Consider contributing to the future of education.
By Angela De Palma, OCT
Photo: Matthew Plexman
The final course I completed as part of my Master of Catholic Leadership program studies focused on the ways teachers deliver pastoral care in their work. Educators know that students must have a sense of well-being before active learning can occur, and they regularly respond to that need — often instinctually. Because the well-being of teachers is also important, school and system staff step up to provide it to one another.
My course colleagues included Ontario Certified Teachers working in elementary and secondary schools, serving in positions ranging from guidance counsellor to classroom teacher, principal, Special Education teacher and itinerant teacher. Service is at the heart of the teaching profession in all its individual roles, and is one of its many rewards and challenges. Rewards and challenges tend to have that kind of reciprocity.
Of course, the relationship between OCTs and the act of serving goes well beyond school structures and systems. The notion of assistance and enrichment, in fact, sparked my interest in running for a position on College Council.
Although the College has regulated the teaching profession in Ontario for the past 20 years, I wasn’t familiar with the organization until well into my teaching career. A cautionary note I share with teacher candidates in faculty of education programs during presentations is my regret at not becoming familiar with the College at an earlier stage. I consider myself an engaged member, who, like my OCT colleagues, seeks out ways to develop my ongoing professional learning. And yet the Ontario College of Teachers only recently entered my professional radar.
Confirming that hindsight is everything, my time on Council has proved to be one of the most personally and professionally enriching experiences of my teaching career, securing a place on my “Top 10” professional highlights list.
The benefits of serving on College Council are abundant and reflect the rewards and challenges of teaching. My two terms have allowed me to collaborate with and learn from Council colleagues from diverse backgrounds on issues that are central to the teaching profession. As we ask questions, debate issues and make policy recommendations at Council and committee meetings, we enhance one another’s understanding of board governance and what it means to serve the public interest. If you have ever prioritized the needs of a student, you already have a sense of what the public interest means.
Council helps ensure that Ontario’s teacher education programs are sufficiently robust to prepare new teachers for diverse school communities. We examine the College budget to make sure it reflects — and is sufficient to support — the College’s operational needs, such as Additional Qualification course reviews. We collaborate with College staff to help ensure the College’s mission, vision, values and strategic priorities are appropriately reflected in our work.
The seventh Council has proudly contributed to teaching and leadership on a provincial scale. Soon, this privilege will transition to the eighth Council.
The election section in this issue outlines what College members need to know in order to seek one of 23 elected positions to serve the teaching profession for a three-year term. I encourage you to review it as you consider the opportunity to contribute to the education sector in a unique and valuable way. A video at oct-oeeo.ca/councilelection2018 also provides a snapshot of need-to-know facts about the nomination process. Watch it, reflect, put your name forward, and serve.