Next to parents themselves, a school teacher is typically one of the most significant influencers that young children are exposed to on a regular basis. It makes sense then that parents should have the ability to be informed about those who are assigned to guide their children through each grade and stage of their lives.
In our own family, the importance of teacher selection is especially poignant when it comes to the needs of one of my sons who is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Last year his 4th Grade teacher was someone who brought innovative ideas to the classroom and took a deep, personal interest in not only the educational needs of my son but his personal and developmental needs as well. The end result was a remarkable year where my child developed more than during any previous year he had been in school.
Three of my children have unique Individual Education Programs or IEP’s prepared for them as they each require some unique accommodations in order to maximize their learning potential. A key component of an IEP is an ongoing dialogue with their teachers and through these experiences we have come to learn a lot about the teachers assigned to them. We’ve always found the added insight and knowledge to be helpful to us as parents, but only recently did I learn of the fact that information about the skill sets and background of anyone who teaches in a publicly funded school in Ontario is readily accessible online to all parents and the general public.
While I have always known that all teachers in Ontario must be licensed to teach, I only just was made aware of the fact that the regulatory body which is responsible for this is the Ontario College of Teachers
The Ontario College of Teachers was established in 1997 to allow teachers to regulate and govern their own profession in the public interest. Teachers who want to work in publicly funded schools in Ontario must be certified to teach in the province and be members of the College.
- Ensures Ontario students are taught by highly qualified teachers who adhere to clear standards of practice and conduct.
- Sets ethical standards and standards of practice
- Issues teaching certificates and may suspend or revoke them
- Investigates and hears complaints about members
- Accredits teacher education programs and courses.
The College is accountable to the public for how it carries out its responsibilities. The Ontario College of Teachers is not the same as teachers college – or teacher education programs – which is an educational requirement of teaching.
A similar example to what the College is in other professions would be the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada or the Ontario Securities Commission.
One of the most interesting aspects of the College is that through their website the public can find the qualifications, credentials and current status of every College member on their public register of members through their Find a Teacher web portal.
To increase public awareness of its role, the College began an outreach program to create a higher profile. Part of the approach has been to reach out to parenting writers such as myself and to that end, I told them I would be happy to write this piece in an effort to enlighten and inform others.
Another part of the overall outreach strategy of the College includes a quarterly newsletter which is designed to go out to parents and members of the public or media. Called ‘The Standard’, this newsletter is free and is available simply through the completion of an online subscription.
Given the importance that teachers play in the lives of our children, it’s certainly good to know of the existence of a regulatory body that is not only willing to participate in a two-way dialogue with parents and other interested parties, but is now going out of their way to make us aware of who they are.
More about the Ontario College of Teachers can be found by visiting http://www.oct.ca.