Recruiting Tech Talent
Technological education partners have a message for auto service technicians, chefs, nurses and other skilled industry workers: Ontario has a severe shortage of Technological Studies teachers. The teaching profession needs you and so does society.
By Helen Dolik
Ryan Wineberg used to get a thrill from a career producing TV commercials. Now, he gets his rush in the classroom.
Theres nothing more satisfying than seeing the light bulb going off in the head of a student, says Wineberg, head of Technological Education at Markville Secondary School in Markham and a Communications Technology teacher.
Wineberg developed the first Communications Technology program for Markville Secondary, where students learn digital video production, digital radio and audio production, and television production.
He created three classroom labs, complete with the latest computer and digital equipment used to integrate curriculum expectations with technology. Students learn and work with various leading-edge and industry standard software applications. He teaches students in a hands-on, practical classroom-lab where students learn by doing.
Enrolment in the popular Communications Technology program has jumped from six per cent of the school population to almost 40 per cent in just three years.
Its rapid growth and popularity are indicative of the value parents and students place on using and learning with technology in todays classrooms, says Wineberg.
The kids are saying we like technology. This is what We want to learn about for our future. This is whats important to us. This is what we see as being valuable to our future.
In 2000, there were 4,712 qualified tech teachers in the province and the Colleges retirement forecast predicts that 37 per centor 1,747will leave the profession by 2005. Fully 58 per centor 2,738 tech teacherswill retire by 2010.
A Ministry of Education survey for a 1998-1999 Task Force on Teacher Renewal showed 48 tech studies vacancies unfilled as of November 30, 1998. The ministry issued 271 Letters of Permission for tech teachers in the 2000-2001 school year and 146 were approved for the 2001-2002 school year as of November 2001.
The award-winning Wineberg serves a role model of what the teaching profession aims to attract. He earned a Radio and Television Arts Degree from Ryerson University in Toronto. Hes produced TV commercials, performed voice-overs in radio and possesses a talent for cartoon voices and accents. His work experience is a bonus when it comes to teaching. He truly knows what makes a good commercial because hes worked on them. Its almost like having a guest speaker whos an expert on something as your teacher.
What drew Wineberg to teaching? The turning point occurred when he worked in the advertising development department at Procter & Gamble. One of his duties included training executives in video production.
I noticed the teaching part was almost second nature, he says. I got a higher level of satisfaction from sharing knowledge rather than just using it.
So he decided to go back to school and earned his Bachelor of Education and Masters of Arts in Education. It was a natural transition for him to come into the classroom.
Should Be Fun
Learning should be fun, he says. It can be hard, it can be difficult, it can be challenging and it can even be stressful, but it should be fun. I like to have fun and the kids do, too. Were a good team, the kids and I, we both want to enjoy what were learning. We learn together.
Wineberg graduated from OISE/UT in 1999 and has been teaching at Markville for three years. His department has five other teachers. In his first year of teaching, the CBC and the Royal Canadian Mint held a national contest inviting schools to produce a TV commercial to combat drinking and driving among teens. The message was dont drink and drive, call a cab. A group of Winebergs students produced an entry as an extracurricular project. They won best commercial in Ontario and fifth-best in Canada. The best part is yet to come.
The Mint came out with a special quarter, the 2000 June Harmony Coin, and gave it to high school graduates in Canada. The point was to use the quarter to call a cab. The Mint decided to launch the coin at Markville Secondary and broadcast the schools commercial live on the web and on CBC television. The coin, which is in regular circulation, features the Queen on one side and a maple leaf on the flip side. But if you look closely, the maple leaf is actually several young people holding hands. The youths are Winebergs students.
They were on cloud nine, says Wineberg, of his forever immortalized students. Thats priceless.
The icing on the cake was that the following year, a group of his students captured the No. 1 spot for best public service announcement T V commercial in Ontario in a different contest sponsored by the Canadian Association for Responsible Gambling.
The York Region District School Board recently recognized his efforts, awarding Wineberg the Technology Incentive Award. Its given to teachers who use exemplary methods of integrating technology and curriculum expectations.
Five Universities Offer Program
There were 142 tech teachers-to-be enrolled at Ontario faculties of education in 2000-2001. Five universities offer Technological Studies teacher education programs: Brock University, Queens University, University of Ottawa, The University of Western Ontario and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (OISE/UT).
The University of Ottawa offers a French-language Technological Studies program. There is no limit to the amount of candidates the University of Ottawa can take into the program but the most Bernard Cousineau, the Technological Studies program co-ordinator, has had is 22 people. We always nlook for candidates, he says.
The university advertises in community papers throughout Ontario. The Tech Studies program portion on the University of Ottawas web site tries to entice potential applicants by asking: Do you wish to transmit the passion you feel for your work to high school students aged 12 to 20 years old, and help them becomen productive members of todays society?
So if any teachers have friends or relatives they think might be interested in a career switch, pass the word around. The faculties of education look for qualified applicants with a passion for technology who have people skills and a commitment to youth. If the person has creative tendencies, it helps. Often people who have done interesting things make interesting teachers, says Brian Perkins, Technological Education administrative assistant in the faculty of education at Queens University. To teach technological subjects, a person doesnt need to have an undergraduate degree. But they must have experience and competence in their field. They need a secondary school diploma, five years of work experience in the technology subject area and the one-year teacher education program.
The Ontario College of Teachers is working with its education partners to address the tech teacher shortage. The College met with representatives from the faculties of education and the Ontario Council for Technology Education (OCTE) to develop a communications strategy for the coming year to recruit well-qualified Technological Studies candidates into teacher education programs. This article in Professionally Speaking, a fall news release and other contact with the media were discussed.
Shop Doors Closing
OCTE is calling for strong, consistent, accountable and sustainable Technological Education programs for all students in Ontario schools. Were racing against the clock, you can hear the shop doors closing all over the province, says OCTE co-chair Michael Scott.
In some cases, you cant even get the doors open, adds John Kish, OCTE cochair. You just cant get tech teachers.
Scott says theres a severe shortage. Salary is often a stumbling block. Starting salaries for teachers range from $30,000 to $35,000. One industry worker told Scott: I pay that in income tax. For others, it can mean a $20,000 or more drop in salary. Some tradespeople earn six-figure salaries.
Technological education underwent a major overhaul in the mid-1990s. The trade-specific focus changed to a broadening of the scope of technological education. Over 50 courses, from auto body to cosmetology, were funnelled into seven broad-based technology areas: Communications Technology, Construction Technology, Hospitality Services, Manufacturing Technology, Personal Services, Technological Design, Transportation Technology.
For more information about Technological Education, visit these web sites:
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