The Admirable Journey to Becoming an Ontario Certified Teacher

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Teachers play a significant part in children’s lives and parents entrust them in shaping our children into who they will become. Taking care of your own kids is hectic enough, but have you wondered how teachers manage a classroom full of them while imparting knowledge that has a significant weight on their future? If so, this blog post is for you!

​Here we want to shed some light on what motivates teachers to choose their life-long profession and the long journey towards full-time teaching, so that we have a greater appreciation of their dedication and contribution.

A life decision: choosing a teaching career

Let’s just get this out of the way: teaching is not exactly a glamorous profession when it comes to social recognition and financial prosperity in North America nowadays. The perception of a union-backed job with a great pension, decent working hours, and long summer breaks overshadows the hard work and long hours that teachers put in during their lifelong career. So why do teachers choose this career path over other “easier” ones? Here are some answers from teachers we have talked to:

  • They were motivated by their own teachers whom they saw as role models.
  • Their upbringing from a family with members in the teaching profession have enlightened them with the merits of being a teacher.
  • They see a bigger social picture of preparing children to become the leaders of tomorrow and set it as their own mission.
  • They simply enjoy working with children and helping others.

Those motivated enough to consider a teaching profession would have done their research and learn that it is not an easy path, yet they are undeterred to pursue this career path because they see a bigger cause. In most cases, these individuals also exert traits including compassion, curiosity, intellect, and adaptability. With their sights set, they are prepared for their post-secondary education.

Teacher education and certification

The Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) is the council that licenses, governs, and regulates the Ontario teaching profession in the public interest. All teachers working in the Ontario public education system must be a licensed member of the College, who are also referred to as Ontario Certified Teachers (also abbreviated as OCT, interestingly).

To become an OCT, one must first complete an undergraduate degree in a program that aligns with the subject he/she wants to teach in the future. Then one must complete a two-year teacher education degree from an accredited university, for which admission requires good marks, volunteer experience working with children, and positive references. The program generally qualifies teacher candidates to teach two grade ranges (SK-3, 4-6, 7-10, 11-12), and one or two specialized subjects for higher grades.

The two-year program prepares prospective teachers well with both in-depth studies in the Ontario curriculum and foundations for teaching, as well as evaluated practice teaching. The latter puts teachers-to-be’s aptitude and teaching abilities to test, while providing real-world experience to see the big picture of teaching in a classroom setting. This is arguably the most challenging part of the program, and it is where teacher candidates validate whether they are suitable and passionate about teaching.

Upon graduating from the teacher education program, teacher candidates complete their application to become an OCT member and receive their license.

The climb towards full-time teaching

Becoming OCT-certified is only the prelude to a long road ahead. Ontario school boards take a staged approach with teaching opportunities, where new teachers must go through iterations of occasional teaching to be qualified for a full-time teaching position. To increase the chance of securing occasional teaching opportunities, teachers must be constantly volunteering, networking, and upskilling themselves with additional qualifications in high-demand teaching areas. These translate to time and financial commitments that could be challenging for upcoming teachers.

Alternatively, some teachers choose to pursue their career in private schools or overseas, which offers better financial security and valuable teaching (and life) experience. Though in many cases, these teachers would eventually want to partake in the Ontario public education system where they can contribute back to their community.

Amid student debts, rising living costs, and increased competition for full-time teaching positions due to government funding cuts, some teachers have to work harder than ever, or give up their dream and passion for a more stable career elsewhere altogether. In reality, it is a much bigger loss for our community because we lose passionate and talented educators who would nurture the next generation of leaders.

Appreciating teachers and their contributions

The road to becoming a teacher is undoubtedly long and challenging, yet many are determined to walk this path, driven by their passion and desire to benefit society. It is frankly an underappreciated profession and they deserve the support from parents, children, and the general public.

At TeachRequest, we offer our support to teachers through our private one-to-one tutoring service, by providing them with fulfilling opportunities in helping individual students at their schedule. We hope to act as a bridge for teachers in their transition towards full-time teaching. When you request for tutor at TeachRequest, you are also doing your part in supporting teachers and our future leaders!

Be sure to also let your voice heard by the government in your support for better public education. And next time when you meet your child’s teachers, be sure to thank them for their care for your child – it will make their day!

Fun fact: National Teacher’s Day is on October 5.

If there are topics that you would like us to cover, please drop us a message! Thanks for reading and be sure to check the TeachRequest Blog regularly for updates.