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Ontario needs to mentor teachers

New OISE report highlights need for a new teachers mentoring program

January 24, 2011

Ontario needs to provide transformative mentoring opportunities for new teachers as part of its teacher induction program, according to a new report released by a team of researchers led by the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto.

The report, Stakeholders’ Perspectives on Induction for New Teachers: Critical Analysis of Teacher Testing and Mentorship, is in response to the introduction of the Ontario Teacher Qualifying Test (OTQT) – Ontario’s teacher testing program that was subsequently eliminated by the Ministry of Education and replaced with the Ontario’s New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP). The NTIP  provides mentoring as a component of new teacher induction.
Results of the report suggest that a transformative, rather than reproductive, model of teacher induction and certification is essential to the success of teachers and students in order to achieve goals of equity, inclusion and social justice. The reportincludes input from three stakeholder groups (new teachers, teacher educators, and school administrators) who all agree that some form of teacher induction is beneficial. Nearly all participants of the research study supported a mentoring-type program to achieve this. They also expressed preference for on-the-job and hand-on experience dealing with classroom management, curriculum and planning as the focus of induction. They also stressed that personal characteristics, such as passion, enthusiasm, respect, and caring, are not captured in a pencil-and-paper type test.
“Teacher induction and certification programs, if designed uncritically, privilege and therefore reproduce the status quo,” says OISE Professor John Portelli, lead investigator of the report. “Such reproductive induction programs hinder change, making it impossible to move from the schools we have to the schools we want. If Ontario schools are failing students, then reproductive models of teacher induction and certification will surely continue to stagnate any progress towards addressing these inequities.”
The research team includes co-investigators: the late Patrick Solomon, York University, Sarah Barrett, York University and Donatille Mujawamariya, University of Ottawa.