Given the number of inquiries and misconceptions about OT [occasional teacher] opportunities, it is my hope this post will help to provide some clarity in relation to the preferred lists in Ontario school boards.
What is a preferred list, you might ask? In some boards, OTs can request to be added to a school’s list for “guaranteed” supply opportunities, placing them in priority sequence. In order to be added, they must have previous placement or work experience at the school. The purpose is simple – quality classroom consistency. Rather than sending requests through the internal callout system, teachers, administrators, and school secretaries may book specific OTs in advance. These lists, however, can be difficult to gain access to and often invoke the “it’s all in who you know” argument among those who have yet to be placed on a preferred list.
Preferred lists, however, are highly dependent on the OT locals’ collective agreement. In many cases, school boards have disposed of these internal preferred or emergency supply lists in favour of an automated system, which call out in a rotational, alphabetical or qualifications-based order. The following school boards have confirmed they do not offer internal preferred lists:
- Limestone District School Board
- Durham Catholic District School Board
- Greater Essex County District School Board
- Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board
- Simcoe County District School Board
- Bluewater District School Board
- Bruce Grey Catholic District School Board
In York Region District School Board and in Peel District School Board, the number of teaching staff at each school determines the percentage of OTs listed – 15% of elementary staff and 10% of secondary staff can be placed on the preferred list. The school must submit the names of these preferred OTs to the board office, who are then given priority in the call out system. If you are successful in gaining access to these preferred lists, you are, however, limited to 2 schools, and will be removed if offered an LTO or permanent position.
In the District School Board of Niagara, school administrators may input jobs though the SEMS system directly to the preferred OT. Unlike YRDSB, there is no formal application process, rather it occurs through word of mouth.
While Avon-Maitland District School Board discourages the use of preferred lists given it can “tie up” the call out system, principals are entitled to setting up their own independent of the HR system.
In Wellington Catholic District School Board, while teachers may not request OTs, both school administrators and the secretaries may request a supply teacher. However, the board operates a fair call out procedure in that if one OT receives more calls than others, it can be limited. Similar to WCDSB, teachers and administrators in the Trillium Lakeheads District School Board can place [up to three] requests for specific OTs. However, if they are unavailable, the call is rerouted to the dispatcher, as opposed to an automated call out system.
The Waterloo District School Board and Halton District School Board make allowances for preferred lists, based on the recommendations of permanent teachers.
The question then remains, how do I get on to a preferred list?
- Make yourself known when you are in the school – introduce yourself to the staff and administrators! Lend a hand wherever needed. Socialize in the staff room. Leave contact information!
- Carefully FOLLOW the lesson plans left by the permanent teacher!
- DO leave a note or send an informative email to follow up after the day. DON’T leave a novel!
- Ask about preferred lists and the procedures. Upon request, send your resume to the school administrator and show your interest in returning to their school!
- Be sincere in all intentions – the school secretary and administrators do not wish to be bribed with chocolates, cards, and candies!
Are you on a preferred list? If so, what was your experience – please share! Regardless, I would love to hear your thoughts on preferred lists. Let’s help to minimize these misconceptions and educate one another in our journeys as “rookie teachers”!