Development of Professional Standards
Standards of Practice
To fulfill the College mandate in the Ontario College of Teachers Act to establish and enforce professional and ethical standards, the College initiated a five-phase process to establish standards that would be meaningful and relevant to teachers in Ontario. Between March 1997 and October 1999, the standards were created through a process that included research, consultation, analysis and feedback.
The College began research on the standards via literature, bibliographic and Internet searches. Through an examination of standards from Scotland, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, England and the United States, themes related to the teaching profession emerged. However, those themes had to be pertinent to the context of teachers in Ontario.
The College initiated consultations with a significant sample of educational partners to explore the question: what does it mean to be teacher in Ontario? From these consultations themes emerged regarding the teaching profession that were relevant and valid for the Ontario context.
Besides numerous personal and telephone interviews, hundreds of written responses and ongoing dialogues on the College website, 21 focus groups were held along with 26 feedback sessions.
To ensure a representative sample, these sessions occurred in all geographic areas with publicly funded and independent schools, faculty members and French, English and Native school systems.
The College paid careful attention to the diversity of experience, expertise and cultural background of teachers, students, parents and members of the public who participated in these groups. As a result of this research, in July 1998 a draft version of the standards encompassing the following five domains (concepts) emerged:
- commitment to students and student learning
- professional knowledge
- teaching practice
- leadership and community
- ongoing professional learning.
Key elements (examples) were also used to expand upon each of these domains.
More than 800 College members and the public provided feedback to the preliminary draft. As well, 19 more feedback sessions were held across the province.
The College employed a variety of methods for recommendations and responses including:
- reaction (feedback) sheets
- more rounds of interviews
- structured activities with members.
In addition, professional and public organizations provided written briefs. Following this feedback, analysis was undertaken and the document was revised in October 1998.
To determine the validity of the standards, a variety of activities took place that included presentations and case studies. The College website and magazine, Professionally Speaking, featured the revised documents. More than 2,500 people directly involved in creating the standards were also invited to provide feedback.
In the fall of 1999, the College's Standards of Practice and Education Committee received the responses and reports. The responses highlighted the applicability of the standards to:
- initial (pre-service) teacher education programs
- ongoing professional development (in-service teacher education programs)
- Principals' Qualification Programs
- Supervisory Officers' Qualification Programs and
- ongoing teacher learning.
Ethical Standards for the Teaching Profession
Following the methodologies set out for the development of the Standards of Practice, the Ethical Standards for the Teaching Profession were similarly developed through revisiting and reviewing Ontario policy and legislation, codes of ethics from other teachers' organizations across the province, research articles and discussions with knowledgeable people in the field of ethics. Themes were again identified and feedback and draft documents were provided to the College.
Council approved the Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession for inclusion in the College bylaws in February 2000. The Ethical Standards for the Teaching Profession was approved in October 2000.