Our son is currently teaching in the Arctic, in a town of 500, in Northern Quebec. After graduating from Althouse College (University of Western Ontario) three years ago, (a school requiring exceptional entry grades and, even, experience), he qualified for the Thames Valley board's supply teachers list, but after several months, was never called. The glowing report cards from the mentors he taught under were obviously false, but make for nice keepsakes, I suppose! The Katavik Board of Education, from Northern Quebec, contacted him in late November of that year. Their board had talked to graduating Althouse students the previous spring. They wondered if he would travel north for a month, to fill in for a teacher on sick leave. The idea of real teaching experience was enhanced by the thought of seeing the Arctic, so he said yes, and we scrambled to get him packed (food included as we didn't know what would be available up there) and off he went, to the tiny village of Tasiujaq (pop 200), Quebec. After a two-day journey on four different planes he arrived, and began teaching the very next day. The experience was unique, and he managed to survive until Christmas, when he was asked to return in January, to replace another 'sick' teacher. Two years later, with no openings in the Thames Valley Board, he is still up in the Arctic, in a slightly larger village, Kangiqsujuaq (pop 500) on a full-time basis. He has had to adapt the maths and science courses he teaches, in order to make them applicable to the Inuit students. Of course, that required much re-writing of texts, so lesson planning took up most of his first year. Adjustment has taken some time, but he has found the northern people very accepting, and he has taken part in several community events, including coaching some students for competition in the Inuit Games, recently held in Northern Alberta.Though not a rule, I'm sure this experience is not unique. I can't speak for the board and their hiring practices, but have learned over the years this board does at times hire those with teaching experience outside the norm. There were also years where they hired a larger percentage of D'Youville College (Buffalo) grads as that college was doing more work on early language and literacy than Ontario faculties were. This wasn't reflected in the hiring stats for 2009-10, but boards likely have a better lay of the land on grads than their faculties some times do.
Going north (or west) might be something to consider before going abroad, but it still doesn't answer the question of why the colleges accept so many students, only to turn them loose with virtually no job prospects near their home base! We would love to have our son closer, and miss him a lot. On the other hand, it has been a life experience you really can't argue with. The downside of the story comes right back to the problem of 'teaching' experience required by the Thames Valley board. Will they see the teaching and life experiences he is getting in an Inuit community, relevant to teaching down here?
After all, after hiring, boards have only a few years to put teachers through the New Teacher Induction Program, where the hires get all kinds of additional experience in program, classroom management, etc. and the benefit of a teacher-mentor to shadow and learn from.