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ETFO AQ: a Superior Learning Experience

Jerry DeQuetteville and Nancy Baldree

ETFO is recognized as the foremost provider of professional learning activities for teachers in  Ontario, if not Canada. Our members trust us to deliver a wide range of professional learning activities developed  by  teachers  for  teachers.  Members consistently tell us these activities are among the federation services they value most highly.

While ETFO is recognized as a provider of exemplary  professional  learning  programs,  its Additional Qualification  (AQ)  courses are less well known. However, more and more members are becoming aware of the advantages of taking an ETFO AQ course: a superior learning experience at a lower cost.

The AQ market has become crowded in recent years with faculties of education, district school boards, and federations  increasing their course offerings. While these courses meet the criteria set out by the Ontario College of Teachers, the reality is that there is a great variance among courses. In this crowded market, ETFO makes its AQ offerings a superior learning experience by:

  • ensuring that AQ course developers embed ETFO beliefs within the course
  • having courses developed by elementary educators who understand the realities of elementary classrooms
  • developing course content that is practical, well grounded in effective practice, and respectful of the balance between theory and practice
  • respecting the delicate work/life balance of teachers
  • reviewing courses regularly and updating them to make certain that activities, resources, and key learnings remain current.

This is the ETFO edge.

Not only do ETFO AQ courses provide for a  superior  learning  experience,  they  are  also 24 percent less expensive than those offered by other providers (currently an ETFO AQ costs $650, whereas other providers charge an average of $850). We are committed to providing these courses at a  minimal cost; other providers see them as a money-making opportunity. Given the ETFO edge and the low registration fee, it is no wonder that the number of participants in ETFO AQ courses has increased by 705 percent between 2006 and 2008! Ontario’s  highly  organized  system  of  AQ courses comprise 125 hours of study (as legislation requires) linked to specific educational needs. The Ontario College of Teachers regulates and accredits all AQ courses. When you successfully complete an ETFO AQ, the college updates your record card. Members may also use ETFO AQ courses to improve their grid placement as identified by QECO.

The Kindergarten  AQ
The ETFO Kindergarten AQ course provides an opportunity for kindergarten teachers to reflect on their understanding of child development and to plan programs based on developmentally appropriate practice. The course is based on ETFO resources, and on Ministry of Education and Ministry of Children and Youth Services documents. An action research project conducted in the kindergarten classroom provides insight into the application of the theory and its impact on student learning. Courses will be offered in the summer/ fall session in the Peel, Durham, Simcoe, Algoma, Lakehead, Greater Essex, Hamilton-Wentworth, Upper Canada, and Upper Grand locals.

The Special  Education  AQ
The three-part Special Education AQ course is currently our most popular. The program is unique because  it  weaves the  thread  of  differentiation throughout course activities and embeds it in the key learnings. The course focuses on the realities of working with students with special needs and provides a complete perspective on special education in Ontario. Candidates apply what they learn in assignments, reflection, and group work. Summer courses will be offered in the Simcoe, Lambton Kent, Hamilton-Wentworth, and Peel locals.

Teaching  Combined  Grades
Teaching Combined Grades is a single session AQ course planned for this fall. Written and delivered by teachers of combined grades, this practical course focuses on the how-to of managing combined-grade classrooms, weaving theory and practice to support student learning. Built on the ETFO resource, A Teachers Guide to Combined Grades, the course addresses program planning and delivery, instructional strategies, assessment and evaluation, classroom management, and shared support for learners.

Principal’s  Qualification  Program
ETFO’s  Principal’s  Qualification Program  (PQP)  is  a  key component of our commitment to improving the quality of educational leadership in Ontario. While it falls under the AQ umbrella, it differs from other ETFO AQ courses, and has a different fee structure. When it was first offered over five years ago, the PQP course’s mission statement was “Preparing future principals to support a community oflearners for the improvement of student learning.” Candidate feed- back shows that participants continue to find the course outstanding. Enrolment has grown by 83 percent over the past three years.
The ETFO PQP provides a supportive environment that encourages networking and discussion, and provides a framework that helps candidates make connections between the theoretical and practical aspects of educational leadership. Distinct from courses offered by other providers, the ETFO PQP ensures that future school administrators are well aware of ETFO and the collective bargaining and professional rights of teachers. The ETFO PQP is currently offered in partnership with the Halton, Peel, Upper Grand, and York Region district school boards.

ETFO is building on the success of these professional courses by reviewing its offerings and developing new courses that will meet members’ needs. New course offerings are awaiting the approval of and accreditation by the Ontario College of Teachers. All courses will continue to have the ETFO edge that members value. When you’re looking for an AQ course, look to ETFO  first. Make the ETFO edge work for you.

For more information about  ETFO professional course offerings, visit