An Orientation to Diversity

“An orientation to Ontario is all well and good…but what does Ontario know of me?”

The words resonated in the meeting room in which 20 recently certified teachers from various countries were assembled. They had come to the information session to understand their Ontario teaching certificate but mostly to gather any leads on possible employment.

Each of the participants in the session, many of whom waited several months for their credential assessment by the College to be completed, was finally certified to continue their teaching career in Ontario and was facing the same daunting task of finding employment in Ontario.

They listened attentively and took copious notes as the College presenters explained what it meant to be an Ontario certified teacher, the various entries on a certificate of qualification, how to access additional qualification courses and the ways the public could be assured of the qualifications and competence of Ontario certified teachers.

As the presenter began to speak about the additional qualification course “An orientation to teaching in Ontario”, I could see some participants beginning to shift in their seats, slowly putting their pens and looking somewhat more quizzically at the presenter.

The presenter spoke about the value in understanding the Ontario context, classroom management techniques, expectations of teachers with respect to communication with parents. As an experienced teacher and school leader myself, I nodded as I affirmed each of the elements of the orientation program designed to help internationally educated teachers (IETs) integrate themselves into the Ontario context. I felt proud of the work that the College was doing to assist IETs in understanding the Ontario context and adapting their practice to our context.

As the presenter began to provide specific examples of differences between Ontario classrooms and the teaching context in other countries and as she began to describe the shift the participants would need to make in their practice, a quiet murmur began in the back row. The presenter continued and the murmur grew louder and it was clear that the participants were reacting, and not in a favourable way, to this part of the presentation.

To learn more about this scenario, including the author’s own response, please attend the Intersections of Diverse Teachers and Diverse Learners at CSSE 2013, or stay tuned to the DiT website because we will be posting those details in the near future.

Until then, please leave a comment so that we can read your responses to this scenario. Here are some questions to consider interacting with each other and the author (Dr. Michael Salvatori, from the Ontario College of Teachers) about:

  1. From your perspective, what might have caused this shift in the reaction among the participants to the presentation?
  2. How do you feel about this reaction and to what extent do you feel it is reasonable or to be expected?


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