I was surprised to learn, however, that a lot of Ontario parents don't know that not only are their children's teachers regulated by the College, but that there is also a range of parent resources available to them at the Ontario College of Teachers website.
First, it's important to know that teachers in publicly-funded (which includes Catholic) elementary or secondary schools in Ontario must complete a teacher education program at an accredited university, and then apply for certification through the College. You can find more details about Ontario teacher certification here.
A very handy website tool for parents is the College's "Find a Teacher" feature. This is their public register, and lists everyone who has been certified to teach in Ontario's publicly funded schools. If you enter the name or registration number of a certified teacher, their record comes up, including the initial date of certification, qualifications (initial degree plus additional qualifications - for example you can see that I hold Specialist qualifications in Special Education and Religious Education), status with the college (I'm in "Good Standing" - whew!), and any applicable disciplinary history (none for me).
While at first I had mixed feelings about parents knowing where I went to university (Trent for my B.A. and the Trent/Queen's Concurrent Education program, in case you're interested) or how long I've been teaching, I realize that as public employees, there is some information about us that is important to our "clients" (the parents and students), and transparency is necessary. That said, privacy is certainly maintained, as there are no addresses or other contact information for teachers, nor is the employment history shown.
By the way, I can attest to the fact that teachers look up other teachers too - but don't say that I told you! Sometimes I'm curious about where someone went to school, or I'm trying to guess their age by the date they graduated. (Just being honest!)
Ontario parents are encouraged to sign up for the Ontario College of Teachers free electronic newsletter, TheStandard which includes information such as:
- College services that help you learn more about teacher qualifications
- How the College works to ensure high standards in education
- Reports on trends in education
- Changes in education legislation
If you have a particular interest in education, I also recommend you check out the College's excellent quarterly magazine, Professionally Speaking. Regular readers know that I've written for PS a couple of times, including one of my favourite articles ever, where Canada AM's Marci Ien spoke about a remarkable teacher who had a huge impact on her. They were even reunited at a photo shoot for the story!
To find out more about the free resources the Ontario College of Teachers offers parents, please visit oct.ca.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the Ontario College of Teachers. Opinions are, as always, my own.