Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol. 37, No. 4, November 2011, 409–421.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article provides a brief overview of Canadian pre-service teacher education.
The article also outlines some issues and factors facing and influencing these teacher education programmes.
Introduction to education in Canada
In Canada, there is no integrated national system of education.
As a result, the ministries of education in the 13 jurisdictions are responsible for organizing, delivering and assessing education at elementary, secondary and tertiary levels.
Therefore, there are significant differences in curriculum, assessment, governance and accountability policies among the jurisdictions that express the geography, history, language, culture and corresponding specialised needs of the populations served.
It is within this Canadian landscape that pre-service teacher education is situated.
Teacher education is offered in 62 institutions in Canada’s 10 provinces.
The teacher education programmes are markedly different in structure and duration and that these differences have a significant influence on delivery, time allocation and utilisation, students’ learning experiences and students’ opportunities for clinical practice.
Programme scope and diversity: issues of delivery
Most faculties of education offer courses in a university setting with school classroom experience.
Furthermore, some faculties offer unique programmes, such as Aboriginal programmes, Ecology and wellness, and Jewish teacher education programme.
Practicum, internship or student teaching experiences
All teacher education programmes require some form of teaching experience in a school setting, the practicum referenced also as internship or student teaching.
The duration of practicum varies greatly throughout Canada since it is determined by provincial teacher certification requirements.
The schedule of practicum experiences varies among faculties and by structure, i.e. concurrent or consecutive.
Induction and mentoring programmes for new teachers
In the last several years, school districts provide induction and mentoring programmes for new teachers which afford valuable support as these teachers continue their learning as teachers.
School principals supporting new teachers by advising them and conducting assessment and evaluation are also, in some school districts, considered part of the new teacher induction process.
Issues and factors facing and influencing Canadian teacher education programmes Education in Canada has changed in the past 15 years.
These influences include declining school enrolment, teachers staying in their jobs longer, increase in the number of students identified with special needs, students from other countries enrolling in schools, societal issues (e.g. poverty, abuse, bullying) in classrooms, and the use and abuse of technology and social media.
Further issues include accepting students into programmes when few teaching positions are available, diversification of teacher education programmes, the urban–rural divide, the theory–practice divide and accessibility to teacher education programmes.
In addition, the deans of education have developed a General Accord in which they agree to advance Canadian education.
The author concludes that many challenges face teacher education programmes in Canada.
However, the solutions exist within the academy and outside it.
The author suggests that equitable access to teacher education may require that programmes expand or new programmes be instituted to guarantee well-qualified teachers in all parts of the country.
The appropriate use of technology in all education programmes can assist in delivering instruction to students. Therefore, all education programmes should offer coursework in how to develop online or blended courses and how effectively to engage student participation in such courses.
The author also recommends that the theory-practice divide should be addressed by providing links between course work and practicum.