Registrar’s Report

Beaches and books:
Summer isn’t all vacation for teachers

Summer is a major period of professional revitalization, as evidenced by the thousands of Additional Qualification courses Ontario teachers completed in July and August.

by Michael Salvatori, OCT

The welcome-back season is upon us.

Common signs and symbols herald the return to school: gleaming floors, freshly cleaned blackboards and buffed whiteboards, sparkling computer screens, pristine bulletin boards and new supplies. All signify the return to learning for students and another year of engaging, life-developing opportunities.

This holds true whether you work in a traditional elementary or secondary school, in a school for students who are Deaf or hard of hearing, or in a storefront location that provides supervised alternative learning for excused pupils.

Many teachers return to class with a sense of renewal that people outside education attribute to the two months of “vacation” teachers earn each year. What some may not appreciate is that the energy and recommitment to student learning is often as much the result of ongoing professional learning as it is of rest and recreation.

Over the last four years, College members have completed more than 38,000 Additional Qualification (AQ) courses on average each year. Forty per cent occur during the summer, when teachers take advantage of the break from their full-time duties with students to expand their own learning.

This past summer, English-speaking teachers focused on advanced learning in Special Education, reading, English as a Second Language and religious education. In French, the focus was on Special Education, religious education and the integration of information and computer technology in instruction.

The professional development in which teachers, principals, vice-principals, superintendents and others participate significantly enhances learning for students. Educating one benefits many.

Among other things, they learn specific instructional strategies to accommodate students with unique learning needs. They deepen their knowledge and learn to build the literacy skills of young learners. They strengthen their ability to help new-Canadian students acquire the language skills they need.

Teachers know that the impact of their commitment to professional growth and self-directed learning on student achievement is exponential. In addition to gaining subject knowledge and skills, teachers model joy and enthusiasm for new ways of thinking and doing. Students mimic. They do as they see. A demonstrated love of learning creates a ripple effect in classrooms and schools.

We’re proud of our members’ commitment to professionalism.

We’re proud of our members’ commitment to professionalism and the public confidence in education that it inspires. We also recognize that AQ courses often become the bridge to new jobs and opportunities for those still seeking work.

Many newly certified teachers take AQ courses to better prepare themselves for teaching positions and to improve their job prospects. AQs often serve as the edge that expands skill sets and enhances the learning of newly certified professionals, enabling them to move quickly from their initial teacher preparation program to their induction into the profession.

Some never make it to the classroom, as you’ll see in the article Careers Beyond the Classroom in this issue. But even those educated as teachers who have gone on to careers in broadcasting or business appreciate the strong foundation provided by initial and subsequent teacher education courses.

As the dog days of summer fade, new vistas of student learning begin. They are brightened by our own learning as teaching professionals and by our enthusiasm for ongoing learning.

Let the bells ring loudly, one more sign that a season of new – and ongoing – learning has arrived.

Michael Salvatori, OCT