Preparing tomorrow's teachers
Ontario educators took time this summer to participate in Phase 2 of the College's review of teachers' qualifications. From June through August, those offering ongoing learning programs and various education stakeholders gave their opinions about the structure, delivery methods and relevance of courses and programs.
Since March, the College has been conducting a comprehensive review of the qualifications required to teach, in order to ensure that all members of the profession will possess the skills and knowledge needed for tomorrow's classrooms. The review encompasses all members of the College - in classrooms, administration, faculties of education, teachers' federations and the Ministry of Education.
Phase 1 of the review covered initial teacher preparation, including requirements for admission to BEd programs as well as the nature, structure and length of pre-service programs and practicums. Phase 2 concerns ongoing learning, including additional qualifications and education programs for principals and supervisory officers.
Phase 2 acknowledges the importance of ongoing teacher education and its impact on student learning.
"This review is fundamentally important," says Steve Alsop, Associate Dean at York University. "We have a unique model in Ontario, where teachers and principals take a series of courses. We should celebrate this uniqueness and think creatively about how we can make things better."
Ontario's curriculum and education environment have changed considerably in recent years. We are more aware of different learning styles and appropriate pedagogical methods. Ontario's classrooms reflect the province's cultural diversity and students with special needs are now almost all in regular classrooms. Still, the requirements outlined under Regulation 184/97 - although updated in 1996 - have remained essentially the same since the late 1970s.
For Cathy Geml, Supervisor of Special Education for the Windsor-Essex Catholic DSB, the review is very important because it will help to clarify and address real and varied needs. "We have students in hospital beds and students with learning disabilities are integrated into the classrooms. Teachers want information."
A recently accredited three-part special education course at Geml's board will be mandatory for the administrators and new teachers (within their first five years of teaching). "The class was full within four days and there is a waiting list of 25 teachers."
Sandra Reid, director of the concurrent program at Nipissing University, points to the need to address real issues. "How do you prepare yourself for split grades, for ESL students, for autistic children in the classroom?" she asks.
Educators want flexibility in course choices and delivery. Some want courses in particular areas - methodology for teaching reading and mathematics, computer studies, multi-grade classrooms, Franco-Ontarian identity and classroom management.
Ongoing learning is integral to leadership in education and Phase 2 also examined principals' qualifications.
"A school principal must be the primary pedagogue and model for the school," says Odette Lamontagne, an education officer at the Ministry.
Studies suggest that the capacity of schools to improve learning depends significantly on the quality of leadership. So this will be an important part of the review.
Consideration will also be given to the appropriate integration of the standards of practice and ethical standards, which support teacher training and promote exemplary practice.
Phase 3 begins this fall and considers specific programs - technological studies, teaching for Aboriginal people and for the deaf.
Findings will be presented to the College Council in March. Council will then be able to submit its recommendations to the Ministry of Education.
For up-to-date information on the TQR, visit the College web site at www.oct.ca.
TQR Phase two
It's your turn!
Phase 2 looks at Professional Development.
Your suggestions and questions are an essential part of this review. Please participate.
Visit www.oct.ca by September 30 to complete one or all three questionnaires in the members-area.
We are keen to hear your opinions.