Ontario Certified Teachers are viewed as professionals 24 hours a day. The Chair explores the notion of teacher as a professional and how the College supports it.
By Angela De Palma, OCT
Photo: Matthew Plexman
Several years ago, I had parked my car in the lot of a small shopping area and was heading into an evening yoga class when a call of, “Excuse me, miss,” drew my attention. I turned my head to see two boys who looked to be in their early to mid-adolescence. As I paused, one of the teens asked me quite politely if I could purchase a package of cigarettes on their behalf. They had the money, but needed an adult to make the transaction since they were not of age (the second part of the message was not verbalized but seemed clearly implicit). A variety store was one of several businesses dotting the mall’s facade a few paces away.
The request resonated with me then and continues to now because my response was driven, in large part, by my identity as a teacher — a professional — 24/7. Although I had left the school environment for an after-hours activity, I instinctually remained connected to my teacher role. Without hesitation I replied, “Sorry, I can’t. I’m a teacher.” Those last three words were all the rationale I needed and would have varied little had I been employed as a consultant or a principal, or worked in a different school system or setting.
I tell this story because it speaks to the notion of the teacher as a professional. When the College delivers presentations to faculties of education, this theme often emerges in our discussions with prospective teachers. Their questions to us reflect the responsibilities attached to being an Ontario Certified Teacher (OCT) across the spectrum of teaching roles. “Is it all right to use social media as a teaching tool?” “What should I think about if I’m considering teaching overseas?” “What do I want my students to remember about me years after I’ve taught them?” Such questions shine a spotlight on how teachers are viewed as professionals virtually all hours of the day. Before, during and after the workday. At the gym, within the school walls, while dining at a restaurant.
As the regulatory body for the teaching profession, the College reinforces this strong connection between teacher and professional. The concept of professionalism, in fact, permeates many of our resources. Professional knowledge, practice and ongoing learning, for example, form the College’s Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession. The ethical standards of trust, care, integrity and respect characterize the relationships, commitments and responsibilities our members have as professionals. The College’s professional advisories provide advice to teachers, while a professional learning framework supports the wide range of professional learning teachers engage in throughout their careers.
“As the regulatory body for the teaching profession, the College reinforces this strong connection between teacher and professional. The concept of professionalism, in fact, permeates many of our resources.”
On both occasions when I taught overseas, those conducting placement interviews were keen to know if I was an Ontario Certified Teacher. This was not a coincidence. With the professional designation OCT attached to my name — which serves as a mark of professionalism — nothing is left to chance.