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Your Professional and Ethical Standards

Ethical standards, standards of practice and the professional learning framework describe what it means to be a member of the teaching profession in Ontario. They articulate the goals and aspirations of a teaching profession dedicated to fostering student learning and preparing Ontario students to participate in a democratic society.

Foundations of Professional Practice

Foundations of Professional Practice articulates the high standards that the teaching profession sets for educators in Ontario, bringing together three documents that form the foundation for the self-regulation of the teaching profession in Ontario: The Ethical Standards for the Teaching Profession describe the professional beliefs and values that guide the decision-making and professional actions of College members in their professional roles and relationships.

The five interdependent domains of the Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession describe the continuum of knowledge, skills and professional practices of College members.

The Professional Learning Framework for the Teaching Profession presents a variety of ways College members may pursue opportunities for ongoing professional learning.

Professional standards that guide and reflect exemplary teaching practice and continuous professional improvement are essential to effective teaching and learning. The College has fostered the development of these professional standards to support exemplary teaching in Ontario.

The Ethical Standards for the Teaching Profession, Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession and Professional Learning Framework for the Teaching Profession outline the principles of ethical behaviour, professional practice and ongoing learning for the teaching profession in Ontario.

Foundations of Professional Practice

Foundations of Professional Practice articulates the standards that Ontario teachers embrace as their professional foundation.

College members use the standards to reflect on their own development as teaching professionals and inform their practice and ongoing learning choices.

The complete Foundations of Professional Practice can be found on the College web site at www.oct.ca - Publications - College Communications.

Ethical Standards for the Teaching Profession

The Ethical Standards for the Teaching Profession represent a vision of professional practice. At the heart of a strong and effective teaching profession is a commitment to students and their learning.

Members of the Ontario College of Teachers, in their position of trust, demonstrate responsibility in their relationships with students, parents, guardians, colleagues, education partners, other professionals, the environment and the public.

The ethical standard of Care includes compassion, acceptance, interest and insight for developing students’ potential. Members express their commitment to students’ well-being and learning through positive influence, professional judgment and empathy in practice.

The ethical standard of Trust embodies fairness, openness and honesty. Members’ professional relationships with students, colleagues, parents, guardians and the public are based on trust.

Intrinsic to the ethical standard of Respect are trust and fair-mindedness. Members honour human dignity, emotional wellness and cognitive development. In their professional practice, they model respect for spiritual and cultural values, social justice, confidentiality, freedom, democracy and the environment.

Honesty, reliability and moral action are embodied in the ethical standard of Integrity. Continual reflection assists members in exercising integrity in their professional commitments and responsibilities.

Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession

The Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession provide a framework of principles that describes the knowledge, skills and values inherent in Ontario’s teaching profession.These standards articulate the goals and aspirations of the profession.They convey a collective vision of professionalism that guides the daily practices of members of the Ontario College of Teachers.  

The standards of practice include five statements about students and student learning, professional knowledge, professional practice, leadership in learning communities and ongoing professional learning.

Commitment to students and student learning

Members are dedicated in their care and commitment to students.They treat students equitably and with respect and are sensitive to factors that influence individual student learning. Members facilitate the development of students as contributing citizens of Canadian society.

Leadership in learning communities

Members promote and participate in the creation of collaborative, safe and supportive learning communities. They recognize their shared responsibilities and their leadership roles in order to facilitate student success. Members maintain and uphold the principles of the ethical standards in these learning communities.

Ongoing professional learning

Members recognize that a commitment to ongoing professional learning is integral to effective practice and to student learning. Professional practice and self-directed learning are informed by experience, research, collaboration and knowledge.

Professional knowledge

Members strive to be current in their professional knowledge and recognize its relationship to practice. They understand and reflect on student development, learning theory, pedagogy, curriculum, ethics, educational research and related policies and legislation to inform professional judgment in practice.

Professional practice

Members apply professional knowledge and experience to promote student learning. They use appropriate pedagogy assessment and evaluation, resources and technology in planning for and responding to the needs of individual students and learning communities. Members refine their professional practice through ongoing inquiry, dialogue and reflection.

