Teach Latin

What do Potential Candidates need to know?

Currently, the job market for teaching in Ontario is very poor. Retirements are slowing down and the reduction of the student population by more than 45 000 students in the past five years is placing an extraordinary burden on classrooms and schools across Ontario. The current decline in the economy means two things for education: a reduction in funding for schools and an increase in applications at Faculties of Education. The reality is that the jobs are not there to greet those graduates. In 2007, approximately 1/3 of B.Ed. graduates were able to secure jobs. Classics majors interested in teaching Latin must be prepared that the road ahead will be long and that they must be prepared to start new Latin programmes rather than relying on retirements to create the job pool.

What does that mean for Latin?

Retirements in Latin jobs have slowed as well. The interest present, especially as the Ministry’s Literacy initiatives were being rolled out, is there but eclipsed by student shortages, and the Ministry’s enormous student success initiatives which are taking the focus from academic courses and placing it on co-op education programmes, the new Specialist High Skills Major and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Programme. The struggle for the Ontario Classical Association and young teachers will be in ensuring that administrators see the value of Latin courses as assistive to other areas of the curriculum and creating new Latin programmes where none existed before- a daunting task in the face of budgetary cutbacks. This will require more innovative approaches, exceptionally dedicated teachers and a great deal of patience.

Young teachers have to recognise that they may not find a Latin job in Ontario upon graduation. If Latin is their preferred course to teach, they may be looking at moving to the United States or the United Kingdom where the demands are still quite high. Teachers are encouraged to contact the American Classical League (US) or the Classical Association (UK) for further details. Teachers who wish to stay in Ontario must consider moving to the board in which the Latin job is located and accepting a part-time contract for the time being.

What Academic Background is Required for a B.Ed.?

Candidates who are interested in becoming Latin teachers must consider a broader academic background than their peers who are seeking admission to other “mainstream” teachable subjects. The current educational environment requires teachers at the secondary level to be more flexible in their academic qualifications to meet the ever-changing demands imposed by student interest and the Ministry of Education’s initiatives. Individuals seeking admission to Bachelor of Education, whether in Classical Studies: Latin/Greek, or another degree are strongly encouraged to consider the following:

  • 5 full-year credit (30) courses in Latin *
  • 4 full-year credit (24) courses in Greek and/or Classics *
  • 3 full-year credit (18) courses (minimum) in a mainstream “teachable” subject such as French, English, History (ensure 2 credits Canadian), Math, etc.

*Please note that the two most saturated fields in high school teaching are English and history; if possible, choose credits in drama, geography or French- candidates with French are highly sought Minimum B+ grade point average (an Honour Specialist course, taken after the B. Ed. is granted, requires 2 years teaching plus 9 courses in the field of specialty; in Classical Studies, candidates must complete these 9 full-year credits with the courses listed above).

What are AQ and HS courses?

An AQ course is an Additional Qualification course. It is equivalent to the course work done in a specific subject area during the pre-service of a Bachelor of Education. It covers 120 hours of pedagogical techniques used to teach a particular subject. AQ courses are offered by Faculties of Education and, as a result of newly passed legislation, Subject Associations may also design and offer these courses.

An HS course is an Honour Specialist course. This is regulated by the Ministry of Education and so, the criteria are set by the Ministry. An HS course designates a teacher as an expert in a specific area of curriculum. It is required for teachers to move into the top pay category on the salary grid as well as for promotion to Department Leader. It is also one of the criteria which can be used by those seeking to become Vice-Principals and Principals. The requirements are quite stringent. A candidate must have TWO years of teaching experience, MINIMUM, with a minimum of ONE year’s experience teaching in the subject in which qualification is sought. A Supervisory Officer’s signature at the Board in which the teacher is employed is required to confirm he experiential component. In addition, the candidate is encouraged to inform OSSTF of their intention to complete this course (Intention to Change Categories) as it will require OSSTF to validate the category change.

The next step is for the candidate to ensure that s/he has completed the required credits- 9 FULL YEAR credits in the subject area. This means 9 full credits in math or English etc. In 1997, after 4 years of negotiations with the assistance of OSSTF and QECO, the Ministry opened up O.Reg. 297E which allowed a change to the credits required for Classicists to be entered into the legislation. Teachers of Latin are required to complete 9 full-year credits made up of 5 full-year Latin and a combination of 4 full-year Greek/Classical Studies courses.

