The Ontario Teacher’s Federation (OTF) recognizes that teachers need to direct their own learning and professional development. To support this need they now offer a professional development problem-based learning model which encourages teacher teams the opportunity to create their own learning projects. The model encourages teachers to: select a team to work with; develop a project; conduct the research; and evaluate the effectiveness. If the proposal is accepted, the OTF also provides support for the project through a mentoring program. Each team is assigned an expert teacher who will act as their mentor, who assists the team as needed throughout the process.
Through this process teachers are given the opportunity to:
- become involved in ongoing self-directed learning;
- spend real time collaborating with colleagues of their choice;
- work as a team on a project of they deem significant (within the specified areas of focus);
- have release time to carry out the learning initiative;
- develop and implement the project over a period of months;
- deepen their practice and evaluate teaching enhancements generated through your research and discussions; and
- share their knowledge and resources with colleagues.
This year they have suggested three areas of focus:
- Using information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance teaching and learning
- Supporting capacity building in Kindergarten
- Supporting teachers in implementing revised curriculum
- Grades 1-8
- History and Geography
- Social Studies
- Grades 9-12
- Canadian and World Studies
- Classical and International Languages
- First Nation, Métis and Inuit Studies
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Grades 1-12
- French as a Second Language
- Health and Physical Education
- Grades 1-8
Deadline for 2016 proposal applications is May 31.
Some 2015 projects were:
I remember, as a classroom teacher, wishing my school board would allow me the opportunity to identify my own areas of strength and weakness and seek out professional development accordingly. It is appropriate that the OTF is acknowledging this form of PD and taking a step in the right direction. It would be helpful if teacher education programs could also offer similar forms of support for their own staff and faculty.