Education International
Education International

Canada: Gap between teachers’ hopes and practice

published 12 July 2012 updated 17 July 2012

External forces often change the way teachers teach, with just under half of teachers occasionally having opportunities to teach as they aspire to. That’s according to a 2012 joint research report from the Canadian Education Association (CEA) and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF).

The report, Teaching the Way We Aspire to Teach: Now and in the Future, explores teachers’ vision for teaching and learning in Canada’s public schools. The research involved extensive input from over 200 teachers who participated in CEA focus groups across the country and over 4,700 teachers who responded to a CTF online survey.

Sobering backdropThe concept of 'alienated teaching' - defined as “a kind of teaching that teachers perform when they feel that they must comply with external conditions they have not chosen and from which they inwardly dissent” - provides a sobering backdrop to the research.

Focus group feedback exposed a difference between how teachers wanted to teach and how they felt they were required to teach. Nearly half of the respondents (49 per cent) indicated they occasionally have opportunities to teach as they aspire to, and 48 per cent indicated they are only occasionally able to be creative in their teaching practice.

“What stands out for us in this report is the extent to which teachers thrive amid the myriad of external conditions imposed upon them,” said CTF President Paul Taillefer, “and the fact that they just want to be given the respect and flexibility they need to make the best decisions possible for their students’ academic success.”

Support strategiesThe report also defines how governments, administrators and parents can best support teachers. This includes developing trusting relationships, consistent policies and programmes that increase flexibility in the classroom; as well as more progressive and positive assessment policies and reducing class size policies.

Teachers also stressed the importance of professional knowledge and the drive to improve themselves through lifelong learning, seeking intellectual stimulation, curiosity and a research orientation.

To download the full report Teaching the Way We Aspire to Teach: Now and in the Future, please click here