Professional Learning Framework

The Professional Learning Framework for the Teaching Profession outlines opportunities for ongoing professional learning for members. The framework provides for this growth and development through the identification of accredited pre-service and in-service programs of professional teacher education and a wide range of other learning opportunities.

Professional learning may take a variety of forms. Following their pre-service training, members of the College may complete courses or programs that are identified in the Teachers’ Qualifications Regulation, made under the Ontario College of Teachers Act. These courses or programs are accredited by the College and offered by approved providers. When a member successfully completes one of these courses or programs, it is recorded on the member’s Certificate of Qualification and Registration.

Members of the College stay current and up to date in many ways beyond completing Additional Qualification courses and programs. Examples of professional learning opportunities are identified in this document. Educators can participate in or facilitate professional development activities, mentor colleagues, join professional networks, engage in research activities, and read books and articles about educational issues.

Professional learning is at the heart of teacher professionalism. In addition to the accredited in-service programs, Ontario certified teachers engage in a wide variety of professional learning to improve their practice and enhance student learning. All of these opportunities are an integral part of the professional learning framework. Educators participate in learning opportunities offered by their employers, the Ministry of Education, faculties of education, professional organizations, federations and subject associations. Through this professional learning, College members demonstrate a commitment to continued professional growth.

By developing the Professional Learning Framework for the Teaching Profession, the Ontario College of Teachers meets its legislated mandate to “provide for the ongoing education of members of the College.” It also informs the public of the many ways educators remain knowledgeable and current.  

The professional learning framework:

  • acknowledges the commitment members of the teaching profession make to professional learning
  • highlights a range of options to improve practice and enhance student learning
  • identifies programs and professional learning activities accredited by the College
  • assists members of the College to identify, collect, reflect upon and celebrate their learning experiences and accomplishments
  • assures the profession and the public that members of the College have the opportunity through professional learning to remain current throughout their careers.

The professional learning framework supports the following principles:

  • The goal of professional learning is the ongoing improvement of practice. Teacher learning is directly correlated to student learning. The professional learning framework encourages learning activities based on provincial legislation and policy, system needs, personal-growth needs and student learning needs. The framework also encourages members of the College to identify and pursue their strengths and personal interests to further their professional learning.

  • Standards-based professional learning provides for an integrated approach to teacher education. All programs and professional learning activities accredited by the College must be designed to support the Ethical Standards for the Teaching Profession and the Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession.

  • Exemplary professional learning opportunities are based on the principles of effective learning. The framework takes into account individual career and personal priorities. It outlines professional learning activities that are varied, flexible and accessible to members of the College.

  • Teachers plan for and reflect on their professional learning. Responsible lifelong learning is continuous learning that is initiated by members of the College and directed and reviewed by them on an ongoing basis.

  • Learning communities enhance professional learning. The professional learning framework encourages collaboration. It supports ongoing commitment to the improvement and currency of teaching practice as an individual and collective responsibility. 

Professional learning outlined in legislation

The Teachers’ Qualifications Regulation defines the teacher education programs that are currently recognized by the Ontario College of Teachers. The regulation is made under the Ontario College of Teachers Act.  

The College Council approved important changes to the Teachers’ Qualifications Regulation that came into effect in May 2010. The revised regulation is the culmination of four years of extensive review, consultations and work with our education partners and flows from the recommendations of the College’s 2006 study Preparing Teachers for Tomorrow.

Recommendations emerged from our consultations about preparing teachers for the classrooms and the continuing education programs that were needed to enhance teachers’ professional skills and knowledge. This includes the introduction of a new group of 64 courses in technological education and a new three-part kindergarten course.

Other opportunities for professional growth and development

The challenge for members of the College today is to maintain and extend their professional knowledge and skills in a rapidly changing educational environment.

Educators engage in many forms of professional learning. The range of opportunities reflects the complexity of the teaching profession and identifies ways that educators remain current in their practice.

Professional Growth Opportunities 

These opportunities might include but are not limited to:

Academic Programs
Currently, the Certificate of Qualification and Registration includes only completed degree programs. Members of the College may choose to:

• participate in programs or courses offered through universities, colleges or other institutions or organizations that do not always lead to academic degrees.

