Teachers in Ontario are bound by the Ontario Education Act. This Act sets the rules for teachers’ professional conduct and shapes how education is delivered to students in Ontario’s publicly funded school system. The rules made under the Education Act include such things as information on the development of teacher learning plans, standards used for teacher performance appraisals and the duties of teachers and others who work in the school system.
In keeping with the Ontario Schools Code of Conduct, teachers in Ontario are expected to maintain a high degree of professionalism with their students at all times. This relationship includes interactions with students outside of the classroom.
Developed by the Ontario College of Teachers, the Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession as well as the Ethical Standards for the Teaching Profession set expectations for teachers’ professional and ethical conduct. Among other things, they state that all teachers must respect the nature of the student-teacher relationship, demonstrate fairness and respect for all students as individuals, work with members of the College to create a supportive professional environment, and show respect for human dignity, spiritual values, cultural values, freedom, social justice, democracy and the environment. For a more thorough description of these two very important publications, please consult the College website here.
The main purpose of the Child and Family Services Act is to promote the best interests, protection and well being of all children under the age of 18. Under the Act, teachers and others who work with children have a heightened obligation to report any suspicion that a child is being, or is at risk of being, physically, emotionally or sexually abused. For teachers and other professionals covered by a College, failure to follow the obligations under the Child and Family Services Act is defined as professional misconduct.
Teacher performance is evaluated using a province-wide system outlined by the Ontario Ministry of Education. This system looks at a teacher's ability to use his or her skills effectively in the classroom.
The New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP) was introduced by the Ministry of Education in the 2006-07 school year to support the growth and development of new teachers. A component of this program is the Performance Appraisal of New Teachers.
The performance appraisal system requires teachers new to the profession, or new to a board, to be evaluated twice within a 12 month period of being hired into permanent positions. New teachers are evaluated according to eight areas of competency and receive an overall rating of "satisfactory" or "development needed." Additional evaluations are required if an appraisal in the first year results in a performance rating of "development needed." The overall rating options in these subsequent appraisals are "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory."
Experienced teachers are evaluated once every five years according to 16 areas of competency and receive an overall rating of "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory."
Teachers who hold an Interim Certificate of Qualification or a Certificate of Qualification may complete professional development courses that lead to additional qualifications. They may also complete programs, courses or workshops to improve their professional knowledge and practise. Professional development is offered to teachers by faculties of education, teacher federations and school boards, as well as by some private companies.
In addition to those explained above, there are a number of other standards that teachers should be aware of. These are outlined in documents such as the Safe Schools Act, the Special Education Act, the Violence-Free School Policy and more. For further information on other important legislation, please consult the Policy and Reference section of the Ministry of Ontario website here.