6 : Standards of Practice

Together, We Create

Meeting Standards of Practice During an Online Practicum

In Module 6, you will:

  • Learn how the Ontario College of Teachers defines the standards of practice for the profession
  • Read ways that you can demonstrate each of the standards during an online practicum experience
  • Reflect on the standards of the profession and on ways that you can show these integrated standards during your online practicum
  • Identify two to three strategies of focus for your practicum experience that you can share with your faculty supervisor and associate teacher


Estimated Completion Times

Estimated Reading Time : 1 Hour

Estimated Reflection Time : 15 Minutes

Estimated Practice Time: 20 Minutes

Table of Contents for this Module

6.1 Think Big

6.2 Reflect

6.3 Practice

6.1 Think Big

Think Big Arrow

During the practicum experience, preservice teachers observe for a time, and gradually assume responsibility for planning, teaching, assessment and evaluation. Decisions about what preservice teachers teach, how much they teach, and when they will teach are collaborative. The associate teacher, in collaboration with the preservice teacher and the faculty supervisor, articulate a plan that aligns with programmatic expectations and that offers sufficient scope for the preservice teacher to both practice and demonstrate their ability to plan, teach, assess and evaluate student learning. Central to the practicum is the need to demonstrate the standards of practice of the profession, a set of five interdependent ideals, established by the Ontario College of Teachers.

The standards are:

  • Commitment to Students and Student Learning
  • Professional Knowledge
  • Professional Practice
  • Leadership in Learning Communities
  • Ongoing Professional Learning

Given that online learning requires us to reimagine and rethink teaching and learning ecologies, we must also rethink the ways that preservice teachers can demonstrate professional standards during an online practicum. In what follows, we offer some ideas for how preservice teachers might demonstrate standards of the profession, in an online context.

Commitment to Students and Student Learning

Definition: Members are dedicated in their care and commitment to students. They treat students equitably and with respect and are sensitive to factors that influence individual student learning. Members facilitate the development of students as contributing citizens of Canadian society. (oct.ca)

Online, preservice teachers can demonstrate care and commitment to students by…

  • Using considerations for equity, inclusion and accessibility as foundational principles for all that they do. Preservice teachers can ensure that learning goals are always made clear and explicit, informed by an understanding of students’ strengths, interests, and needs, and that learners have multiple, multimodal ways to access important ideas.
  • Ensuring that assessments vary, and that students have choice in how they show their learning over time.
  • Creating learning activities, assessments and evaluations that are “humanizing” (see Module 4 for ideas) and that honour the diversity of students’ lived experiences, perspectives and needs.
  • Creating spaces and opportunities for students to develop relationships with one another. These include (but are not limited to) collaborative projects, moderated online discussions, periodic synchronous video chats with small groups.
  • Closely monitoring student progress, communicating directly with students and their families (as appropriate) to check in, to support, to encourage, and of course, to learn what the child or teen needs so that instruction and supports can be informed by those needs.
  • Using multiple channels for communication, as necessary (e.g., email, telephone calls, announcements generated through the LMS etc.)

Professional Knowledge

Definition: Members strive to be current in their professional knowledge and recognize its relationship to practice. They understand and reflect on student development, learning theory, pedagogy, curriculum, ethics, educational research and related policies and legislation to inform professional judgment in practice.

Online, preservice teachers can demonstrate professional knowledge by…

  • Reading, reflecting and using their preservice teacher preparation program as an opportunity to develop deep professional knowledges, vocabularies, frameworks for thinking about the complexities of teaching and learning, and across a range of contexts that include online contexts.
  • Critically questioning the assumptions they hold as “self-evident” and that may be grounded in their own apprenticeship of observation, constructed over time, from their perspective as a student in classrooms.
  • Engaging with their associate teacher, peers, professors and faculty supervisors in conversations about the way that digital technologies interact with, change, constrain, open, and/or make more or less accessible particular kinds of learning.

Professional Practice

Definition: Members apply professional knowledge and experience to promote student learning. They use appropriate pedagogy, assessment and evaluation, resources and technology in planning for and responding to the needs of individual students and learning communities. Members refine their professional practice through ongoing inquiry, dialogue and reflection.

