Professionally SpeakingThe Magazine of the Ontario College of Teachers
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In this issue


From the Chair

Letters to the Editor

PS News




Governing Ourselves


PS News presents reports on recent College activities and a selection of announcements, events and initiatives in the wider education community that may be of interest to our members.

film festival

Student filmmakers and critics showcased

(Sprockets Logo)Jump Cuts Young Filmmakers Showcase will mark the 10th anniversary of Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children – bringing the creativity and imagination of Ontario's young people to the big screen this April.

Student filmmakers from Grades 3 through 12 who reside in Ontario are invited to submit films in March to take part in the annual festival. Films selected for the festival are eligible for prizes awarded by a jury of film-industry professionals.

In addition, Sprockets Young People's Juries will meet to discuss the films they see and, working collaboratively with other kids, reach consensus on prizes that they will award to films at the April 22 awards ceremony.

The young jurors are selected from children, age eight to 12 years old, who submitted a 100- to 250-word movie review in early February.

Jump Cuts Young Filmmakers Showcase runs April 13 to 22. The showcase includes:

  • a family program for ages three and up
  • film craft workshops
  • a week-long school program for students in Grades 1 through 12, with curriculum links and support material for teachers.

The deadline for submitting films is March 10, 2007.

For details and entry forms visit or call 416-968-FILM.

10th Anniversary


College Council Chairs from the first 10 years: Donna Marie Kennedy (May 1997 to October 2000), Don Cattani (since November 2006), Marilyn Laframboise (May 2003 to November 2006) and Larry Capstick (November 2000 to April 2003)

Appeal Update

College seeks innovative ways to assess refugee's teaching qualifications

The College of Teachers is working with applicant Fatima Siadat, who is a convention refugee from Iran, to develop innovative ways to assess her teaching credentials after Ontario's Divisional Court directed the College's Registration Appeals Committee to rehear her application for certification.

Siadat applied to the Ontario Ministry of Education for a teaching certificate in 1993 and was unable to supply documents proving she met the requirements for certification. The Ministry did not grant her a teaching certificate.

The College applied the same laws and regulations in denying Siadat certification. However, the court concluded that the College's Registration Appeals Committee failed to adequately accommodate Siadat's situation, as required by Ontario's Human Rights Code.

“This is a unique case, and the court clearly wants us to make individualized efforts that recognize the difficulties faced by convention refugees,” Registrar Brian McGowan said.

“Over the years, we have developed a number of flexible approaches to evaluating international teaching credentials. So far, we have not been able to apply any of these to Ms. Siadat's case. The court has told us to try harder and we will. We have some options to suggest and will seriously consider any others that Ms. Siadat and her lawyer propose.

“Regulations governing teacher qualifications in Ontario haven't changed substantially in more than 25 years,” said McGowan. “But, over the last two years, we have developed sweeping recommendations for changes to bring requirements into the 21st century.

“We'll be working with the government over the coming months to implement those changes.

“One of the significant proposals our College Council voted to pursue last September is implementation of prior learning assessment for applicants. This is a very important departure from the strictly credential-based assessment process that we assumed 10 years ago.

“We have been implementing a number of measures that permit us to apply the requirements more flexibly. We have also vastly expanded services to internationally educated teachers, both at the College and through our partnership in Teach in Ontario.

“As the court recognized in the Siadat decision, the College has a duty to protect the public interest.

“We need to be able to assure parents, students and Ontario school boards that the teachers we license have the subject knowledge and teaching qualifications to ensure that students receive the best quality education.

“Applicants must also be able to provide proof that they have the necessary communication skills in English or French to teach effectively.”

College staff meets regularly with immigrant teachers – both individually and in groups – to assist them in providing evidence of qualifications and credentials. The College provides various support and alternatives, including:

  • When an institution may no longer have the academic records for an applicant, the College will accept copies of the applicant's documents and send these copies to the institution to be verified.
  • The College co-operates with embassies or consulates and intervenes on behalf of applicants to obtain documents or confirm their authenticity and to persuade institutions in their homelands to provide documents.

The College is a partner with the Ontario Teachers' Federation and immigrant settlement organizations in Teach in Ontario, which assists internationally educated teachers in meeting language proficiency or other requirements, and in seeking jobs. Teach in Ontario is funded by a grant from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.

In 2006 the College evaluated the teaching qualifications of 3,982 applicants who received their teacher education outside Ontario. Over 90 per cent – 3,626 of them – were granted licences to teach in Ontario.

Since 1997 the College has granted Ontario teaching licences to teachers from more than 100 countries.

online resources

New educational resource bank for Ontario teachers

Teachers now have an online resource bank for classroom materials. The Ontario Educational Resource Bank offers lesson plans, activities, maps, photos, tutorials, assignments, multimedia items and more for kindergarten to Grade 12.

Resources are linked directly to the provincial curriculum. The site already contains more than 4,000 items and will grow as teachers contribute their favourite classroom tools.

Teachers can search by grade, subject, course, strand, overall expectation or key word.

Currently, 55 English school boards have signed up. Their teachers and students can access with a user name and password provided by their board.

Visitors: China

Delegations visit the College to share and gather information on a range of education issues, including accreditation, qualifications and standards of practice.


College staff brief secondary school principals from the People's Republic of China.

standards institute

High praise for revised standards

“World-leading” was the phrase Jack Whitehead used in November to describe the College's recently revised ethical standards and standards of practice. Whitehead, a professor of education from England's Bath University, was addressing Ontario educators during the Living the Standards Institute at the College.

The speaker stressed the need to make these ideals and their implementation more widely known.

