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Preferred Lists: Are you listed?

Posted on January 13, 2012 by Michelle

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.

113:365 - Casterings Director by Nomadic Lass, flickrCC

Photo by Nomadic Lass, flickrCC.net

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?

Avengers by Dunechaser, flickrCC.net

photo by: Dunechaser, flickrCC.net

  • 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”!

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  1. 21 01 12 22:18

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9 to “Preferred Lists: Are you listed?”

  1. Cheryl says:

    Brilliant and informative with a positive attitude. Excellent

  2. Laura says:

    While the Bluewater DSB may not have an official preferred list, when I was on an LTO a couple of years ago, I was able to request to my VP a specific OT as my first choice replacement, and I believe the system would call that person first, before moving on to others. Whether this still occurs or not, I don’t know, but it was available at my school.

  3. Amanda says:

    An excellent, unbiased post. I understand that priority lists aren’t always fair, but as a permanent classroom teacher I appreciate the consistency that an OT who knows the kids, and knows the class and school routines provides.

  4. I appreciate your comments, Amanda!

    As a “rookie” OT, I could choose to view preferred lists from only one perspective — consistent work opportunities and a chance to better network in a local school. It is beneficial to hear the perspective of a permanent teacher! Your goal is simply to have a familiar face in the classroom, one who has consistently demonstrated quality instruction, adherence to the plans left behind, and a sincere care for your students.

    All too often, I feel, preferred lists have become a point of contention in this competitive market…but if we set our students above all else, wouldn’t we want the best for them and their learning environment?

  5. Tina says:

    I would go bonkers without a ‘preferred list’ or the ability to request a supply. I have literally come back to school with angry notes from parents and reports of tears because of a grumpy supply who was a little less than patient with my self-contained class (obviously a result of playing ‘Russian roulette” with HARRI automated system). It would drastically decrease the amount of times I would enroll in PD, offer to lead a session or even take a sick day if I didn’t know who was coming in for me. Being able to call in a good friend who I know will show genuine care and love to my little ones while I’m away allows me the peace of mind to take a much needed sick day or give my attention to a PD session. Also, it rewards those great OTs who take the time to follow plans, follow up with kids and make the day productive. I am PRO preferred lists! 🙂

  6. Hi Tina!

    I appreciate your comments, and do believe, we may both be familiar with the same school [CRB]!

    It’s a shame your concern for your students and their subsequent supply teacher creates an issue for you to redirect time for professional development.

    What would your advice be for OTs when coming into a self-contained class, such as your own? What are three critical expectations you would have them follow?

    I look forward to hearing yours, and many other LTO and permanent teachers’ feedback on preferred lists!


  7. hiredteacher says:

    Great post. Something to look into for new grads is a few opportunities to get on an unqualified list right out of school. A few of my associates have been able to walk out of Teachers College and right into supplying for May and June. Both of these led directly into Occasional positions for September.
    I’m assuming, just like preferred lists, that boards vary on how this works and if it even does. Never hurts to ask though!

  8. Pamela says:

    Hi, I just happened across your site and what a great idea!! I was on the preferred list with York Region for eight years. I used to be full time, but decided to supply in order to switch off childcare (we have 5 kids) with my husband who works shifts. I was put on the list for a lot of the reasons you mention. Some of these included volunteering my time at the office or library during any preps, coming to school early to make sure I was prepared, making a point of getting to know the kids’ names at the schools I visited regularly, coming prepared for extra lessons in case no plans were left, leaving an informative note for the teacher (including praise for good behaviour), and leaving the classroom VERY clean at the end of the day! It also is great if you can get to know the office staff and you are personable. I love supplying! I have been off for 6 years now (busy with my kids) but am trying to get back on the list. Great website!

  9. satya sivan says:

    Thanks!Great to know how each school board call the supply teachers.Most of the preferred list as far as I know is not fair.

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