How to Become an Elementary Teacher in Ontario

If you consider working as an elementary teacher in Ontario, there are plenty of benefits to consider, including professional development days, vacation days, great retirement and health insurance packages, and a lot more. And this career path is ideal for young persons who are nurturing, dedicated, outgoing, team-oriented, organized, compassionate, and caring.

Educational Level Required

There are certain requirements to meet to become an elementary teacher in Ontario, including successful completion of a 1-year teacher education program, 3-year post secondary degree at an accredited institution of higher education, and application to the College for certification. If you are an internationally educated or out of province graduate, you are still required to become certified by the College. This is provided that you plan to teach at one of Ontario’s public schools. The first step to becoming an elementary teacher, however, is to get good grades in the liberal arts, science, and mathematics. It is also a good idea to gain experience working with kids. Check different faculty and university programs to find one that suits you best. There are different teacher education programs to look into – grades 11 – 12 or Senior, grades 7 – 10 or Intermediate, grades 4 – 6 or Junior, and kindergarten to grade 3 or Primary. While in college, you may want to specialize in one or several subjects, for example, math, science, history, or English. Teachers are certified to teach in public schools and teach subjects such as music, science, computers, physical education, math, art, and language or the so called traditional subjects. There are two types of certification – full and interim certification. There are upgrading opportunities as well offered in the form of language upgrading programs. In any case, new graduates need a teaching certificate to apply for a position.

Programs and Universities

Many Canadian universities have faculties of education, including Brock University, University of Toronto, Lakehead University, and University of Ottawa. Other universities also run their education programs, for example, Trent University, Queen’s University, and Western University, among others. Many faculties offer scholarships and grants based on experience and academic excellence. Students are offered courses such as classroom management, special education and inclusion, social foundations of education, safe schools, mental health literacy, and others. Field experiences and practicums are also offered, for example, alternative field experience, transition to professional practice, and others. Students are also free to choose from specialty courses such as teaching French immersion, social and emotional learning, research in international contexts, and many others. There are elective courses as well.

Teachers are free to join the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario which is a labor union established to represent occasional and elementary school teachers and to defend their interests and rights. The federation has some 76,000 members and is one of the leaders when it comes to equity issues.

Job Prospects

Teaching positions are scarce, and reports show that about 38 percent of new college graduates are unemployed. Young professional face a tough season and years of student loans to repay. More than 50 percent of new graduates are forced to look for employment opportunities outside Ontario. The good news is that prospects are improving. Some specialties have better chances of employment, including computer studies, sciences, secondary math, and French. The reduced number of teachers in Ontario means that elementary teachers will be in demand in the future. Some college graduates begin their careers in supply or occasional teaching leading to permanent employment later on. Teachers in supply roles find themselves in permanent employment or long-term occasional employment in several years.