Ontarians can be particularly proud of the College’s work in 2015. Highlighted by our leadership in helping to launch the Enhanced Teacher Education Program (ETEP), to issuing professional advice on the duty to report, the Ontario College of Teachers continued to support teachers as lifelong learners and to assure the public that teachers as professionals continue to grow, develop and learn.
ETEP has resulted in fundamental changes in teacher preparation. It’s now a four-semester, BEd program that includes twice as much practise-teaching time. Moreover, the curriculum reflects the challenges and realities of today’s classrooms. In addition to increased depth in core subjects such as mathematics, there’s greater focus on wellness and mental health, building relationships with students, parents and communities, and integrating technology into learning.
Working closely with Ontario’s faculties of education, the College created an accreditation resource guide to support an understanding of new elements in the enhanced program. The guide complements requirements in the Accreditation of Teacher Education Programs Regulation.
Accordingly, Council amended the Teachers’ Qualifications Regulation to reflect changes required by ETEP’s implementation, including permitting applicants who had completed a one-year program prior to September 1, 2015, to use the College’s Schedule Additional Qualifications to satisfy a condition relating to insufficient program duration.
Consultation and communication also played a significant role in the development and launch of our professional advisory about a member’s duty to report when they suspect that a child is the victim of abuse or neglect. The advice enhances members’ professional judgment across the province. As a College, it is our legal and ethical duty to provide such advice to our members.
Developed with input from College Council, College members and staff, education stakeholders, child protection services and police services, the advice addresses the who, what, when and how of reporting. The information, mailed directly, enables our 243,204 members to recognize the signs of abuse and neglect, report suspicions immediately, and reflect to ensure that they have done all they can to protect children. Council approved the advisory in June. The rollout for the advisory included stakeholder briefings and media events in Ottawa, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Windsor and St. Catharines. We were joined in the sessions by representatives from local children’s aid societies and police services to examine possible barriers to reporting child abuse and neglect.
Teachers know that understanding precedes action. The Enhanced Teacher Education Program and the professional advisory exemplify our efforts to enhance member knowledge, understanding and judgment. But they are not the only examples.
In 2015, we made gains in public awareness with an initiative that included radio and online advertising along with blogs, visits to half of Ontario’s 72 district school boards, and connections at community events. Based on our participation at these events, subscriptions for our quarterly electronic newsletter, The Standard, increased 100 per cent in the first nine months of the year. As well, over 40 early learning centres requested more than 13,500 of our English and French brochures to hand out.
We also streamlined processes and procedures. Our smartphone app for members was updated to provide, among other features, greater ease and ability to exercise professional judgment by using it to vote in the 2015 Council election.
Providers can now update Additional Qualifications offerings in real time for the benefit of members seeking additional learning opportunities. There are over 370 courses to choose from and they are available online and at 37 locations across the province. Each year, our members take more than 37,000 such courses to respond to student needs, better connect with students, develop a new skill or explore another area of learning entirely.
We also improved our online application process to make it easier for applicants to track the progress of their application by looking at the application status page.
To ensure that they stay abreast of new developments, we began work on a tablet application for members in the fall and, throughout the year, increased our use of social media to communicate with members and the public via electronic newsletters, Twitter and Facebook.
We continued our work on a multi-year plan to improve accessibility in compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. This included creating and updating video information to add closed captions and subtitles for those who can see but cannot hear, and audio descriptions for those who can hear but cannot see.
Internally, we enhanced technology to improve workflows and to complement changes to the online application process.
In its ongoing review of operations, Council’s Quality Assurance Committee found that the College put the new processes and streamlined procedures to good effect to help meet its mandate effectively and efficiently.
Significant to our work within the College and in its ongoing governance was the election of our seventh Council. Voting for the 23 Council seats began on March 2 and ended on April 7. To further assist members, the College developed an online form to help them self-assess their eligibility to seek office. As well, the College created an application to enable members to vote on their mobile devices, for the first time in our history.
Thanks to the election, we had a number of people who ended and began their Council service in 2015.
Those who served on Council until June 30, but departed following the election included: Stefanie Achkewich, OCT; Alexander (Sandy) Bass, OCT; Evie Basztyk-Benishek, OCT; Christine Bellini, OCT; Merzak Damou, OCT; Irene Dembek, OCT; Gale Dores, OCT; Marc Dubois, OCT; Jacqueline Gray, OCT; Allyn Janicki, OCT; Mary Lou Mackie, OCT; Adannaya Nwaogu, OCT; Liz Papadopoulos, OCT; Louis Sloan, OCT; Kara Smith, OCT; and Demetri Vacratsis, OCT. E. Clyde Glasgow, OCT, saw his term of appointment end as of June 24, 2015, and Monique Lapalme Arseneault’s term expired on June 18.
