The academic programs and life experiences that have led us to this profession are important elements that shape who we are as teachers.
By Michael Salvatori, OCT
Photo: Matthew Plexman
You never have a second chance to make a first impression. This adage comes to mind as I reflect on the anticipation, excitement and energy of the beginning of a school year.
I remember well my first day as a teacher many (many) years ago. I was especially nervous as the clock above the blackboard ticked closer to 9 a.m. and the sound of the bell that would mark the beginning of the day and my career.
I believed then, as I do now, that the first step in showing commitment to students is to learn about them, understand their experiences and relate learning to their lives.
Similarly, I believe that the relationship between teacher and student is strengthened when we, as caring professionals, share with students and their parents who we are, what values and ethics guide us in our work, and why their trust in us is so well placed.
On that first day of school in September 1990, I recall placing some objects on my desk that were important to me. They told the story of my journey to this classroom. I encouraged students to look at the objects and ask questions about them as a way of getting to know me better. I then flipped the exercise and had them curate their own personal museum so that I could learn about them. One of the treasures that I had in my collection was my teaching certificate. I knew that this evidence of my teacher preparation was an important element in building confidence.
Now flash forward 25 years to my current position. I am proud that we have an organization that provides a public view of teacher qualifications to parents, students and the general public. The Find a Teacher function on the College’s website, oct.ca, provides access to member qualifications and opens a dialogue about their professional preparation. It’s one tool that contributes to the public’s confidence in the profession. It also serves as a record of ongoing professional learning in the form of Additional Qualification (AQ) courses.
“I believe that the relationship between teacher and student is strengthened when we, as caring professionals, share with students and their parents who we are, what values and ethics guide us in our work, and why their trust in us is so well placed.”
I often use my own profile on Find a Teacher when introducing this tool to teacher candidates during our presentations at faculties of education. When it is noted that the last AQ entry on my certificate is 2007, I use the opportunity to speak about the different ways outside of AQs in which members engage in professional learning. This includes degrees and certificates, workshops offered by employers, summer institutes offered by teacher federations, and conferences hosted by subject associations.
The academic programs and life experiences that have led us to this profession are important elements that shape who we are as teachers. It is worthwhile sharing our journeys with students, their parents and our communities as we continue to learn and refine our professional practice.