These programs may be prerequisites to enrolment in the certification programs listed in the Teachers’ Qualifications Regulation.

Professional Networks
Members of the College may choose to:

  • partner with business, industry, colleges and universities
  • contribute to subject councils, the work of the federations or other professional organizations
  • participate on school-based committees
  • serve on a local school community committee or school council.
Mentoring and Networking
Members of the College may choose to:
  • serve as associate teachers
  • become involved in a mentoring partnership
  • learn with colleagues through co-operative planning and problem solving
  • form study groups.

Learning through Practice
Members of the College may choose to:

  • develop and implement curriculum materials
  • participate in school-based collaborative inquiry
  • implement a new instructional or assessment strategy
  • conduct and publish action research projects
  • pilot new initiatives individually or with colleagues.

Research Activities
Members of the College may choose to:

  • inquire into teaching practice
  • plan and conduct research activities to enhance teaching and learning
  • work collaboratively with others to contribute to the knowledge base of teaching and learning
  • explore ways to access and use education research.

Professional Activities
Members of the College may choose to:

  • maintain a professional portfolio
  • arrange opportunities to observe exemplary practice
  • stay current by reading educational books and journals
  • share ideas and resources with colleagues
  • participate in curriculum writing and/or assessment projects.

Professional Contributions
Members of the College may choose to:

  • participate in, present at, or organize conferences, workshops and institutes
  • contribute to a professional publication.

Technology and Learning

Members of the College may choose to:

  • incrcy in computer, telecommunication and videoconferencing technology
  • join a listserv
  • integrate technology into teaching practice
  • enrol in a distance education
  • ease their competenion program.

Members of the College may also choose other options for learning beyond these examples.


Teacher education programs in Ontario are accredited by the Ontario College of Teachers.

Accreditation is a status granted by the College to a teacher education program or Additional Qualification course that has met or exceeded quality assurance criteria established by the College. These programs lead to a qualification on a member’s Certificate of Qualification and Registration.

Teacher education candidates are assured that pre-service and teacher education programs meet provincial regulatory requirements. They support and reflect the ethical standards and standards of practice.

 Accredited pre-service programs must meet all regulatory requirements in such areas as methods and foundations courses, divisional studies and the practicum. Accreditation ensures that Ontario’s teacher education programs are current and apply theory in practice.

The Accreditation Regulation also gives the College responsibility for accrediting Additional Qualification courses named in the regulation to address the ongoing professional needs of members. Courses offered for Additional Basic Qualifications, Additional Qualifications, Principal’s Qualifications and the Supervisory Officer’s Qualification program are among those now reviewed and accredited by the College. Teachers can find course guidelines on the College web site at www.oct.ca - Additional Qualifications - Schedules and Guidelines.

The accreditation process

Accrediting teacher education programs maintains the public’s confidence in Ontario’s certified teachers and ensures that the public’s interest is protected. The accreditation process provides quality assurance for Ontario’s teacher education programs and ensures that the programs reflect a culture of continuous quality enhancement.

Accreditation panels review pre-service programs in a transparent and fair manner. Each accreditation panel includes College members with broad knowledge and experience in education. You can bring your expertise to the accreditation process in two ways.

You can be part of an accreditation panel. Look for ads seeking panelists in Professionally Speaking.

A College accreditation panel examines applications made by a faculty to offer a teacher education program in Ontario. The application details how the program meets the requirements outlined in regulation.

After reviewing all documents submitted by the faculty, the panel members visit the campus to interview program administrators, faculty members, teacher candidates, associate teachers and others linked to the program. The panel considers various sources of evidence to develop recommendations and a report for the College’s Accreditation Committee. The committee decides about the program’s accreditation. You can find Accreditation Committee decisions at www.oct.ca → Teacher Education → How Programs Are Accredited. Decisions are also reported in Professionally Speaking.

You, and members of the public, are also invited to make submissions about the quality of initial teacher education programs. You can find details about this on the College web site at www.oct.ca - Teacher Education - How Programs are Accredited.

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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