21st century realities

As you know, the teaching and learning dynamic has evolved significantly over the course of the past several decades, from the historic one-room schoolhouse with desks in rows to virtual classrooms, digital resources and schools as a window to our world. One constant: great teaching and great teachers.

It’s why the Ontario College of Teachers places great value in teacher preparation programmes. An historic change was marked this past September on how aspiring teachers prepare for the realities of today’s classrooms.

These aspiring teachers, who are enrolled in the enhanced teacher education programme, which came into effect on 1 September, 2015, have an exciting future as they begin their programme of four academic semesters with a minimum of 80 days of supervised practice teaching. Both the duration of the programme and the practicum have been doubled.

The increased duration has enabled Ontario universities offering teacher education programmes to facilitate the development of Ontario’s new teachers in three broad areas: curriculum, pedagogical and instructional strategies, and the teaching context such as classroom, social, diversity and legal perspectives. Many of these content areas were included in the former programmes, but they have been enriched in the expanded programme.

More specifically, the programme:

  • extends learning time from two semesters to four semesters
  • increases the duration of practice teaching time from 40 days to a minimum of 80 days
  • instructs future teachers on a wider diversity of student needs, including an orientation regarding mental health, addictions and wellbeing.

In addition to expanding the duration of the programme, the number of funded post-secondary spaces in faculties of education in Ontario has been reduced by 50 per cent. This reduction will help address an oversupply of graduates and enable Ontario’s qualified teachers to find employment and begin sharing their passion for learning with Ontario students.

Approximately 9,000 teachers per year have been graduating from Ontario faculties of education over the past several years, despite the fact that there were only approximately 6,000 teachers needed annually.

Moving forward

The Ontario College of Teachers was established in 1997 to regulate and govern the teaching profession, including the certification of teachers. The College accredits more than 50 full and part-time teacher education programmes in 18 university faculties of education in the province.

Based on 10 years of research of newly certified teachers and an extensive review of teacher qualifications, the College recommended significant changes to teacher education programmes in Ontario.

In June 2014, the Ontario’s Ministry of Education, working in partnership with the College, announced plans to lengthen the programme to give future teachers more practical experience and greater exposure to teaching methods that will help teachers support diverse student needs.

As the regulator of Ontario’s teaching profession, the College has been instrumental in the success of the expanded programme. For example, we:

  • provided guidance to the faculties of education about the core components of the programme
  • supported the faculties to develop innovative programmes to prepare teachers
  • provided public accountability by reviewing each of the programmes through the College’s accreditation process
  • reviewed and modified the certification requirements applicants need to meet based on the revised teacher education programme
  • provided information to the public and the profession about the exciting changes.

How does the expanded programme improve learning for students?

We know that students benefit from great teaching and the excellent preparation of teachers. More time for teacher preparation and a reflection of the evolution of teaching and learning in the 21st century and Ontario’s education context will help students to succeed individually and collectively.

The enhanced areas of focus also include:

  • Understanding the content and pedagogy in areas such as literacy, numeracy, science, environment, knowledge of and appreciation for First Nations, Metis and Inuit traditions, cultures and perspectives.
  • Teaching in the Ontario context (e.g. diversity, equity, safe and accepting schools, creation of a positive school climate).
  • Professional relationships (communicating and engaging with teachers, school staff, students, parents, community).
  • Classroom management and organisation.
  • Child and adolescent development (i.e. brain development and understanding student transitions ages 0-21 and grades K-12).
  • Teaching English Language Learners/French Language Learners .
  • Pedagogy, assessment and evaluation for learning for specific subjects (e.g. mathematics, literacy)
  • Special education (e.g. writing Individual Education Plans, mental health).
  • The majority of students in the first cohort of the new programme will graduate in 2017. The College is looking forward to welcoming them into our ever-evolving profession as we continue to set the standard for great teaching.