One of the largest
school boards in Ontario is using the Standards of Practice for the Teaching
Profession as a framework for its interview questions for hiring teachers.
It's just one example of the growing system-wide use of the standards
in school boards and classrooms across the province as the Ontario College
of Teachers revs up awareness.
"It gave us a generic target of the skills and attitudes that the
Ontario College of Teachers was saying teachers in Ontario should have,"
says John Kostoff, Superintendent of Human Resources for Dufferin-Peel
Catholic District School Board. "When we looked at new hires, we
realized those skills and attitudes were what we wanted.
"People were saying the questions were very good. They gave us a
very specific idea of what we were looking for."
The interview questions
are based on the standards of practice, which describe what it means to
be a teacher. The standards encompass five key components: commitment
to students and student learning, professional knowledge, teaching practice,
leadership and community, and ongoing professional learning.
Using the standards as a guide for questions in the interview process
has been very successful and the board is very pleased with the quality
of teachers hired, he adds. The board began using the newly designed questions
about a year ago.
The College has launched a series of standards' awareness workshops, seminars
and case institutes for administrators, school board representatives and
instructional leaders to bring the standards to life. The events were
held at the College in October and November of 2002 and January of 2003.
The sessions demonstrate the College's commitment to increasing awareness
of the standards of practice and the Ethical Standards for the Teaching
Karl Dean, an elected College Council member who sits on the Standards
of Practice and Education Committee, attended two days of a standards'
awareness session for board representatives and principals' groups at
the College during October.
"If you want
to change the direction of education and influence the newer group of
teachers and the more seasoned veteran, if you want to expose them to
the standards of practice and make it become an integral part of what
they do and who they are, then the people you have to get to in order
to effect that kind of positive change are the administrators," Dean
"They are the people who can bring these standards to life in everyday
classrooms across the province. They can do that through professional
development opportunities. They can do that in their day-to-day dialogue
with people in their school. They are key in making a positive change."
Carmela Ciocio, vice-principal at John English Junior Middle School in
Toronto, was one of the educational leaders who attended the October session.
"Teachers should be proud of the standards," she says. "There
should be a sense of ownership of the standards and a sense of pride in
Mike Courchesne, an elementary principal at St. Gregory School in the
Nippising-Parry Sound CatholicDistrict School Board, says his school used
the standards for its school improvement plan.
"This year's school improvement plan was really couched in the standards,"
says Courchesne. "We used the language. The actual implementation
of the plan hasn't changed. But the framework and the language of it have.
"The teachers feel very much validated... it's been a great experience."
Nancy Allaire, principal at Our Lady of Sorrows Separate School in the
Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic Board, also used it for her school improvement
plan, which included improving EQAO results in Grades 3 and 6.
"They were the
guiding principles of our goals," Allaire says. "We had a goal.
We had a focus. We had a priority. But all that fell under the umbrella
of the standards of practice."
"A lot of teachers feel this is a document they need to learn and
to implement when they don't even realize they implement these standards
of practice on a daily basis. The importance for me was to not only create
an awareness for the staff but also to celebrate the standards they were
achieving within the school. It wasn't used for an evaluation purpose,
it was used to identify and to celebrate those standards that werein existence."
In January, the College hosted sessions about facilitating case discussions
to further integrate the standards. This provided an opportunity for educational
leaders to look at another approach for boards to use the standards.
"I learned what the College is doing to make the standards come alive,"
says Debra Mitchell, Superintendent of Human Resources for Peel District
School Board. "It's one thing to look at them in print in a document
but when you link them to a case and an actual school environment, you
see the application and how the standards link to the actual practice
Cecile Somme, Director of Education of the Huron-Superior Catholic District
School Board, says she plans to replicate the College sessionon facilitating
cases with principalcandidates.
"I learned to link the case studies to the standards, which I think
is very valuable," Somme says. "It can help resolve a lot of
The Standards of
Practice for the Teaching Profession and the Ethical Standards
for the Teaching Profession are available at www.oct.ca/en/ProfessionalAffairs/default_e.asp.