Continuing Teacher Education (CTE) Offers Canada’s Teachers New Pathways for Additional QualificationsJessica Della-Latta | Executive Director of Professional and Non-Credit Programs in the Faculty of Education, Queen’s University
Teachers are remarkably busy people—planning, assessing, inspiring, and juggling classrooms bustling with enthusiastic students—not to mention trying to meet the expectation that they pursue additional qualifications (AQ) throughout their careers. At Queen’s University, we launched an array of new certificate programs and a Professional Master’s in Education (PME) to ensure that teachers’ additional course work is recognized with a qualification from one of Canada’s leading faculties of education.
Located in the Continuing Teacher Education (CTE) unit at Queen’s University’s Faculty of Education, CTE started offering post-graduate certificates in British Columbia about five years ago. To receive salary upgrades, BC teachers must complete 30 credits or five full-year courses in an area of concentration. Based on the needs of the province and our expertise at Queen’s, we began by offering certificates in Special Education and English Language Learners. As demand increased we expanded to mathematics and early childhood education, and we will offer teacher librarian starting in 2018. Organizing AQ as certificates encourages teachers to pursue lifelong learning. These courses help teachers stay up to date with current resources and theories, and the specialized certificates are excellent tools for promotion and job search.
It has always been our mission at CTE to ensure that we are doing our very best to support teachers and provide them with any opportunity we can to promote the idea of life-long learning. We feel it is imperative to ensure that students in our province are receiving the most opportunities for success in the classroom. We respect and appreciate the very important role teachers play in implementing good-practice and know that this comes from providing teachers accessible academic opportunities for continued learning and growth.
Feedback from teachers a few years ago indicated that they wanted to see a master’s degree offered in addition to post-graduate certificates. When the new Professional Master of Education (PME) launched in 2015, it was a perfect opportunity to align the expanding online master’s program with CTE’s post-graduate certificates. A CTE post-grad certificate gives students credit for two courses toward the PME. The idea is that we can offer teachers a pathway to receiving the most credit for their learning in a flexible, accessible, and professional format. Teachers saw the impact this may have on their potential income and career trajectory and uptake was immediate. Students applied for advanced standing the day after the program was announced.
Our instructional designers work alongside subject matter experts to transform good classroom-based teaching practice into a virtual environment. The modules and tasks model good practice, universal design, accommodations for adult learners, and opportunities to respond to feedback, all in ways that reflect policy standards for assessment. The courses come alive through instructors who are carefully chosen to mentor teachers and act as role models. When developing courses for BC or any other province, CTE works with the provincial curriculum and instructors, writers and developers from that region to deliver courses that meet the specific needs of the province. With the support of instructors and the online learning community, teachers have the opportunity to explore, experience, and revise new tools for learning before they incorporate them into their teaching practice.
Teachers often contact CTE when a course is finished to tell us how much they enjoyed it. Today’s students come to the classroom with new skills, knowledge, and needs, and to support them, teachers must keep their own skills and knowledge current. CTE can help teachers meet the needs of an ever-changing student population by continuing to develop easily accessible, flexible and relevant courses for Canada’s teachers.
“Teachers who take AQ courses at Queen’s Continuing Teacher Education are not simply given the knowledge and theory to be considered qualified,” said Don Klinger, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research at the Faculty of Education. “They are prepared with an arsenal of resources and tools, and obtain the practical understanding and skills to step into the classroom qualified in a new specialization.”
Teachers fresh from their B.Ed. and 30-year veterans are in the same courses, sharing their perspective, knowledge, and professional experience, and they leave our program with up-to-date, classroom-ready knowledge. They make connections with each other, exchanging resources and experiences from their professional practice. These networks of expertise are one of the most valuable aspects of our program.
Teachers from across Canada take courses with CTE, and they tell us that what we are doing is unique. What’s more, demand for our courses is growing. We have added 10 courses to Ontario and 10 to BC in the last year. Last year our enrolment grew by 20 percent in the BC post-grad certificates.
CTE has been offering these specialized professional development courses for 25 years, providing what professional teachers expect: excellence, applicability, and accessibility to support their pursuit of lifelong learning.
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