Professionally SpeakingThe Magazine of the Ontario College of Teachers
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Governing Ourselves


Understanding and respect are key to path forward

The College regulates the profession in the public interest. Federations advocate for teachers. Respecting the differences – and each other's roles and strengths – is important.

by Don Cattani

We get talked at a lot in education. I have sat through many lengthy presentations during which I wanted to scream, “Stop!

“I've got lessons to develop, parents to call, long-range plans due, enough marking to take me to my old age pension and report cards to complete using prescribed comments I'm not sure anyone understands.”

Sometimes I was convinced that what I was hearing or reading wouldn't help me with my job but instead took valuable time away from the tasks I had to finish to stay on top of my workload.

As I write this column, I wonder whether the time you take to read this message will be useful or just keep you from your real work. I hope it's the former – and I thank you for your time.

“Council will benefit from the added voices of working teachers.”

What do you know about the Ontario College of Teachers?

Perhaps you know that we charge you an annual membership fee and that this magazine comes quarterly by mail.

You may know that we examine standards for teaching, licensing, further education and professional conduct.

You may know that we reflect changes in legislation by developing regulations and we try to accomplish this on behalf of the profession in the best interests of students, parents and the public.

You may know that the College accredits teacher-education programs, licenses new and internationally educated teachers and provides fair hearings in matters of registration appeal, accreditation appeal, incapacity and professional misconduct.

You may also know that a few short years ago the College was held in low esteem by many of its members as it attempted to implement a previous government's re-certification mandate. You may know that fees increased significantly as it did so.

What has changed?

Re-certification? Teachers declined to participate and a new government subsequently gave re-certification its proper burial. Fees have been reduced.

With the passage of Bill 78 in June 2006, the College received a new governance model that features a majority of elected classroom teachers, a model similar to other regulatory bodies in this province – a model that should have been in place all along.

Our newly reformed Council will benefit from the added voices of working teachers who will speak with authority on professional matters affecting teachers and educators.

I know that by being selected to represent you on the profession's self-regulatory body, you are trusting me and my Council colleagues to make the best decisions we can on behalf of the teaching profession.

“I promise you we will not work in a vacuum.”

We are honoured to do so, but you must understand that the College Council does not advocate for our members. That responsibility belongs to teacher federations as well as principal, superintendent and director associations that serve their members remarkably well. We respect their mandate to advocate for professionals and in turn expect them to respect our mandate to regulate the profession in the interest of the public.

I promise you we will not work in a vacuum. The Registrar and I have already met – both formally and informally – with leaders of teacher federations, principals' councils and superintendent associations to discuss our respective mandates. We have indicated our willingness to work together to forestall future concerns and to identify common initiatives of mutual interest.

Respect is foundational to education and to each stakeholder group within education. The better we understand each other's strengths and differences, the better chance we have of closing old chapters and moving forward in service to our members by continuing to foster public confidence in the profession.

We want to communicate openly and frequently with federations, associations, employers, parents and government – and of course with you.

I welcome your feedback.