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Mandatory support program needed for Ontario's new teachers, Ontario College of Teachers says

December 10 2003

Mentoring will improve quality of teaching for next 30 years

December 10, 2003 (Toronto) - Canada's largest self-regulatory body released a policy paper today that recommends the establishment of a mandatory two-year program of support for Ontario's newly certified teachers.

Ontario has a small window of opportunity to support new teachers in ways that will improve student learning for the next 30 years, the Ontario College of Teachers says, and New Teacher Induction: Growing Into the Profession helps to chart that way forward.

"New teachers need mentors," says College Registrar Doug Wilson. "They want the help of veteran educators to fast track their on-the-job education as teachers. The faster they learn to become good teachers, the better it is for students and for the system in terms of teacher retention."

Ontario needs to hire between 9,000 and 10,000 new teachers a year to replace those who are leaving the profession, most to retirement. The wisdom and experience of veteran teachers will be lost unless the system finds a way to pass it along to those just entering the profession, Wilson says.

Following unanimous approval from its 31-member Council, the College is recommending that a mandatory two-year induction support system be established in every publicly funded school board.

"This is what Ontario teachers need, what administrators know helps and what school boards cannot afford on their own," says College Chair Marilyn Laframboise. "The government must provide additional money through the funding formula directly to school boards."

In 1991, 89 per cent of Ontario's school boards were in various stages of planning, developing or offering induction programs, including mentoring. But by 2002, fewer than one in four new Ontario teachers had mentors.

The College's proposed program recommends pairing new teachers with experienced teacher/mentors to provide support, advice, coaching, feedback and assessment related to teaching practice. The estimated cost of $40 million is based on summer sessions, mentoring activities, professional development, program administration and release time for 10,000 novice teachers and 10,000 mentors in 72 Ontario school boards.

The College released a white paper on the topic last April and followed up with comprehensive face-to-face consultations across Ontario with teachers, school board administrators, teacher federations and various education stakeholders. College Council is now calling for a mandatory program in every Ontario school board that includes goals, clear links to professional standards, orientation, support, mentoring, professional learning, recognition, release time and evaluation.

"Becoming a teacher is a process, not an event," says Brian McGowan, Deputy Registrar of the College. "The induction period is one of continual and rapid professional growth. It is especially important to teachers in their critical, early years."

"Mentoring links veteran and novice educators, puts teacher practice in line with school and system goals and gives teachers the tools to learn their jobs faster and perform better. It makes them feel welcomed, cared for and connected. And with the success it breeds, it may make them want to stay in teaching longer."

According to a College survey of first and second year teachers:

  • more than half of new teachers are hired after school starts in September
  • one in five are asked to teach subjects they haven’t been trained to teach, and
  • almost one in five is at risk of leaving teaching altogether early in their career.

It costs roughly $4,400 to recruit and hire a new teacher. By comparison, mandatory induction would cost approximately $4,000 per teacher over two years

The Ontario College of Teachers licenses, governs and regulates the profession of teaching in the public interest. It sets standards of practice and ethical standards, conducts disciplinary hearings and accredits teacher education programs affecting its 190,000 members in publicly funded schools and institutions across Ontario. The College is the largest self-regulatory body in Canada.

For more information:
Brian Jamieson
416-961-8800 ext. 255
Toll-free 1-888-534-2222, ext. 255

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