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Commitment to Excellence

Delegations of educators from all over the world have made the trek to Toronto to meet with the Ontario College of Teachers. They’re curious about what makes Ontario teachers tick and eager to learn — and adopt — some of our best practices. Through an international lens, Ontario teachers shine. A significant part of that is teachers’ commitment to ongoing learning and continued professional development.

By Melissa Campeau
Photos: Ontario College of Teachers

College Chair Angela De Palma, OCT, (left) with visiting teachers from the Netherlands.

Each year, Ontario teachers take over 37,000 Additional Qualification (AQ) courses, designed to enhance a particular aspect of teaching. They have 371 courses to choose from, at 37 physical locations, plus many courses offered online.

“When other jurisdictions come to the College to explore the AQ system they’re shocked to learn how many teachers take additional courses on their own time,” says Déirdre Smith, OCT, manager of the College’s Standards of Practice and Education Unit. “No other jurisdiction in the world has the additional qualification system we have.”

“We have a high level of qualified individuals teaching in our schools. The natural outcome is great results.”

To teach specific classes, and at certain levels, teachers are required to take AQ courses. But in many cases, teachers take them voluntarily. AQs are one of several sources of professional development that teachers particpate in; others include con- ferences, workshops, courses and seminars provided by district school boards and teacher federations.

“Most teachers take AQs to respond to students’ needs,” says Roch Gallien, OCT, director of Standards of Practice and Accreditation at the College. They may be dealing with students whose learning differences or particular challenges require a strategy not currently in their skill set. Or they see an opportunity to further develop a skill or explore an entirely new area, to better connect with and teach their students.

“To a large degree, that explains why Ontario schools are performing well,” says Gallien. “We have a high level of qualified individuals teaching in our schools. The natural outcome is great results.”