Interprofessional collaboration enables individuals and organizations to share insights and work together to achieve common goals that serve the public interest.
By Michael Salvatori, OCT
Photo: Matthew Plexman
As a language teacher, I have always been fascinated by the origin of words. It’s one of the reasons that I find some of the tactics used in the College’s public awareness initiative so stimulating.
To prepare for a recent presentation on interprofessional collaboration, I looked up the etymology of the word “collaboration” to spark my thought process. I learned that “collaborate” is derived from the Latin word laborare, which means “to work.” “Inter” as a prefix implies between or among, mutually and reciprocally. Therefore, “interprofessional collaboration” suggests professionals working together, to which I would add, toward the achievement of a common goal.
Ontario schools offer excellent examples of collaboration. Teachers, principals, education assistants, social workers, early childhood educators, speech language pathologists and parents — among many others — all come together in a community of care and commitment with the common goal of supporting students, helping them to achieve success and to contribute to our civil society.
Like you, the Ontario College of Teachers collaborates with its professional partners in the public interest.
Our common goal is public protection, public trust and confidence. This collaboration takes many forms. For example, we meet regularly with colleagues from other regulatory bodies such as the College of Early Childhood Educators, the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Ontario College of Trades to share and develop best practices in policy development, credential assessment and fair registration. Our collective experiences and expertise lead to the enhancement of our practices and to better protection of the public.
As regulators, we also work jointly on projects like the very successful Ontario College of Teachers and the College of Early Childhood Educators Summer Institute. This past July, the colleges came together at the Institute to focus on interprofessional collaboration and ethical leadership within full-day early learning. Early childhood educators and kindergarten teachers gathered at the College to discuss connections among the ethical standards and standards of practices between our colleges.
Participants saw the value in using the standards from both colleges to communicate to the public, and to establish and maintain effective communication among professionals working together toward the common goal of educating young learners. Many of the participants highlighted the importance of understanding that we all share common values, purpose and passion in the service of children.
One participant, Irina Alexeeva, RECE, commented, “I’ve not only learned so much, I also [know] that I’m not alone on the pathway of the exciting journey of full-day kindergarten. I’m confident that together we will make it better.”
The companions on the journey metaphor reminded me of one of my favourite childhood cartoons from the TV series Schoolhouse Rock! To teach the function of conjunctions, a catchy jingle “Conjunction junction, what’s your function?” accompanied an animated train engineer and switching station with various train cars (“and” or “but”) to link sentences.
Not unlike the animated lesson, collaboration is about “hooking up cars and making them function.” Schools, classrooms and learning are improved when professionals find their junctions. I encourage you to take every opportunity to collaborate with your colleagues for the benefit of your students. As you do, know and feel confident that your professional regulator is doing the same.