Master of Teaching Curriculum Review Process
A multiphase MT curriculum review process began in 2017 which included (1) the development of the MT Program Vision, (2) the development of program expectations, (3) curriculum mapping to identity connections between program expectations and requirements such as courses and field experiences and (4) the creation of an action plan for the renewal of the MT program with ongoing assessment that would lead eventually lead us to revisioning.
Master of Teaching Vision Statement
During 2016-2017, the OISE community began a visioning process to explore ways to enhance teacher education in the MT program. This culminated in a vision statement that reflects a commitment to equity, diversity and accessibility:
Teaching excellence and scholarly research are the mutually reinforcing pillars of the Master ofTeaching program. The program prepares candidates to become outstanding teachers and leaders who consult, critique, create, and mobilize educational research. As a community, our faculty, students and graduates share a deep commitment to all learners and the building of a more just, equitable and sustainable world.
(Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, n.d.)
My involvement in the collaborative development of the MT vision statement was mostly energizing because the process reflected the elements that I had learned were important through my participation in the design and implementation of various teacher education programs and courses over several years. The process was also frustrating at times because of the heightened tensions around the choice of words to include in the final sentence of the vision statement. The divisions between teacher educators along the critical to conservative continuum were evident in the many long discussions that finally led to a vision statement we could all live with and that incorporated multiple elements of the Teaching for Equity framework (Grudnoff et al., 2017).
Master of Teaching Admissions Statement
The Master ofTeaching Admissions Statement is aligned with the MT Mission Statement and flows from OISE’s Guiding Principles on Equity and Diversity as this excerpt reveals:
At the University of Toronto, we strive to be an equitable, diverse and inclusive community .... OISE is dedicated to admitting qualified candidates who reflect the ethnic, cultural and social diversity of Toronto’s schools.
In fact, the Master ofTeaching Race and Inclusion Committee has been working to develop more diverse recruitment pathways, particularly with respect to Black and Indigenous applicants as these groups are underrepresented in our student body. These include outreach to middle and secondary schools and extracurricular programming to help minority students to begin to imagine teaching as a possible career.
It has been exciting to witness the gradual shift in the composition of the student body in initial teacher education at the University ofToronto from 1989 to today. Although we still have some underrepresented groups, the MT class of 2020 is among the most diverse group of teacher candidates we have ever had in terms of all types of diversity. For example, about one third of our teacher candidate (TC) population is composed of visible minorities which is reflective of the trends in Ontario captured in the 2016 census indicating that 29.3 percent of Ontario’s approximately 14 million people identified as visible minorities.
Master of Teaching Program Expectations
A working group composed of program leaders and course leads, in consultation with all MT instructors and field partners such as school district leaders and representatives from the Ontario Teachers Federation, met multiple times for more than a year to identify 23 core program expectations. These expectations are aligned with the mandatory content stipulated by the Ontario College of Teachers and also reflect the graduate nature of the MT program as well as the program vision. The expectations include knowledge, competencies and values the MT candidates will develop and display following the successful completion of the MT program. I have selected a few of the expectations that connect particularly well to elements of the Teaching for Equity' framework (Grudnoff et al., 2017):
- • Engage in data collection, analysis and the mobilization of research in respectful way's that consider communities and context
- • Recognize and investigate their own social locations, biases, (dis)advantages, and predispositions in relationship to their teaching and research
- • Understand that teaching requires ongoing learning and engagement with current issues and the different perspectives and worldviews of local and global communities
- • Demonstrate pedagogies and actions that support well-being, equity, social justice, cultural responsiveness and environmental sustainability to promote the transformative purposes of education
- • Demonstrate an understanding of the ways systemic and institutional practices impact learners and groups, and b) identify way's to address inequities and inequalities (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 2020, pages 8 and 9)
It is important to note that these expectations will continue to evolve as the curriculum renewal process is ongoing. As the program structure changes and new courses or initiatives are rolled out, it will be necessary to revisit the program expectations to ensure coherence between these and the experiences ofTCs in the MT programs. Once again, I had mixed emotions as I took part in our regular meetings spread over 2 years because there continued to be some tension between the committee members who espoused neoliberal values and those wanted to infuse criticality across the teacher education curriculum. I found it difficult to listen to the repeated call of a small number of committee members to treat teacher candidates equally with little understanding of the concept of equity in teacher education.
Master of Teaching Curriculum Mapping
The Curriculum Mapping process has been invaluable for me as a course lead for one of the mandatory courses in our program. It allowed me to get a clear sense of how the program expectations map onto the various courses and which teaching/learning/assessment strategies are preferred. It has made strengths, gaps and areas in need of attention visible through maps and charts from many perspectives.
Curriculum Mapping also helped me to see the interconnections between courses in terms of content and preferred teaching and assessment strategies. Although all MT courses touch in one way or another on aspects of equity and diversity, there are several mandatory courses where these topics are central:
- • Introduction to Special Education and Mental Health
- • Anti-Discriminatory Education
- • Supporting English Learners
- • Curriculum and Teaching in Social Studies and Aboriginal Education
- • Indigenous Experiences of Racism and Settler Colonialism in Canada: An Introduction
- • Educational Research 1 and 2
For each of the mandatory courses in the MT program, there is a course lead to ensure consistency in terms of the core content as well as teaching, learning and assessment strategies across the multiple sections of each course. As a course lead for the Supporting English Learners course, my role has included (1) the design of the course in keeping with the guidelines for core content as well as teaching, learning and assessment strategies, (2) the hiring of the instructional team to teach about 14 sections of this course a year and (3) working collaboratively with the course instructors to refine the course. My work as a course lead is supported by the Teaching and Learning Coordinator who convenes regular meetings to ensure good communication across course leads and other curriculum leaders in the MT program.
Although I have worked closely with other teacher educators for several decades and am convinced of the power of collaboration within and across cohorts of teacher candidates, it is not until joining the MT community that I experienced such a complexly interwoven set of collaborative opportunities to ensure the operationalization of the principles set out in the Teaching for Equity framework (Grudnoff et al.,2017).