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The Rookie Teacher

The AQ Race

Posted on December 11, 2011 by Natasha

A - alone on the wall  by Eva the Weaver, FlickrCC.nettypewriter key letter Q  by Leo Reynolds

Whether you are a teacher candidate, new to the profession or even a veteran teacher, you probably know, what I call, the “AQ race”. I remember when the push to take AQ (additional qualification) courses began early in my practicum experience.  If you spoke to a new teacher they would tell you that getting your Special Education Part 1 was the key to getting a job, while others began to push the ESL course as a way to market yourself, and still others would promote Reading Part 1.  It wasn’t until talking to a mentor of mine that I was able to step back from “the race” and consider what AQ courses meant to me.

Now, without a boring description of self discovery, I’d love to share my perspective with you in short.  AQ courses are a wonderful way that teachers can become life long learners!  These course offer us an introduction to some of the latest classroom strategies, and better yet a support community.  To rush through a course with the sole intent of using it as a marketing tactic on a resume or point of conversation in an interview simply diminishes the golden value that AQs have to offer.

I look forward to one day enrolling in an AQ course like Reading Part 1 or Technology in the Classroom, when I can take my new learning from one session and apply it the next day to my classroom.  With a community around me that shares in my learning, I’ll seek support, advice and of course share my stories of success and failure.

Coin Question Mark by Sandro PereiraSo, this leads me to asking… What do AQ courses mean to you?  What value do they offer?  Or maybe, you have questions about AQ courses (as I had in teacher’s college, and still have today) and wish to ask them now!

I look forward to hearing from you!

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7 to “The AQ Race”

  1. Mary-Ann Fuduric,OCT (@Mara0090) says:

    Great post! Unfortunately, too many people do use AQ’s to market themselves. I have only taken one AQ so far, Special Education Part 1 for the sole reason that I want to be a spec ed teacher someday. I was lucky enough to land a job at the Learning Disabilities Association where I am applying the material I learned in the Spec Ed 1 class. I’m learning so much more than I could have imagined applying this knowledge. It’s difficult to narrow down what area you want to focus on until you are actually in a classroom of your own. I’ve registered for another senior ABQ (starting in January) to open up the possibility of teaching at a high school. I’m not sure where my futre will take me, but it is nice to have some options. Again, great post!

  2. Michelle says:

    I agree — when thinking of “the AQ Race”, I am reminded of what we teach our students about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for learning. If we are taking these courses to gain an advantage over another simply to get onto a supply list, is this intrinsic professional learning? Or does it matter?

    In truth, I postponed taking AQs until this January, and instead focused my attention on workshops and online learning opportunities that interested me, further differentiating myself from others. This landed me a place on the supply list directly out of teacher’s college — and is what gained the attention of those hiring. My intention is to plan my professional learning goals in light of those being given priority in the board I was hired into — Where is the need? How can I fill that need? Does it interest me? How will it benefit my teaching practice and therefore my students?

    Shouldn’t that be the primary focus for taking AQs– our students?

  3. Tina says:

    I have taken 4 AQ courses since graduating 3 years ago and it was insanely busy! The ones I learned the most from were when I took them during the school year– as you mentioned- learning something and using it the next day.
    However, I have been guilty of taking an AQ just because I needed it for a job– but you gotta do what you gotta do! I think the best choice is to take something you are passionate about as your area of ‘specialization’ can sometimes lead you to areas of leadership in the school.
    Many PD sessions offered during the school year and summer by the board (and most are free or 10$ for resources/snacks) which are SO helpful because they are ‘real’ teachers from your board with specific information and strategies! That could be a good first step for those still deciding on their passion (or paying off student debt!).
    🙂 -T

  4. Mary-Ann Fuduric,OCT (@Mara0090) says:

    What are some PD opportunities for those not on a board’s supply list? Any suggestions? And do you include these on your resume, CL?

  5. Becca says:

    I do agree with you that many people do do this, and I have now taken 7 AQ courses. I took them because I genuinely wanted to get something out of them for my own professional development so I did the readings and I put stuff into it because my theory was I am only going to get out of it what I put in. For some courses this worked, but for others there was just not enough hours in the day to get it all done. Even if I were to read all day and all night I still would not get through the required readings so it came to the point of just doing the bare minimum to get through and this is unfortunate because it means that it becomes just a listing on my OCT certificate. I think there needs to be a huge overhaul of the AQ system as well as an overhaul of the Boards in the sense of consistency. What is it that they want and make it known to all. This would stop the incessant rumour mill of this Board is looking for this or that.

  6. Marsha says:

    I’d like to be honest and tell you that I was so nervous to hear the feedback on this topic since it’s hotly contested amongst OCTs.

    There is great advice that you’ve all added to the discussion… thinking about your passion as a teacher… where you may wish to invest as a leader… and the possibility of professional development outside of AQs (like you said Tina.. a much more dollar-friendly option).

    Speaking of PD opportunities, aside from board organized PD, the only ones I’ve been to have been run by the Royal Botanical Gardens. These sessions were more philosophy based and often discuss the importance of Environmental Education (a very specific topic, indeed). Hopefully we can come across some more…

    Also, I think that these extra PD sessions are great to include on your resume or in your cover letter in some way… Whether listed on a resume or hinted at in your cover letter. It’s the epitome of “teacher as a learner”, right? 🙂

  7. Margaret Champman says:

    I have taken 10 AQs. IMO, I want to just keep learning. I want to be a principal one day and I figure I’d rather know a little bit about everything if I want to lead a school and hire the appropriate people for the positions.

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