Ever wonder what inspires new AQs? The College and AQ providers keep their ears to the ground and respond to the needs of teachers and students across the province. More French-language AQs? More ways to learn about leadership? Whatever the request, when teachers ask for opportunities to learn and grow, the College and AQ providers take action to make sure professional learning is available when and where it’s needed most.
By Melissa Campeau
Photos: Matthew Plexman, John Ross Robertson Junior Public School
BUILDING TEACHER LEADERS
Last year, the Toronto District School Board became the first provider to offer the new Teacher Leadership specialist program, in three parts. The AQ course helps teachers develop collaborative skills, unpack complex challenges in education, and chart a course of action for implementing positive change in their schools — all through an equity lens. “Another thing that’s critical to leadership is having a strong vision of positive change, and we ask everyone in the course to think about that in a deep way,” says Jennifer Watt, OCT, program co-ordinator for the Toronto District School Board’s teachers learning and leading department.
DEVELOPING FIRST NATIONS SCHOOL LEADERS
OISE/UT’s new First Nations’ School Leader Program AQs (Leadership, and Supporting Indigenous Learning and Holistic Well-Being) are designed to help better understand First Nations culture, history and the impact of the residential school system. “There’s a need to understand the cycle that’s been inflicted on First Nations communities, compounded in many ways, from generation to generation,” says Neil Debassige, OCT, principal (currently on leave) at Lakeview School at M’Chigeeng First Nation.
“There’s a need to understand the cycle that’s been inflicted on First Nations communities, compounded in many ways, from generation to generation.”
“These AQs can help teachers gain a good understanding of context and a deeper knowledge of the perspectives, history and culture of First Nations students, their families and their communities,” explains Debassige.
INDIGENOUS FOCUS TO BUILD A COMMUNITY OF ALLIES
“To me the AQ route seemed like a great opportunity to build community, engage in co-learning and hopefully build allyship,” shares Pamala Agawa, OCT, a vice-principal with the York Region District School Board. That’s why her board now offers the new AQ, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Studies, Part I, II and III.
Agawa and her course co-author (both of whom are Anishinaabe) insisted that Indigenous instructors should teach the courses: “You want to make sure the course has impact, so you need to have someone with a lived experience and who can connect to the work.” She explains: “Through each part of the AQ, the candidates go deeper with their understanding of how they can use their privilege and power to leverage the learning of Indigenous education in their classrooms, buildings and systems.” She has already seen candidates share their work with peers, beyond the AQ setting. “I see them continuing the work, and I know this because they’re active on social media — they’re engaging with their own communities.”
NECESSITY, QUICK ACTION AND RESULTS
In the case of Université Laurentienne’s five new AQs, the collaboration required to get them into the course lineup (and fast!) was in response to a specific community’s needs.
When some internationally educated teachers apply to the College for accreditation, there may be a condition that they need to take between one and five AQs to make sure that they have the professional knowledge and skills to practice in Ontario.
For French-language teachers, providers weren’t offering the required “Schedule C” courses. At the same time, the province was facing a critical shortage of certified teachers for its French-language schools.
The College and Université Laurentienne in Sudbury, Ont., worked out a solution to offer more French-language teachers a way to take the required courses. The university agreed to expedite the development of five new Schedule C AQ courses. The College then prioritized the accreditation process, as well. It’s a quick resolution, through an effective partnership, that will help French-language schools and students across the province.
The College is constantly updating and evolving its AQ offerings. Take a look at these AQ course changes that Council passed in 2018: