I was an unqualified teacher once. In South Korea. It was my way of testing the waters to see if I wanted to go to teacher’s college here in Canada when I finally sewed my travel oats (still working on that one).
I didn’t. Because, holy crap, teaching is hard. And you have to really, really, really want to be there.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved my students and I loved the experience overall, but I knew after a year that a teaching career wasn’t for me.
My life is bursting with teacher friends. And I have mad respect for what they do, because the ones I know are the good ones. The ones who really care about the kids, who work hard to create interesting and engaging lesson plans, who spent countless hours coaching and grading homework and just being there.
I know my friends well, and they’re working hard to help their students learn and succeed. But what if you’re not sure? The Ontario College of Teachers can help.
It’s good to know that there’s a governing body to ensure the Ontario public school teachers in my province consistently adhere to professional and ethical standards. The College—aside from licensing qualified teachers—also investigates and resolves complaints, and approves teacher-training programs and those needed to remain current throughout their careers. After all, knowing that our kids are safe at school in the care of qualified professionals should never, ever be a question in any parent’s mind.
If you have a concern, you can of course talk to your school’s administrative team. But I also love the “Find a Teacher” tool on the College’s home page. Type a first, last or full name into the public register and you’ll see any registered teacher with matching names listed. Select the teacher in question, and it pulls up his or her registration number, education history, additional qualifications and notes whether or not s/he’s in good standing. (Side note: I had a fun time looking up my friends.)
Next stop: disciplinary decisions. These are posted in those rare cases that teachers have faced disciplinary action or have limitations placed on their teaching certificates. Just as important, the register lists when no action was required because the claims made against a teacher were unfounded.
There are reasons to celebrate here, too, because the public register shows where your child’s teacher received his or her teacher education and any specialist qualifications, like Special Education, English as a Second Language or Music, to name a few. This is where you’ll find those amazing teachers who are helping set the benchmark, each and every day.
I signed up for The Standard, which is a free e-newsletter, to keep me in the loop about the College’s ethical and professional standards; results from its annual teacher survey about education issues; changing trends in education; and tools and resources for parents (like educational books, apps and websites). It’s hard to be a know-it-all unless I’m armed with the latest information, right?
At the end of the day, I’m happy knowing that there’s someone watching out for my kids. Ensuring they’re in good hands. Ensuring they’re safe. Ensuring they’re getting the best education possible. Ensuring teachers are held accountable to high standards. And ensuring they have the tools they need to do their jobs well.
So I guess what I want to say is, thanks. Because I’m a big fan of excellence, too.
DISCLAIMER: The Ontario College of Teachers compensated me for this post, but the opinions expressed here are (as always) my own.