Online, preservice teachers can demonstrate professional practice by…

  • Designing online learning activities that are informed by evidence of how people learn, and by their emergent understandings of diverse pedagogical methods that support the development of skills, knowledges and dispositions in face-to-face and in online classroom contexts.
  • Making their pedagogical design choices explicit and inviting conversations with their associate teachers about the evidence that guided their professional practice.
  • Inviting constructive feedback from their associate teachers, practicum supervisors, and students that can help them to refine, improve, strengthen, rethink, and/or re-orient their online teaching methods.

Leadership in Learning Communities

Definition: Members promote and participate in the creation of collaborative, safe and supportive learning communities. They recognize their shared responsibilities and their leadership roles in order to facilitate student success. Members maintain and uphold the principles of the ethical standards in these learning communities.

Online, preservice teachers can demonstrate leadership in learning communities by…

  • Creating opportunities for students to practice online participation in discussion forums or in collaborative cloud-based documents, and by modelling and affirming appropriate participation in online discussions.
  • Seeking out good information through digital networks and sharing resources, and new learning with their associate teacher, peers and faculty supervisors.
  • Finding and participating in digital networks (e.g., through chats, online professional learning opportunities)
  • Creating and sharing resources that may be of value to other educators (including via their digital portfolios).

Ongoing Professional Learning

Definition: Members recognize that a commitment to ongoing professional learning is integral to effective practice and to student learning. Professional practice and self-directed learning are informed by experience, research, collaboration and knowledge.

Online, preservice teachers can demonstrate a commitment to ongoing professional learning by….

  • Curating examples of the professional learning activities in which they have participated on their Digital Hub portfolio.
  • Asking their associate teacher, and faculty supervisor about recommended ongoing professional learning opportunities, especially online.
  • Using online networks and various professional associations to identify spaces and opportunities where they can continue to reflect on pressing questions of professional practice in future.
  • Actively using digital networks to seek out mentorship from colleagues and to develop habits of ongoing professional learning that can inform their practice in future.

Looking for additional resources about online teaching and learning?

We think these resources offer evidence-informed insights of value for our preservice teacher candidates:

Common Sense Media Wide Open School Project : The folks at Common Sense Media have curated a wide range of resources to support teachers in the design and implementation of high-quality, effective online instruction. Teachers filter by the broad level of instruction and can find multimodal resources and recommendations for teaching methods, digital tools and resources that can be included in what they design for their own students.

ISTE Online Learning Resources: The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has curated a set of resources for online teachers that may be of value through phases of planning and practice.

Media Smarts: Canada’s Center for Digital and Media Literacy provides teachers with a range of resources to support the teaching of a broad range of critical digital literacies skills, including in online contexts where, digital media and literacies skills are fundamental.

Hybrid Pedagogy: For critical perspectives on the use of digital tools for teaching and learning, the Hybrid Pedagogy community is an important community to know and follow. They publish a range of resources for educators, and have just recently published a book called Critical Digital Pedagogy — which is an edited collection of articles that take up issues of access and power in digitally mediated classroom spaces.

State of the Nation: K12 E-Learning in Canada : Curated by Dr. Michael Barbour, this website provides access to a range of research reports and data on the state of online learning in the Canadian context. For many years, Dr. Barbour has curated a vast array of data that describe the e-learning programming in every Canadian province. This is not a resource for practical tips, but rather a resource that can inform our understanding of the context for our work as online teachers.

6.2 Reflect

Reflect: Image of person at a pond with trees reflecting in the water

Having reviewed the standards of practice and tips for demonstrating each standard during an online practicum, what challenges do you foresee? Take a minute to think about the elements of these standards that seem, at this moment, to present significant challenge for you. How to you plan to address them during your online practicum?

6.3 Practice

Teacher and Student Hands

For preservice teachers, your instructional practices cannot be designed until you have met your associate teacher and students. That said, having now reviewed all of the modules in this open educational resource, and engaged in a range of reflection and practice activities, it is important to identify two or three big objectives for yourself as you enter into this year of learning in activity, and in practice. When you think about your own strengths and self-identified learning needs, which of these standards of practice seem most important for you to work on? How could you lean into the complexities of some aspect of your professional practice in online contexts this year? As your final “practice” activity, identify two or three goals for yourself. Plan to share them with your faculty supervisor and with your associate teacher as a signal to them of your commitment to learning and to meaningful discussions that will support you in your growth as a teacher.