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From The Chair

Answering to Your Name

Names contain meaning, contributing to who we are.

By Angela De Palma, OCT
Photo: Matthew Plexman

Photo of College Chair Angela De Palma.

What is it about names that make them resonate with such impact? Scores of books, articles and websites are devoted to the art of selecting the right name for a newborn, a pet, a business or a web domain. Products capitalize on the power of names by inviting consumers to personalize labels, averting risks associated with grabbing the wrong bottle of water or jar of Nutella hazelnut spread.

Chances are good that as an educator, the names of many students spring to mind, with at least one that evokes the personality or unique qualities of the corresponding child. When that name pops up years later outside of its original context, the former student’s face — and one or more anecdotes from your encounters with the student — immediately surface.

Names resonate with us so much, in fact, that they are believed to contribute to who we are. Consider how much time is spent deciding on a username or Twitter handle, for instance.

This might explain why when we add something to our name — a title, professional designation or a degree — it’s likely with intention and often with pride. I’m already looking ahead to the not-too-distant future when I’ll be entitled to attach “MA” to my name. I’ve devoted five years to a master’s degree on a part-time basis, and with convocation scheduled this autumn, I’m looking forward to adding these letters after my name and declaring my studies officially complete.

So, when I presented to an auditorium filled with more than 100 teacher candidates entering their first week of the Enhanced Teacher Education Program at a faculty of education, their excitement was contagious and familiar. After all, these students were entering their professional program years, en route to becoming Ontario Certified Teachers.

From the outset of their professional journey, these teacher candidates would be conscious of where their studies and practicum placements would eventually lead them. Such thoughtful planning had not gone unnoticed; one teacher candidate in the audience asked when she would be allowed to put “OCT” after her name. Good question — it’s once she is licensed with the College.

The OCT designation attests to students, parents and the public that you apply knowledge and skills specific to teaching, and engage in ongoing professional learning.

While professional designations differ from profession to profession, they share the characteristic of signalling an individual’s distinct knowledge and skills. The OCT designation attests to students, parents and the public that you apply knowledge and skills specific to teaching and engage in ongoing professional learning. It’s a virtual “shout-out” that you belong to a community of highly educated and trusted professionals whose practice is grounded in established standards of practice and ethical standards.

The years I’ve spent pursuing a master’s degree will culminate this fall in having “MA” added to my name. Until then, I’ll continue to attach “OCT” with the same sense of pride, feeling privileged to be in the company of respected and caring practitioners fostering the successes of Ontario students.

Angela De Palma's handwritten signature.