Following the election, we were pleased to welcome: Brian Beal, OCT; Irene Cheung, OCT; Ann Ciaschini, OCT; Susan Elliott-Johns, OCT; Tim Gernstein, OCT; Shannon Marcus, OCT; Richard Michaud, OCT; William Ngassam, OCT; Sara Nouini, OCT; Rob Ryan, OCT; Anthony Samchek, OCT; Jennifer Stewart, OCT; Stéphane Vallée, OCT; and Nicole van Woudenberg, OCT.
In addition, we welcomed three new appointed members: Tom Potter (as of July 22), Jane Ishibashi (as of August 25), and Marie-Thérèse Hokayem (as of September 8). We also welcomed two elected members as of October 15: Brigitte (Bidal) Piquette, OCT, and Ravi Vethamany, OCT.
Several Council members’ service straddled the sixth and seventh Councils. These include: Jean-Luc Bernard, OCT; Shabnum Budhwani; Marie-Louise Chartrand; Monique Châteauvert (until July 8); Angela De Palma, OCT; Elizabeth Edgar-Webkamigad, OCT; Dobi-Dawn Frenette (until December 18); Robert Gagné; Godwin Ifedi; Matthew Kavanagh, OCT; Shanlee Linton, OCT; Myreille Loubert, OCT; Bill Petrie; Terry Price, OCT; Vicki Shannon, OCT; Wes Vickers, OCT; Ronna Warsh; and Marie-Claude Yaacov.
The inaugural meeting of the new Council was held on July 6 with 14 newly elected members. There were two vacancies for the Northeast Region during the election. Brigitte (Bidal) Piquette, OCT, and Ravi Vethamany, OCT, subsequently filled those positions. Seven elected members were returned to Council.
Council approved guidelines to help its members identify potential and actual conflicts of interest, bias and perceived bias. Further, it amended College bylaws to specify the Finance Committee’s role to serve as the College’s Audit Committee to review the annual audit scope, fees and findings.
Through prudent management and a late-year surge in new member fee payments, the College had an operating surplus of $1,137,174 on a 2015 operating budget of $40,741,300. Council kept the annual member fee fixed at $150. Just over 4,800 members applied to the College before the Enhanced Teacher Education Program came into effect, bringing the total membership to 243,204 for the year.
A Year of Achievement
In March, Ontario Minister of Education Liz Sandals addressed Council. She praised the College for championing the teaching profession and for supporting recommendations of the Jeffrey Baldwin inquest with respect to members’ duty to report suspicions of child abuse and neglect.
Council continued to receive reports from its Public Interest Committee touching on topics such as professional development and currency, Temporary Letters of Approval, Letters of Permission, the development of professional advisories and the accreditation process.
In June, Council officially extended a pilot to continue to welcome public presentations at its quarterly meetings. The Executive Committee was directed to review and make recommendations about the initiative in June 2017.
To ensure that Council members remain current in matters related to educational and other legislation that affects their roles, Council approved creating a process for ongoing professional development. As well, it was decided that, where feasible, Council use software to record, tabulate and report every vote at a Council meeting in its minutes. The College adopted eSCRIBE as the standard software to facilitate meeting document access and voting. Consequently, Council members were able to access the software regardless of their location.
Council recommended to the Minister of Education that she amend the Election of Council Members Regulation to reflect the creation of a Governance Committee to replace Council’s Nomination and Election committees.
Council also approved a corporate donation policy for the College’s scholarship program. We were pleased to present Emily Runstedler with the Joseph W. Atkinson Scholarship for Excellence in Teacher Education, Alexis de la Torre with the Ontario College of Teachers Primary/Junior or Junior/Intermediate Scholarship, and Nadine Wyczolkowski with the Ontario College of Teachers Intermediate/Senior Scholarship.
The College identified the removal of Social Insurance Numbers (SIN) from its business practice as an organizational priority. Looking forward, we will continue our work with other stakeholders to stop all use of SIN as a unique identifier in data transfers.
Finally, we revised and renewed our presentation to Ontario’s faculties of education using a cloud-based software and storytelling tool. The resulting eye-catching presentation focuses on five areas: professionalism and what it means, regulation and self-regulation, where the College fits in education, the College’s role, and services and support for College members.
The College’s work to set the standard for great teaching continues to grow and evolve. Our priorities are clear:
- facilitate the ongoing professional learning of members
- broaden member engagement in the College
- enhance Council and committee effectiveness
- develop a long-term communications plan to inform the public, improve transparency and work with other regulators to develop a public appreciation of the value of self-regulation.
This cannot happen without the visionary direction and leadership of our Council, the commitment, drive and creativity of our staff, and the generous assistance of our many partners. To one and all, I am grateful.
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