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From The Chair

Focus Group Findings

Focus groups help the College anticipate needs and therefore better serve its members and the public.

By Angela De Palma, OCT
Photo: Matthew Plexman

Photo of College Chair Angela De Palma.

Early in my teaching career I transitioned from a French as a Second Language teacher to a classroom teaching position. For several years, I had the privilege of witnessing the curiosity and excitement a new language ignited in my students, who responded like co-conspirators privy to a secret code.

After teaching “français à la carte” (as my French as a Second Language teacher colleagues and I fondly dubbed the role) travelling from classroom to classroom with instructional resources loaded onto an audiovisual cart, I eventually sought a new challenge. Sharing my appreciation of French language and culture was rewarding, but I was excited at the prospect of becoming a classroom teacher and remaining with the same group of students for a longer span of the school day. When that opportunity arrived, I created a learning space — from the placement of furniture and selection of curriculum resources through to the curating of bulletin board surfaces — tailored precisely for my forthcoming Grade 3 students.

About one week before the first day of school, however, my principal informed me that the composition of my class would change to a combined Grade 2/3 class of 31 students. The results of my careful planning would now need some revisiting and restructuring.

Few, if any, of you are likely surprised by my experience. In fact, many of you can probably recall several examples of situations throughout your career where unforeseen circumstances required your specialized knowledge, skills and yes — patience — to respond to the unexpected. Educators are considered flexible and adaptable for good reason.

A similar comment, in fact, was shared by a fellow Ontario Certified Teacher during a focus group session.

Last summer, the College hosted sessions in six communities across the province to hear from English-language and French-language teachers and parents. We value this input from our members and the public, which helps inform College communications and activities, and builds transparency.

Comments from focus group participants will help guide future enhancements to the College.

The candid and thoughtful observations and comments from focus group participants will help guide future enhancements to the College website, the different channels through which we communicate and the development of new professional advisories. Quantitative and qualitative feedback collated from the sessions reveal:

This feedback helps the College’s 37-member governing Council and College staff act with increased agility and efficiency in its regulatory role of serving the public interest. By better anticipating needs and changes on the horizon, Ontario Certified Teachers and the public can both be better served.

Angela De Palma's handwritten signature.