OCT OEEO

PS_December_2018

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31 December 2018 Professionally Speaking Worldly Perspectives International teachers share their experiences and observations from inside Ontario's schools. BY JENNIFER LEWINGTON T hey come from afar as experi- enced teachers who leave home to write the next chapter of their professional careers in Ontario public schools. Professionally Speaking asked four Ontario Certified Teachers, born and trained abroad, to describe their adjustment to a new culture, unfamiliar pedagogy and professional development practices. AN EVOLUTION OF GROWTH In 2003, on her first day as a supply teacher in the District School Board of Niagara, England-born Samantha Lengyel, OCT, knew she was no longer in her east London primary school: Ontario students and staff rose to sing the Canadian anthem. "We don't play the national anthem at school [in England] but it is the first thing that happens at school [here]," she notes. She arrived in Canada in 2000, shortly after marrying her Canadian husband, Nick, a teacher with the Niagara board. Two years later, now a mother of one, she received her teaching credentials and began supply teaching in 2003. Another difference Lengyel notes between the British and Ontario school system is Ontario doesn't use the English system of ministry inspectors who visit schools to assess student progress. "That was huge in my first year of teaching [in England], but it's not something that happens here." During two years of teaching in London, Lengyel had access to a mentor and other professional development, as Ontario teachers do, but without the release time permitted here for lesson planning. In 2007, after almost four years as a supply teacher, she received a permanent full-time position with the Niagara board and currently teaches Grade 3/4 at Prince of Wales Public School in St. Catharines, Ont. After teaching in two countries, Lengyel describes her professional growth as an evolution, steadily adding College-recognized subject qualifications since 2012. "What I was like at the beginning [of my career], compared to what I am now, has really changed a lot," she says. "You con- stantly have to adapt and change." CREATING A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT Newly married in 2014, Jamaica-born teacher Marlon Douglas, OCT, travelled to Fort Frances to visit his wife, also Jamaican, who was working for a long-term care home in the north- western Ontario town. Unfamiliar with winter (average monthly snowfall in Fort Frances is 20 centimetres), Douglas decided "I can probably live with it" and moved to Ontario the following year. A graduate of the University of Technology, Jamaica, in 2009, with a bachelor of education in technical vocational education and training, Douglas taught technical drawing and construction technology over six years on contract at various schools on the Caribbean island. In Ontario, Douglas assumed his job search would echo that in Jamaica: apply directly to a school. Instead, he had to search postings listed by a district school board. In December, 2015, he was hired as an education assistant for the Rainy River District School Board, assigned to Crossroads School, 22 kilometres west of Fort Frances, serving LaVallee Township and Naicatchewenin First Nation. "Switching from a foreign country was the best experience I have had in my entire career," he says, of his two years as an educational assistant — one year in a Grade 5/6 classroom and another in a student transition room at the school. "It was just the right thing for me to do to be introduced to the system ... it was a different culture, different background, different everything." New to Indigenous traditions, he joined Crossroads students for his first ice-fishing trip. "Even though the students, the environment and the people are different [than in Jamaica], it is still the same principle: it is about the learning environment you have to create for that group of people."

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