“We are creating knowledge,” Whitehead asserted. “We must make that embodied professional knowledge public.”

Noting that practitioner-based research would be central to successful implementation of the standards, he encouraged the development of a culture of inquiry.

He also stressed the importance of passion and energy in teaching and the need to keep those qualities alive in our schools.

Attendees at the two-day institute included teachers, directors, superintendents, principals and consultants from several district school boards – Kenora Catholic, Huron-Superior Catholic, Rainbow, Grand Erie, London Catholic, Dufferin-Peel Catholic, Waterloo, Hamilton Wentworth Catholic and Ottawa-Carleton – as well as faculty representation from Nipissing University and OISE/UT.

By the institute's conclusion, participants had created plans of action for implementation in their own learning communities.


Racism. Stop it!

March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Students between the ages of 12 and 18 have submitted their 60- to 90-second videos in the Racism. Stop it! National Video Competition. The winning videos will be available online.

For educational material, resources or contest information visit


(EcoKids Logo)The Great EcoKids Challenge

Elementary students are invited to enter the national Great EcoKids Challenge. The challenge asks for hands-on projects that demonstrate how to contribute positively to the health of the planet. Activities are expected to develop leadership skills, encourage teamwork and stimulate creativity in young people.

Participants must complete the online application and write a 500- to 1,000-word report on actions taken to improve the health of the environment in their school, home and community. Supplementary material – photos, artwork, poems and newspaper articles – may be included.

Entry deadline is May 11, 2007.

For challenge criteria and project ideas, go to

Arctic excursion

Canadian Geographic's Polar Bound contest offers secondary school students what could be their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the Canadian Arctic in 2007, during International Polar Year (IPY).

Students will explore the eastern Canadian Arctic region, including Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait and southern and eastern Baffin Island, from August 3 to 17. They will see wildlife, visit communities, learn about the effects of climate change on the Arctic ecosystem from the perspective of Inuit and other residents and participate in hands-on educational activities.

Participants may submit an essay or journal item (500 words or less), a poem or a visual entry in film or other media. All participants must answer the online contest question regarding IPY. The deadline is May 5, 2007.

For the contest question and other entry criteria visit

Teachers' Qualification Review

Chair Ian MacLeod of the Association of Education Registrars of Ontario Universities and President Don Rait of the Catholic Principals' Council of Ontario were among the stakeholders who received Preparing Teachers for Tomorrow. The final report on the College's proposed changes to the Teachers' Qualification Regulation is available at


Shades of Brown

The Shades of Brown conference will take place July 8 to 11 at York University. The conference provides educators with a unique opportunity to broaden their understanding of South Asian resources and research.

Ranjit Khatkur, conference organizer, hopes the event will address “the challenges and myths around the lived realities of the South Asian diaspora – both locally and internationally.”

Subtitled Global Perspectives, Challenges, Myths and Promises, the conference will explore ways to integrate the South Asian experience across the curriculum.

The event will bring together resources, role models, research, images, books and experiences to provide educators, youth and the South Asian community with strategies for incorporating these into curriculum, classrooms, policies, administration and leadership.

The conference features separate sessions for parents and students over 14 years old, and three days for educators, administrators, researchers and service providers.

For information and online registration visit


Toronto's first FrancoExpo

Students, teachers, francophones and francophiles will have a great deal to explore in Toronto this spring during FrancoExpo 2007 at Exhibition Place on March 29–30.

Exhibits and presentations will cover fashion and beauty, comedy and music as well as a range of French-language services and career opportunities. Scheduled guests include Justin Trudeau, Bernard Voyer, Tomson Highway and Jean-Benoit Nadeau.

For information visit


Executive Director Mike Benson (far left) and President Blair Hilts (far right) of the Ontario Principals' Council visited the College to discuss a range of issues with College Registrar Brian McGowan, Acting Deputy Registrar Lise Roy-Kolbusz and Chair Don Cattani.

Music Monday

Sing out!

(Logo)On the first Monday in May students will take music stands, instruments and voices outdoors to perform the same song simultaneously from coast to coast.

This year's song was written by Amanda Walther and Sheila Carbine (aka Dala), former students of Toronto's Mary Ward Catholic SS and champions of the Coalition for Music Education in Canada. The coalition, which backs Music Monday, is made up of music professionals and music lovers who want to ensure there are comprehensive, sequential school music programs.

For more information visit

Education Week

April 30 – May 4

Ontario celebrates teaching excellence, student achievement and exceptional community support in publicly funded schools.

For information visit

Policy Overview

Claudia Guidolin of l'Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens and Noel Martin of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association attended the overview presentation of the Transition to Teaching report.


The web address provided for the Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence (page 24, December 2006) was incorrect. The correct address is

Notable Dates


National Nutrition Month

Youth Science Festival Month

8 – Int'l Women's Day

20 – Int'l Francophone Day
Also National Francophone Week, March 9 to 25. and

21 – Int'l Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Marks the 1960 Sharpville killings.

22 – World Water Day

27 – World Theatre Day


Poetry Month

15–21 – National Volunteer Week

22 – Earth Day

April 30 - May 4 – Education Week


Speech and Hearing Month

Museum Month

3 – World Press Freedom Day or

18 – International Museums Day

21 – International Astronomy Day

22-25 – Aboriginal Awareness Week

26 – Active Healthy Kids Day


Deaf-Blind Awareness Month

3–9 – Canadian Environment Week

5 – World Environment Day
The 2007 focus is on polar ecosystems and communities.

20 – World Refugee Day

27 – Canadian Multiculturalism Day

For other international observances visit and click on Conferences & Events to the left of the UN logo, or try