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CTEP program fast tracks students into teaching

 

by Aurora Herrera

An exciting development is happening in teacher training that puts students on the express train to success.

Undergraduates are getting on board the new concurrent teacher education program (CTEP), a unique offering at the University of Toronto for students who are passionate about a career in teaching.

“Ever since I was young, my passion has been to become a teacher,” said Fatima-Zahra Bensalam, a first-year student. “I enrolled in the CTEP program because it was the fastest way to get me there, while at the same time giving me some practical teaching experience and a second degree.”

A year ago she did not know how to make this passion a reality. Today, Bensalam is on her way to earning her Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) and a Bachelor’s degree (French specialist).

According to U of T Scarborough professors Corinne Beauquis and Charles Dyer, academic advisors of the new program, CTEP students will have a significant advantage over other Ontario students when it comes to a career in education.

Normally, students have to complete an undergraduate degree before applying to teacher’s college. CTEP is a concurrent program, and therefore students are admitted at the same time into a bachelor program and a B.Ed. at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). Their concurrent studies prepare them simultaneously for both degrees. After the five years are completed, they are eligible to begin teaching right away and they become members of the Ontario College of Teachers.

Students can get practical teaching experience much earlier through CTEP than they would in other programs. In fact, as early as first year the students start building their professional identity through an electronic portfolio and reflection on teaching. In second year, they begin field placements.

Some students enroll in teacher’s college after completing their bachelor’s degree, have their first classroom experience and then change their mind about teaching as a career, Dyer said.

“The unique thing about this program is that students get both theoretical and practical experience,” he said. “Students must complete two practicum sessions over the course of the program, and by the end they know what it’s like to be in a classroom and can make an informed decision about a teaching career much sooner.”

Beauquis said that the Early Teacher Project (ETP) and the Early Teachers of French Program, which started at this campus, are being phased out, and the university is offering this new and extensive program for aspiring teachers in its place.

Admission to teacher’s college is highly competitive, according to the CTEP administrators, and therefore this program is a smart choice for many.

“For anyone striving to become a teacher, I would highly recommend this program,” said Bensalam. “Not only because it is concurrent but also because it includes workshops that help you develop vital teaching skills.”

For their second simultaneous undergraduate degree, CTEP students can choose to pursue an Honours Bachelor of Arts, an Honours Bachelor of Science, a Bachelor of Music or a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education. At the Scarborough campus, CTEP students can pursue a B.Sc. in math, chemistry or physics, or a B.A. in French.

“I wanted to become a teacher and the CTEP program was the only concurrent education program in Toronto that I could start in my first year, as opposed to other universities where I would have to apply for the concurrent education program after my first year,” said Michelle Aglipay, a first-year student.

Students also benefit from an internship where they have the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of practical experiences, including teaching at school sites and non-school sites such as after-school homework programs, youth clubs or drop-in centres for young people. Students also have the possibility of doing internships at international sites. For example, students in the French program could go to a school in France for a few weeks.

The program also offers students field experiences linked to the Child and Adolescent Development in Education, Equity and Diversity in Education and Inclusive Education: ESL and Exceptional Learners courses. These subjects are part of the mandatory foundation courses in the CTEP program. The purpose is to link theory with practice for a more hands-on experience.

Students also build an electronic portfolio which includes memorabilia, assignments and reflective activities from the time of entry to completion of the program.

“The electronic portfolio is an excellent tool to mark the student’s progress, and in fifth year the students will produce a professional portfolio which they can take to potential employers,” said Beauquis.

Bensalam, who is in the Concurrent Teacher Education Program for French, has begun to build her e-portfolio. In her opinion, that is the best part of the program.

“I know that the time I spend in this program will help me enhance my skills, correct my weaknesses, and hone my strengths,” she said. “This has been a great first year in CTEP.”

CTEP is available at the Faculty of Music, Faculty of Physical and Health Education, the University of Toronto Mississauga and the University of Toronto Scarborough. As of the academic year 2008/09, students can apply for CTEP at St. Michael's College and Victoria College as well. The University of Toronto Scarborough campus is the only location that offers physics.

Beauquis and Dyer were the coordinators of the Early Teacher Project and the Early Teachers of French Program. They lent their experience to the CTEP program, performing the same role. Now, they function solely as academic advisors. Dyer is one of the most experienced members of the program, with more than 15 years of experience in concurrent education.

The University of Toronto has hired a part-time coordinator, Saddaf Syed, to handle the program and work with students and faculty on the Scarborough campus.

“I am excited to be part of a dedicated team committed to providing an outstanding program and an enriching student experience,” said Syed. “The opportunity to specialize in specific subjects that are in high demand by schools, plus the early teaching placements offered, make CTEP a unique learning experience for students.”

For more information on CTEP, see: http://www.ctep.utoronto.ca/home/index.html

Aurora Herrera is a fourth-year student in the joint journalism program offered by U of T Scarborough and Centennial College. She is currently working as an intern in the office of marketing and communications.




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