It’s been a year of milestones for the College, College Council and the teaching profession.
News of the enhanced teacher education program that will significantly change how teachers are educated and the Protecting Students Act that reinforces the College’s continuing efforts to streamline its investigation and discipline processes made headlines in 2013. These are defining moments to be sure.
But what stands out in my mind for the year was the collaboration and partnerships that occurred throughout 2013 and a significant, two-day meeting in early October with my colleagues.
For the first time in College history, College Council members and senior College staff met to establish a mission statement, a vision, values and strategic priorities for this organization. It was a meeting of minds of the people who set policy for the College and the senior staff involved in the operation of the organization.
The work we accomplished will set the course for the College for the next three years. It demonstrated the power of participation of Council and staff to work together to create a framework for the College’s future.
It’s a new direction for the College and it’s positive. We’re embarking on a path to better governance to strengthen the teaching profession’s privilege to self-regulate.
Self-regulation recognizes the maturity of our profession and honours the special skills, knowledge and experience that Ontario teachers possess.
We focused on governance, accountability, strategic thinking, action planning, and communication and transparency. We received input from our partners in education. Details are shared in the June 2014 issue of our magazine Professionally Speaking.
Part of the College’s framework for the future includes our new public awareness initiative “Setting the Standard for Great Teaching.” The initiative is designed to make the public aware that the College exists and to explain what we do. We’re telling people who we are and what we do, that we’re here to protect the public interest and, most importantly, how highly qualified Ontario’s teachers are.
Our communication initiative is more than just ad buys – it’s about creating a voice for the College in the crowded education sector. Our mandate actually requires us “to communicate with the public on behalf of the members of the College” and Council has made this a priority.
This initiative expands the outreach we already do and contains a comprehensive print, radio and online communications program.
Meanwhile, I don’t recall a time when so many changes were happening in so many different areas of the teaching profession. Plans are ramping up for the new enhanced teacher education program. The College has been a lead partner in this new program that will better prepare teachers for their classrooms. In fact, the program is based on recommendations Council made to the government.
Starting in 2015, the teacher education program will double from two to four semesters and increase the practice teaching time from a minimum of 40 to 80 days. The program will include a sharper focus on equity and diversity, meeting the needs of students with special needs, students’ mental health and well-being, and teaching with technology among other core elements. Council’s Accreditation Committee will play a critical role in ensuring the enhanced programs are properly accredited.
In September 2013, Education Minister Liz Sandals introduced Bill 103, the Protecting Students Act, to the Ontario legislature. The bill contains the most significant amendments to the Ontario College of Teachers Act since the College was formed in 1997.
We’ve already made great strides to improve transparency and efficiency, and the proposed legislation reinforces these efforts. For teachers, the improved efficiencies mean that matters will be dealt with in a timelier manner. More and more these days, society is demanding transparency, communication and accountability from organizations.
It’s important to note that the proposed Act is consistent with advice College Council provided to the government in response to an independent review by former Ontario Chief Justice Patrick LeSage. Since the report was released in June 2012, Council has moved forward to implement the recommendations.
These are a few ways the College and its Council are working to strengthen self-regulation.
Strengthened by the work we accomplished in 2013, the College continues to move forward to build public trust in our profession.
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