Our titles may differ and change, but at heart we are all teachers.
By Michael Salvatori, OCT
Photo: Matthew Plexman
One of the most memorable components of my high school English classes was the Shakespeare unit. I can still recall many of the soliloquies that we studied, pondered and analyzed. One of my favourites is from Romeo and Juliet: What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
Juliet is reacting to the notion that as a member of the Capulet family she would not be allowed to associate, let alone love, a member of the rival Montague clan.
As I was speaking with a group of district school board trustees recently about the role of the College, I reflected on the power of names. I began to enumerate the various kinds of members that belong to the Ontario College of Teachers, including elementary and secondary school teachers, principals vice-principals, superintendents, curriculum co-ordinators, directors of education and so on. Why, I was asked, is it called the College of Teachers if the membership is so diverse?
It’s a good question. The vast majority of our members began their careers as classroom teachers before moving on to other roles in education. But, in moving on to other roles, other settings and other daily responsibilities, we remain teachers at heart.
The ethical standards that frame our work as members of the College, whether we are instructing students, communicating with parents, leading a school, developing curriculum support materials or presenting a budget to a board of trustees, remain the same: care, respect, trust and integrity.
“Teacher” does indeed mean one who teaches, but it also connotes professionalism, responsibility and good judgment.
All of us — teachers, consultants, principals, supervisory officers and those in positions at the Ministry of Education, teacher federations and the College — regularly exercise these aspects in our professional practice.
While the settings in which we practise differ and while the title we hold may change, we remain teachers ... We are qualified, competent, caring professionals committed to our ongoing learning.
One of the College’s strategic priorities is to broaden membership engagement in its work and to engage members in non-traditional settings. This includes those working in learning centres, in education departments at museums or art galleries, or in corporate settings developing and delivering training. In fact, College members who responded to our recent Professionally Speaking readers’ survey suggested that we focus more content on members who are not in a traditional classroom teaching position. If you have ideas to help, I’d love to hear from you.
While the settings in which we practise differ and while the title we hold may change, we remain teachers. I also believe the public’s interest and expectations remain the same: we are qualified, competent, caring professionals committed to our ongoing learning.
What’s in a name? An Ontario Certified Teacher by any other title is a qualified, caring professional committed to students and their learning.