says Berrill. "That’s the delightful thing about being able to create the whole curriculum from scratch. We intend to infuse the standards, special needs, legal issues, literacy and technology across the curriculum."Redeemer Expands
Although most of the Christian university’s teaching graduates–20 to 25 a year since 1990–have gone on to teach at independent schools, Cooper says it’s important that Redeemer graduates become qualified to teach in any Ontario school system. Accreditation of Redeemer’s teacher education program will give Redeemer graduates the recognition they deserve, he says. This is the first time, based on the new regulations, that Redeemer will be able to seek accreditation of its teacher education program in Ontario.
"From day one we tried to meet Ontario standards as we saw them practised at other faculties of education," he says. "We recognize the importance of having standards for teacher education as one would for other professions or for other undergraduate university programs in general. We have always endeavoured to meet high standards and the Ontario College of Teachers process now gives us an opportunity to demonstrate our good intent on that."
"We have a very good impression of the College and what it’s trying to achieve in trying to promote and ensure that faculty of education programs meet high standards," says Cooper. "We appreciate the assistance we’ve received and the co-operation and we look forward to being a more regular part of Ontario teacher education."
Recognized as a degree–granting institution in Ontario in 1998, Redeemer has grown 45 per cent in the last four years. Now at 750, enrolment is expected to grow to 1,000 students in the next few years. And a $12 million campus expansion is in the works.
"What’s exciting to us is that the kind of growth we’re looking at will be sustained beyond the double cohort this year. We don’t see this as a one-year phenomenon. The extent to which the accreditation of our teacher education program will impact–that we can’t tell–but our sense is we’ll grow even more rapidly once it takes effect."
Redeemer expects to enrol up to 50 teacher candidates a year within three to five years.
"Based on interests and needs, our expectation is that the program has the potential to grow. We would like to do that carefully and not be pushed by market forces," Cooper says.
UOIT Looks To Need
"We’re committed to programs that focus on areas where there is a market need," Hunter says. "Most of our information with respect to market (teacher) need came from the College."
UOIT’s overall mission is education for the sciences and technology. Because it is intended to be a laptop university, instruction will be technology intensive and will focus on intermediate-secondary science, mathematics, and computing. Case-based, inquiry oriented instructional methods will be used.
UOIT proposes to start its consecutive teacher education program this fall, subject to accreditation by the Ontario College of Teachers. There are also plans to offer a concurrent program.
Accreditation, says Hunter, helps to validate a program’s quality.
"I think it’s valuable to have external recognition for the quality of a program," he says.
The Ministry of Education, Laurentian University, the University of Ottawa and the Conseil ontarien des directions de l’education de langue française (CODELF) propose to address teacher shortages in French-language school boards by enabling teachers working under letters of permission to enrol in a BEd program part-time. Candidates would have to meet the same admission standards as students in the current one-year consecutive program. The pilot project, however, must undergo an accreditation review.
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