Professionalism


In Ontario, the governing organization thing for the teaching bag is the Ontario College of Teachers.  They do, approximately, the following things:

1. License your ass to be a teacher, or hold you from it if you do something untoward.

  • a) They also make fancy rules in regards to the “something untoward” in Strongly Worded Professional Language.

2. Take your moneys.

3. Provide services to those who have allowed for number 2.

Let’s talk about number three for a while.

The first, and really most valuable, service provided is the Blue Pages.

The Ontario College of Teachers sends out a quarterly magazine to all the people on the register who have ponied up their fees. It contains articles on teaching, profiles on educators, and a bunch of other things that people also do not read. At the very back, however, it holds the Blue Pages. The Blue Pages were something teachers at my practicum schools had told me about before I could even run my eyes over them.

The Blue Pages are basically a recording of the disciplinary hearings held by the OCT for people who are breakin’ the rules. This runs the gamut from off-brand unprofessionalism and general jerkishness to the… disturbing (ie. diddling and violence). Now, the cases where the kids involved were actually subject to harm, those ones aren’t so enjoyable, what with all the horror. But the majority of cases that don’t go into the revolting are actually some degree of fun. Sure, fun soaked in self-righteous schadenfreude, but still. You read all about people who have absolutely fucked the dog on their career, and have usually pulled some absolutely astounding crap along the way to their booting.How did these people manage to skate by for so long, you wonder? Did nobody notice they were crazy?

It’s petty and childish, sure. But… well, there is no but. It’s still just enjoyable. Until you realize that this person, the one so bad that the unions and the system and the boards could not stand up for them, the one that they publish the full name of just to make sure you know how much they suck, this person was employed with a school board. And you aren’t because you’re just some freshy B.Ed. bum! The universe laughs back at you.

The other major service they provide, outside of occasionally letting you into the Science Centre for cheap, is to give us a professional designation.

Through years of arduous and vague effort apparently, they have made it that teachers in Ontario can (and, according to them, should) follow their names with the letters “OCT” (for Ontario Certified Teacher). They include: business cards, articles, appearances in the media. They even say you should sign OCT after your name when you send notes home to parents.

Which: fine, okay. I understand it is important to show there is a big spooky body governing our profession, and that we are a part of it and are beholden to its rules and regulations. But… I also have absolutely no desire to shove more letters after my name, nor would I ever put them on informal notes or email signatures. That kind of thing reads as… weirdly desperate, to me, like when someone introduces themselves and tries to drop in their educational background and job as quickly and unseemly as possible.

I think I became pushed from “not caring” to “actively unimpressed” by the college’s campaign for its members to use the designation when I read some of the website materials. The website sternly recommends: “The professional designation is a trademarked symbol granted by College Council and must not be used in a careless or cavalier manner[…]” and further fingerwags at you against “defacing, satirizing or maligning your designation, its purpose or its connection to the College or Ontario’s teaching profession.” The reason this gets me het up, of course, is because my absolute first impulse was to use it satirically, because it is very hard for me to take this sort of thing seriously.

So much of the teaching profession seems enmeshed in bureaucracy and strikingly unnecessary foofaraw. I got jacked for my membership fees earlier this year, and given that there is very little humanly way I will get any form of employment teaching in Ontario this year, the professional designation and the magazine are basically the only return I’m getting. That sad bassoon they play on gameshows when a contestant fails is soundtracking this discovery. I don’t need letters after my name, thanks. I need a job.

That said: I hope to hell none of the shadowy figures at the college reads this, because at this point it probably borders on the satirical and unsevere. I am happy to have the designation, if only because the governing body itself is important in its purpose of licensing and regulating teachers, and I would really like to not be revoked. And I am not just saying this because I assume that beKevlarred Kindergarten teachers will firebomb through my windows and wrest my OCT card from my clutching hands if I was to malign my designation. I just find it difficult to actively care about this sort of thing when it is impossible for me to write letters home to parents because I don’t have any students.

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