Member Survey 2008

Teachers favour professional designation, College poll says

The results of the College’s survey of members are in.

The poll was conducted by telephone during July 2008 – reaching 1,005 Ontario teachers.

survey conducted by COMPAS Inc
article by Brian Jamieson
Illustrations by Huan Tran

Nurses have one. So do engineers, accountants and early childhood educators.

According to a College-commissioned summer poll, the majority of the 1,005 teacher respondents favour instituting a professional designation for Ontario educators.

Two-thirds of survey respondents (66 per cent) strongly support the idea of having a letter designation next to their names to signify that they are teaching professionals. The strongest support comes from those newest to the profession (five years or fewer in service). Why? Because it will increase public respect and recognition and show that teachers have distinct knowledge and skill sets that distinguish them from other professionals, they said.

“It would provide pride in the profession, increase professionalism and make us more motivated,” one member said.

Another added, “It’s appropriate and overdue.”

Teachers are university-educated professionals, respondents said.

“Many other professions do have designations and so to be seen by the public as a professional and equal to other professions – I think it’s important for us to have a professional designation,” said one member.

For the seventh straight year, the College commissioned COMPAS Inc to conduct a telephone survey in July of 1,000 College members chosen at random. The survey is deemed accurate to within 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

However, there were a few reservations about having a professional designation.

It’s a good idea provided it doesn’t drive up costs and member fees, respondents said. “I just don’t really see the purpose,” said one. “I don’t think it would hurt us but I don’t see it helping either.”

One in 10 of those polled were strongly against the notion. “I am not sure if calling a teacher by a different name would change public opinion. I don’t think a few letters at the end of a name would drastically change opinion about teachers’ value and how hard they work.”

Teachers favour a professional designation for many reasons, including:

  • It would signal that the profession has particular knowledge and skills distinct from other occupations.
  • It would reinforce that teachers are equal to other professionals.
  • It would show that teachers take pride in being qualified professionals.
  • It would help to improve public recognition of the profession.
  • It would help to differentiate between teachers and other education providers like early childhood educators or teaching assistants.

Respondents were not uniform in their reasons for opposing a professional designation. The majority of teachers believe that any drawbacks would be minor. The small minority who do not support a designation thought that it would not be a good use of their fees, would not provide a personal advantage and would not make a difference to members or to the teaching profession.

Advisory advice

Members were also asked about the impact of the College’s recent Professional Advisory on Additional Qualifications. Feedback was mixed. Forty per cent didn’t answer this question because they said they didn’t receive or read the advisory or had no opinion. Those with fewer than five years teaching experience said it was more helpful than did veteran teachers.

Asked to suggest themes for useful advisories, members recommended advice on professional development (mentoring, career advancement, job search), classroom management, health and safety in the classroom, bullying, curriculum subjects, Special Education, government regulations, legal issues in teaching, communication with parents, retirement and curriculum planning.

Keen to learn

Half of the survey’s respondents indicated that they plan to take an Additional Qualification course within the next two years. Fully 84 per cent of those with five years experience or less said they’ll take a course. Of those respondents who work outside the classroom, 36 per cent plan to take one.

Special Education and reading top out as the respondents’ probable course choices. Online and traditional in-class courses are the preferred modes of delivery.

Quality rules as the primary decision to take a course, respondents said. Quality of instruction. Quality of assignments and activities. Quality of learning materials. Regarding which courses to take, members said they rely on word-of-mouth advice from colleagues more than other sources, like ads or web sites.

Survey respondents said the College’s web site could be improved by added information on AQ course locations and changes to the courses, and by member feedback.

Facility priorities

When asked what the priority considerations should be when planning a new facility for the College, members answered with a resounding “go green” message.

Teachers want prudence in the stewarding of the College’s funds and management of its environmental policies. When asked without prompting about the most important considerations, respondents volunteered an accessible central location and responsible spending more than other considerations.

When asked to rate a range of issues, 45 per cent of teachers said the College should develop new office space that meets LEED certification, the green-building rating system that requires buildings to be sustainable and to reduce their negative impacts on the environment. Thirty-nine per cent said the College should invest in environmental and energy-conscious materials to reduce long-term operating costs.

Stabilizing the College’s long-term facility costs was key for 87 per cent of the respondents.

Accessibility to public transit was important to 71 per cent, followed by member ownership and equity (62 per cent) and proximity to other education stakeholders (51 per cent).

Membership renewal

After 12 years, the College is reviewing its annual membership-renewal mailing. To support the review, members were asked about their understanding of the purpose of the renewal package, whether they liked receiving a suitable-for-framing Certificate of Registration, and how often they use their wallet-size membership cards.

Respondents correctly identified the renewal package as a confirmation of their current qualifications, membership status, and licence to teach in Ontario’s publicly funded schools and school systems. As well, they said they use the card as a ready reference to their College membership number. Just 13 per cent said they take advantage of its use as a discount card.

Eighty-four per cent said they favour receiving renewal information online so they can print it off at home. Forty-four per cent like getting a suitable-for-framing Certificate of Registration.

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