By Melissa Campeau
Later this year the College will release AQ guidelines for teach- ing LGBTQ students. “We’re really excited about this one because we invited students to participate in its development, as well as educators and parents,” says Déirdre Smith, OCT, manager of the Standards of Practice and Education Unit at the College. “It was really quite profound to hear what students believed teachers needed to do to create inclusive, equitable and just learning environments.”
New guidelines for a three-part teacher leadership AQ will also be available this year. “We anticipate many teachers will take this AQ because there are so many roles for teacher-leaders at our schools and because teacher leadership is central to effective schools and student learning,” explains Smith. In developing the course, the College consulted with 100 teacher-leaders in the province. “These teachers were able to develop policy for their own pro- fessional practice, which is extremely empowering,” says Smith.
“On the French-language side, an AQ that is fairly new is Leadership en milieu minoritaire,” says Roch Gallien, OCT, director of Standards of Practice and Accreditation at the College. “Some teachers in Eastern Ontario may come from Québec, where they were part of a majority culture. Now, in Ontario, they’re in a minority setting, and this requires teaching the French language in a different way,” says Gallien. The course aims to help teachers encourage students to embrace and maintain the French culture, as well as the language.
Similarly, there are more than 20 AQs — many of them new — focused on First Nations, Métis and Inuit educa- tion, all with a goal of maintaining both culture and language in schools. “We’ve developed many reciprocal relationships with aboriginal communities, and aboriginal teacher education programs with elders and speakers,” says Smith. “As a result of this, for the first time in the history of Ontario, we have a First Nations educational institution [Six Nations Polytechnic] offering AQ courses. What this means is we’ll have more First Nations teachers on reserves taking AQ courses because they don’t have to travel [to do so].”
There are more than 20 AQs focused on First Nations, Métis and Inuit education, all with a goal of maintaining both culture and language in schools.
The appeal of AQ courses that focus on distinct cultures or offer more general knowledge through a cultural filter may ultimately be quite broad. “Ontario is such a diverse province and that diversity continues to grow. Cultural knowledge and understanding is imperative for teachers,” says Gallien. “Everyone would benefit from understanding some of the very rich cultural insights found in these courses.”