1706621201 UQAM is offering a Fast Track for teachers starting in

UQAM is offering a Fast Track for teachers starting in September –

“I am against the idea of ​​awarding a patent at a discount,” the dean of the Faculty of Education at UQAM Jean Bélanger bluntly told the Journal de Québec in February 2023.

Subsequently, Jean Bélanger, as President of the Association of Deans of Faculties of Education (ADÉREQ), responded to Minister Bernard Drainville's seven priorities (including the creation of a fast track).

The dean made no secret of this: he was very perplexed and had the feeling that things were happening too quickly. He admits that Minister Drainville's departure had a shock effect.

Despite his reluctance, the man, who has more than 20 years of experience in the UQAM education department, wanted to fight the teacher shortage, but not in any way, he indicates.

Jean Bélanger appealed to all faculty professors saying: Something must be done. “I raised my hand and everything happened very quickly,” says Elaine Turgeon, head of the Undergraduate Programs Unit in Preschool and Primary Education (ÉPEP).

A didactics teacher at the University of Quebec in Montreal smiles into the camera

Open in full screen mode

Élaine Turgeon helped design the new UQAM program, which has just been approved internally for an official launch in fall 2024.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Patrick André Perron

“We had a desire to contribute and help in our own way,” she adds.

[Si on ne fait pas ça]we leave people who are not trained behind in the classroom and take the risk that [leurs élèves] If we don't do the necessary learning, they fall behind and then we have a social problem.

Élaine is really the idea behind the project, emphasizes Jean Bélanger.

This is how UQAM’s “Specialized Higher Studies Diploma” (DESS) was created with 30 credits, part-time over two years. This will be the first program to allow teachers to quickly become qualified through in-person training, rather than entirely remote like other existing options.

TÉLUQ offers a 30-credit program to qualify non-legally qualified teachers who are already teaching primary school teachers. However, training is entirely remote. The same applies to the University of Quebec Fast Track in Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT), which is aimed at secondary education.

However, the training courses at UQAM, TÉLUQ and UQAT have one thing in common: they are aimed at teachers who are not legally qualified, i.e. teachers already employed in the school network.

According to the latest figures from the Department for Education, more than 7,000 non-legally qualified people currently have a full-time or part-time contract. Including replacement workers, that number rises to 30,000, according to Quebec's auditor general.

With these people we can move much faster than with students who have just left CEGEP, who are 19 years old and do not necessarily have experience with primary classes and elementary school students, explains Elaine Turgeon.

“It’s training in action,” she continues.

To be admitted to UQAM, future graduates must already have a bachelor's degree and have been selected by the school service center, which will employ them with a workload of at least 60%.

Currently, the Pointe-de-l'Île School Service Center (CCSSPI) is the only school service center collaborating with UQAM on this project.

Promising results according to UQAM and CSSPI

Eight students have been taking part in a pilot project since the end of summer 2023, which enables the program offered in the fall to be further developed. They are all non-legally qualified teachers at a CSSPI school in east Montreal.

According to CSSPI, the formula chosen by UQAM offers a unique advantage: the students are supervised by a team from the university. After completing the courses or listening to the video clips, you are not left to your own devices. Around twenty UQAM professors are already supervising future graduates in their courses. In other words, not everything rests on the shoulders of the already overburdened CSSPI school teams.

“We call it supervised practice,” explains Elaine Turgeon. “The program consists of multidisciplinary courses that revolve around the highlights of an entire school year, such as preparing for exams and submitting certificates, rather than following the traditional logic of 45-hour single-topic courses,” adds them added.

It's not just about getting the work, it's also about ensuring that this legal qualification is linked to skills development […] with all the rigor that a university education requires, explains Martin Duquette, Deputy Director General of the CSSPI.

Is our program at UQAM unique? I think so. We found a formula that suits us and seems to be working well so far.

Martin Duquette is careful not to take shots at universities that are still resistant to short courses, but still takes the liberty of calling for greater flexibility from universities.

Martin Duquette, deputy general manager of the Pointe-de-l'Île School Service Center (CCSSPI), in a hallway at Simone Desjardins Elementary School.

Open in full screen mode

Martin Duquette, deputy general manager of the Pointe-de-l'Île School Service Center (CCSSPI).

Photo: Radio-Canada / Patrick André Perron

It's not about leveling, but about maintaining standards, but about flexibility that better corresponds to today's reality, he says.

A program “tailored to my needs”

And Nassima Menour, one of the eight students in the UQAM pilot project, knows something about how relevant this flexibility is.

The native Algerian, who already teaches three classes at CSSPI and is aiming to train as a teacher, is also the mother of three children.

A trained hydrogeologist and engineer like her husband, she came to Quebec with her family in 2009. He refocused on nursing. She threw herself into the education sector, even though she knew full well that the demand for workers there was enormous.

Nassima quickly fell in love with working with children and developed the desire to become a primary school teacher. During her interview to become a substitute teacher, CSSPI immediately recommended that she pursue her teaching certificate.

I said to myself: This is impossible! I can't commit to a bachelor's degree because it depends too much on family and work. […] She says it will remain representative work.

But when she heard about UQAM's 30-credit pilot project, she accepted the offer.

Then I said to myself: This is an opportunity like never before, we can't miss it!

She appreciates the personal support from UQAM teachers. “My questions are answered quickly and I can quickly proceed with the implementation in class. »

A primary school teacher in her class, completing her qualification, smiles

Open in full screen mode

Nassima Menour is enthusiastic about the first courses so far in this new UQAM program and the support offered.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Patrick André Perron

It is a program that is truly tailored to me and my needs. This training will equip me and allow me to perform my job at 100% and provide quality services.

Qualify quickly and pay attention to the quality of the training

According to Martin Duquette, the challenge is to train these extraordinary people who raise their hands realistically and according to their already busy schedules.

Because these people will become more and more valuable in the coming years.

We haven't seen anything about the shortage yet.

A UQAM teacher, seen from behind, gives a lesson to a small group of student teachers.

Open in full screen mode

Élaine Turgeon teaches pilot project participants, including Nassima Menour, on a Saturday afternoon.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Patrick André Perron

According to the latest forecasts from the Ministry of Education, taking into account the current number of teaching graduates and increasing retirements, there will be a shortage of more than 14,000 teachers within four years, of which 6,000 will be full-time or part-time, i.e. an average of 3,600 per year.

The dean of the Faculty of Education at UQAM, Jean Bélanger, dreams of ultimately qualifying almost a hundred teachers per year with this new program. A modest number, he agrees, but realistic to ensure the quality of training, which is significantly shorter.

UQAM is also in the process of revising its high school diploma, which leads to preschool and primary school teacher certificates.

There could be a faster way, but without neglecting the goal of ensuring that so-called qualified people actually have the qualifications they are supposed to have. “I won’t let go of this piece,” he continues.

We agreed to take the risk of moving forward so quickly because of course we were pushed behind our backs, but perhaps at some point all programs need to be cleaned up [créés au Québec depuis la sortie du ministre Drainville]he warns.

An amendment added to Bill 23 – Minister Bernard Drainville's major education reform – officially allows short courses at UQAT, TÉLUQ and UQAM to lead to teaching certificates.

The graduates are initially issued with a probationary teaching license. According to the Ministry of Education, they must then complete a probationary period of 600 to 900 hours under the responsibility of the employer before they can receive their teaching diploma.