In my first year of secondary teaching, the average experience across the province was
about three years. The small number of experienced teachers were stretched to capacity in
their efforts to teach their own classes well and coach us as we struggled to find our
We clearly need to deal better with not only the induction of new teachers, but with
helping experienced teachers adjust to the huge variety of changes occurring within the
Tim Ralph, a teacher from Whitby, wrote a thoughtful comment on my last column. He made
the point that I had concentrated solely on the ongoing professional learning needs of
secondary teachers. Very true I was focussed on the proposed new guidelines for the
His point was that elementary teachers are facing just as significant a curriculum
shift and that they also have needs which should be addressed with some urgency. And of
course the shift involves much more than curriculum. Some of the reorganization reaches
into the heart of what the school is in a democratic society.
The College encourages school districts to allocate both time and resources to staff
development, but as they struggle with what the funding formula really means, professional
learning for teachers easily disappears from boards agendas. Both you and the
College must provide constant reminders that the availability of appropriate professional
learning is crucial to the successful implementation of change.
Teachers must also play a major role in defining the learning they require. Its
clear from elementary teacher responses to the EQAO questionnaire that programs which
reinforce knowledge of the content of the mathematics and science curriculum would respond
better to teachers needs than methods courses.
The new science and technology guideline may require updating of content knowledge to
quite a sophisticated level. But a single university credit in science wont cut it.
How can teachers and our professional College play a useful role in the design of
appropriate programs to meet the real needs of teachers? The current system, tied in large
part to the universities, has difficulty in meeting emergent needs since it must
legitimately meet the requirements of academia, which may or may not match those of
teachers in the field.
Not this year but soon we must have a better answer for the profession
and the public than the current random selection.
Two College committees Standards of Practice and Education, and Accreditation
are identifying some of the areas of concern as they go about their work this year.
College staff are also examining the issues as they track the development of the new
Who knows, in the near future you may be able to connect to the College web site, check
out the offerings of accredited PD providers and register for a course via the site. The
problem of geography in terms of access to programs is more intractable, but creative
minds will resolve that.
In the meantime, the College staff wish you clear sailing through the turbulent waters
of the next few months, and another successful school year. And to our new members,
welcome and our best wishes as you embark on your career in teaching.