Teachers who do not have the required academic background are encouraged to complete the credits via on-line or distance education courses. Please note that the host facility of this course cannot alter the academic or experiential requirements nor can the OCA.

What Experience is Required for Admission to a B.Ed.?

Candidates for any Bachelor of Education course must volunteer for a MINIMUM of two years during their undergraduate or graduate degree. Candidates should volunteer to work with students of the age group they hope to teach and as classroom assistants in a secondary school. Candidates interested in teaching Latin are encouraged to volunteer to work with a teacher of a Latin programme (see Board listings for schools offering these programmes in Ontario).

Other appropriate placements include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Community centre providing youth programmes, before/after school programmes.
  • Coaching
  • Day camps as counsellor
  • Literacy programmes, etc.
  • Scouts/Guides of Canada

In order to volunteer to work with students under the age of 18, you may be required to complete a Criminal Background check including a Vulnerable Sector screening before you can begin your volunteer work.

What is the Application Procedure?

  1. Contact all Faculties of Education six months prior to application for information about their Bachelor or Education programmes, specific course requirements, and necessary documentation.
  2. Contact the Ontario University Application Centre for appropriate forms (TEAS- Teacher Education Application Service) and apply well ahead of the deadline (usually late November/early December)
  3. Select at least three Faculties; the first choice must be Faculty of Education offering the B.Ed. in Classical Studies: Latin; be sure to select the other degree option for which you are qualified at the alternate choices.
  4. Select degree Primary/Junior (JK-grade 4), Junior/Intermediate (grades 4-10), Intermediate/Senior (grades 7-12). Classicists select the latter. Be aware that candidates with degrees in Classics often are admitted to a B. Ed programme in History or English, depending on academic background.
  5. Indicate programme: e.g. pre-service Bachelor of Education, I/S Classical Studies; and appropriate alternate degree (e.g. I/S History/English).
  6. Indicate appropriate second teachable subject (e.g. English, History, etc.).
  7. Ask a professor or teacher to read and comment upon the entrance essay for the inclusion of appropriate terminology and to ensure the essay is error free.
  8. Be sure to keep a record of ALL volunteer experience completed prior to application- this includes letters of reference.

What if Admission is Denied?

  1. Ensure that all application procedures have been carefully followed.
  2. Contact university and request a formal review; be prepared to pursue this to the Dean.
  3. Consider up-grading by taking extra courses in the major and minor teachable subjects at the undergraduate level or by pursuing a Master’s degree.
  4. Contact the Certification Committee of the Ontario Classical Association for direction.
  5. Complete further volunteer work which may include volunteering in a Latin classroom.

What if you don’t have access to a secondary Latin Programme for volunteering?

There are many candidates who want to teach Latin but do not have access to a high school which has a Latin programme. Consider the following options:

  1. Contact the principal of a local school and offer to teach Latin as an enrichment programme for Gifted students, English students or French students.
  2. Contact a teacher of ancient history and offer to teach Latin as a supplement to his/her course.
  3. Contact the principal and offer to start a Classics Club in which you teach the students Latin.
  4. Work with the Classics Department within your university to establish an enrichment programme for interested secondary school students – this could be held in May for a week, like the Mini-enrichment programme at Queen’s University; it could stretch over a two-week period in the summer, like science or music camps held at many universities; it could be offered once a week for a year through the Classics Department.
  5. Contact Co-ordinators of Languages at your local Board office (this position may have a different title depending on the Board). Ask about “Heritage Language” Programmes which are offered on Saturdays. Perhaps the Italian or Spanish instructor will allow you to offer supplemental instruction in Latin. Perhaps the Co-ordinator will consider offering Latin as a part of this programme.
  6. Contact local Italian community group to enlist its support.
  7. Contact local Roman Catholic Church in order to assess its interest in offering Latin classes to its members.
  8. Be sure to enlist the help of the Classics Department to advocate for you.

These suggestions will be labour-intensive and time-consuming but they will indicate your dedication to Latin, your ingenuity, initiative and work ethic to the Registrar of the Faculty of Education and they will help establish Latin programmes at the secondary level where there were none before. This could lead to a future job!