Reflecting on some of Council’s many achievements.
By Angela De Palma, OCT
Photo: Matthew Plexman
As the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games played out in Pyeongchang, I was transported back to the summer of 2011. This cruise along memory lane had less to do with Pyeongchang being announced as the host city of the Games, and more to do with fondly recalling the several weeks I spent teaching middle school students in Pyeongchang county.
The experience was both collaborative and enriching. I was in the company of 10 other Ontario educators as well as a group of Korean teachers who observed our practice. We exchanged engagement strategies, compared successes and challenges, and consulted one another on next steps.
During these final weeks of the term of the seventh Council of the Ontario College of Teachers, it’s worth reflecting upon some of its significant achievements before the eighth Council forges ahead. Like the Olympic athletes, the Council has accomplishments that it wears proudly.
The “Governing Ourselves” section of Professionally Speaking (thank you, Editorial Board) is in every issue, and for good reason. The 37-member Council, all 23 elected and 14 appointed members, takes its role of governing the teaching profession in the public interest seriously. This section includes highlights of the business completed at each quarterly Council meeting.
Here, you’ll also find the organization’s mission, vision, values and strategic priorities that frame Council’s decision-making, including decisions about the 2018 election, such as initiatives driven by the Governance Committee to increase member awareness and participation. The committee also set in motion a renewal of the College’s strategic priorities so that the eighth Council will be better prepared to ensure the objectives reflect the College’s mandate and staff can operationalize them and measure success. As an added legacy, an independent review of the organization’s governance practices will provide Council with recommendations to ensure its effectiveness.
Efficacy also characterizes other committees of Council. The Accreditation Committee, for example, amended the accreditation regulation to streamline the process for reviewing changes to accredited programs while retaining its rigour, ensuring that Ontario teacher preparation programs are sufficiently preparing teacher candidates for an increasingly complex profession.
The Investigation, Discipline and Fitness to Practise committees made similar strides forward. By increasing committee and roster membership and piloting a secure electronic document-sharing process with the support of College staff, panels can be formed and complete their work with greater agility. The College’s commitment to strengthening student protection culminated in Council’s amendments to College bylaws pertaining to the Protecting Students Act. Changes include updating the public register, accessed through the “Find a Teacher” search engine at oct.ca.
Supporting teacher leadership is also in the public interest. The Standards of Practice and Education Committee recommended that the Teachers’ Qualifications Regulation be amended to add two First Nations Schools Leaders Additional Qualification courses, expanding ongoing professional learning opportunities for members working with Indigenous students.
I’m grateful to Council, College staff and education stakeholders for the productive collaboration and consultation that has enriched this successful seventh term of Council. I have also appreciated opportunities to engage with members through social media and other means.
It has been a privilege to serve the public interest on a provincial leadership scale for the past three years, and as this privilege becomes entrusted to the eighth Council and a new Council Chair, I look forward to following along as a proud Ontario Certified Teacher. I invite you to do the same.