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Chair's Speaking Notes

September 07 2004

I am here this morning as the Chair of the teaching profession’s regulatory body to applaud the work of Ontario's teachers, the ones who spark dreams, encourage students and help them to reach higher, achieve more and realize their potential.

That's not just me saying that. It's the people of Ontario.

This year, for the first time, the College surveyed the public along with our members to gather their thoughts about the work of teachers, schools and public education. We didn’t go looking for kudos. We weren’t looking to highlight concerns although we heard both.

We simply wanted to provide an opportunity to let the community have its say about education. We wanted to see how community opinions compared with the thoughts of those in the teaching profession itself. And we wanted to share that information with our members and the public.

As you've heard from Mr. Winn, the news is overwhelmingly good.

As a working teacher, I can’t tell you how good it is to hear the public say: You do a good job. Kids are better prepared today than they were a generation ago. You inspire them to work hard, pursue post-secondary education, aspire to reach career goals and to succeed in life.

The data tells us that teachers already have great self-confidence. They are idealistic. But they are also sensitive to perceived judgments and criticisms, particularly from those outside the system.

They want to do the best job they can to prepare their students for all future possibilities. Eighty per cent of the teachers who responded said that helping students to learn and grow was their greatest source of job satisfaction. And they believe they do help and that the education environment is improving. But their confidence will swell again with news that the public is recognizing them for exemplary work.

There can be no doubt that Ontario's students are well served by educators who believe in themselves, in their schools and in the quality of Ontario's education system.

Professionally Speaking , the College's magazine commissioned this annual study because we believe open communication is good for the growth of the profession. We believe our members will find the results interesting. And we believe the data can serve to stimulate dialogue and precipitate action where necessary and where appropriate.

Last year's survey (117 KB) gave us a chance to speak with members directly, to hear their beliefs. The College holds a privileged position of having 193,000 members who represent all education systems in the province. Those who participated in the surveys reflected the thoughts and concerns of English and French members in public, Catholic and independent schools across Ontario.

This year, the magazine went one step further. It asked the public what it thought.

It's one thing to feel you're doing a good job. It's another to have that belief supported by the people you serve.

Differences in opinion on matters such as testing suggest even more reason for open communication and more opportunities for the exchange of ideas between the teaching profession and the public. And this survey clearly indicates that the public wants accountability in public education.

We believe it's important to scan the education environment over time. We think its important to record moods and identify trends in thinking that affect teachers as professionals.

It was another College research initiative our Transition to Teaching study of first and second year teachers that underscored the difficulties faced by new teachers entering the profession and put them at risk of dropping out within their first five years. That led to further research and recommendations to the government that it create mandatory support programs, including mentoring, for newly certified teachers.

The College has also been active in support of provincial recruitment campaigns for teachers in high need areas such as math, science, computers, French, and tech studies. We conduct this research in response to and in partnership with various education stakeholders, including school boards, faculties and the Ministry of Education.

And we are continuing in this vein by exploring ways to attract more men to the teaching profession in direct response to needs expressed by school boards.

The College works in the public interest to ensure that the people it certifies to teach Ontario's students meet the province's high practical and ethical standards for teaching professionals. We will continue to stimulate dialogue among education’s various partners that results in changes that improve teaching and learning.

Knowing what educators think and feel about the work they do is important. We think it is also important to monitor public perceptions.

The story today coinciding with the high hopes and expectations of students and parents on the first day of school is hopeful. Ontario's educators can take pride in jobs well done and know that the public believes in them and supports them.

Thank you.

We welcome your questions.

101 Bloor Street West, Toronto ON, M5S 0A1, P: 416.961.8800 / Toll Free (Ontario Only): 1.888.534.2222 / F: 416.961.8822 / info@oct.ca

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