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Registrar's Report

Minding our language

The College decodes its terminology to engage members of the profession and the public.

By Michael Salvatori, OCT
Photo: Matthew Plexman

Photo of College Registrar Michael Salvatori.

As I was opening up the cottage for the season, I came across a box containing a collection of one of my childhood treasures — my Hardy Boys’ detective series books. I remember reading each one avidly, sometimes with a flashlight under the covers, long after my bedtime.

Some of my favourite stories were those in which brothers Frank and Joe Hardy had to decipher codes to solve the mystery at hand.

The skills I acquired as an amateur sleuth in childhood have served me well both professionally and personally in a society in which decoding skills are essential.

Case in point: acronyms and education jargon.

In the interest of efficiency, we often use acronyms and abbreviations. However, they sometimes inadvertently create barriers to those unfamiliar with them. I often need to remind myself to check my assumptions, particularly when using acronyms or short forms that may not have universally shared meanings.

Our communication and the specialized language we use as members of the teaching profession is laden with acronyms and terms that are not necessarily intuitive and which erect barriers to communication with parents and the public.

Our efforts to explain terminology clearly and avoid jargon with those outside the profession eases communication, respects others and demonstrates a commitment to building relationships.

Some of my favourite stories were those in which brothers Frank and Joe Hardy had to decipher codes to solve the mystery at hand.
Photo : cover of the 'Hardy Boys Detective Handbook'.

The College is mindful of the terminology specific to professional regulation that we use in our communications and, in particular, on our website at As an organization serving the public interest, we understand that it is essential to engage the public in our work, and that our communication is the most powerful tool for that purpose.

To that end, we hold focus groups with members of the profession and members of the public regularly to receive feedback on our communication. We have an interest in ensuring that information is clear, accessible and useful.

During recent focus group sessions, we learned that “accreditation,” a term referring to the College’s responsibility and authority to review and approve courses and programs of initial and ongoing teacher education, is not intuitive. Comments also suggested that the heading “public” on our website is not the place to which parents would gravitate to find information relevant to them.

In response to this valuable feedback — and in keeping with our commitment to continuous improvement — we are reviewing the language that we use. This includes revamping key terms and headings to facilitate greater access and understanding.

As the College continues to refine its language and communication to inform and to engage members of the profession and the public, I invite your feedback on how we can continue to improve

As for me, I am shelving my Hardy Boy Detective Handbook for the time being. Instead, I am being much more thoughtful about shortcuts and my language in general to make sure my codes are enhancing communication rather than impeding it.

Michael Salvatori's handwritten signature.