Essential Knowledge, Abilities, and Dispositions of a Teacher Candidate

Policy approved by Education Faculty Board, January 2018

Questions? Please contact Student Services,

Instructions for Prospective Teacher Candidates

This document is designed to give individuals who are considering applying for our B.Ed./ Dip.Ed. Programs an overview of the essential knowledge, abilities and dispositions that a Teacher Candidate must possess before beginning a Program.  Please note: Teacher Candidates must continue to exhibit these attributes throughout the time in which they are registered in a Program.  Take time to read this document carefully and exercise due diligence in determining your suitability for the teaching profession. It is understood, by the Faculty of Education, that all Teacher Candidates have read this policy and understand its contents.


Faculties of Education in Ontario are responsible to society for providing programs of study that offer Teacher Candidates the opportunity to acquire the professional knowledge, skills and dispositions needed to teach in our provincial school system.  The professional knowledge, skills and dispositions of a teacher are complex to learn and enact. They can only be built upon a strong foundation that has been formed in advance of a pre-service program of teacher education.  The essential foundational attributes that prospective Teacher Candidates must possess include the cognitive, communicative, sensory/motor, interactional, and time management abilities described below.  In addition, all applicants must be able to meet the ethical and legal requirements outlined in section 6.  The essential attributes that a prospective Teacher Candidate must bring with them upon entry to a Faculty of Education are substantial and are aligned with the far-reaching responsibilities assigned to teachers.  Graduates must be able to take responsibility for the physical safety, psychological health, and educational interests of students, whether children, adolescents, or adults in schools.  Many of the requirements of B.Ed. / Dip.Ed. Programs in Ontario, including the compulsory 80-day practicum, are prescribed in the Ontario College of Teachers Act; only the Teacher Candidates who complete all requirements are eligible for the B.Ed. or Dip.Ed.  Please note: there is no provision for a “non-teaching” or “academic” B.Ed. degree or Dip.Ed. in which courses such as the practicum are optional.

1. Cognitive Abilities: Teacher Candidates must be able to demonstrate subject content knowledge at a level and in a manner that facilitates organization and integration of information, and interpretation and evaluation of ideas. They must be able to be critical thinkers and problem solvers who are thoughtful and energetic learners capable of critical inquiry. 

2. Communicative Abilities: Teacher Candidates on practicum must be able to communicate effectively with students, teachers, principals, parents, educational assistants, and others as needed. In oral communication, Teacher Candidates must be able to communicate with appropriate clarity, volume, vocabulary, and expression in the language of instruction so as to be readily understood by and act as a role model for students. In written communication, Teacher Candidates must be able to complete, in a timely manner, handwritten and computer-generated documents with grammar, syntax and vocabulary sufficient to prepare the documents required of a teacher in a classroom, such as worksheets, tests, quizzes and assignment evaluations. The language of instruction in the B.Ed./ Dip.Ed. Programs at Queen’s University is English. Teacher Candidates must be able to understand spoken word communication in English at a rate consistent with normal conversation and comprehend written documents such as Ontario Ministry of Education Curriculum Documents.  Applicants are advised that the Admissions Policy of the Faculty of Education states that Candidates admitted to a Program who are found to have an unsatisfactory command of the English language, either spoken or written, where their language skills interfere with their ability to communicate effectively in the classroom, may be required to take remedial work or may be required to withdraw from their Program.

3. Sensory/Motor Abilities: Teacher Candidates must possess sufficient sensory function to develop and maintain awareness of all students in the classroom and sufficient motor function to move about the classroom, manage materials and supplies, and demonstrate and supervise classroom activities and, when necessary, school activities.  The Teacher Candidate’s combined sensory/ motor abilities must be sufficient to fulfill the responsibilities and duties involving care for students and student safety, as specified in the Ontario Education Act and other relevant legislation pertaining to teachers.  For example, a reasonable standard for the combined sensory/ motor abilities of a Teacher Candidate would be the ability to initiate and sustain, without prior warning, the marshaling of students and the room-securing procedures in a classroom lockdown in accordance with the specifications found in Ontario school board directives.

4. Emotional/Social/Interactional Abilities: Teacher Candidates must demonstrate the emotional maturity to assess and respond appropriately to the social dynamics of classrooms and schools.  They must be able to interact in a professional manner with students, parents, colleagues, Associate Teachers, faculty members, staff, and administrators. Teacher Candidates must be able to develop rapport with students and appropriate relationships with others in schools, and must be able to demonstrate flexibility and adaptability in the face of the uncertainties inherent in the functioning of schools and classrooms. Integrity, compassion, empathy, care and concern for others, and respect for students and colleagues are expected of teachers and of Teacher Candidates.

5. Ability to Discharge Responsibilities in Institutional Timeframes

Teacher Candidates must be able to complete their assigned tasks in the context of conventional school schedules.  In the practicum setting, Teacher Candidates are required to complete unit planning, lesson planning, lesson delivery, assessment, evaluation and supervision tasks within the timeframes defined by the instructional day and the school calendar.  Being prepared in a timely fashion to teach every day and meeting deadlines are two elements of practice integral to the teaching profession and necessary conditions for the discharge of duties. The considerable time pressures and commitments as outlined may pose challenges to individuals unaccustomed to ongoing stressors.

6. Legal and Ethical Expectations

The public, the Ontario Ministry of Education, the Ontario College of Teachers and the district school boards of Ontario hold teachers and Teacher Candidates to a very high standard of behavior.  Teacher Candidates are entrusted with the instruction and supervision of children and adolescents.  Close contact with these vulnerable populations demands a level of rectitude in current and past behavior that is much higher than that which would be required of individuals in many other occupations and professions.  

While the Faculty of Education, Queen's University, does not require a Vulnerable Sector Police Record Check as a condition of admission, Teacher Candidates require a Police Record Check that includes a “vulnerable sector screening” in order to work with children in schools.  The Police Record Check must be acceptable to the school boards utilized by the Faculty of Education for practicum placements.  If information appears on the Police Record Check that is unacceptable to school boards, the Teacher Candidate would be unable to complete the practicum and would be required to withdraw from their Program. Prospective Teacher Candidates should be confident that the results of their Police Record Check would be acceptable to a school board before applying to a Program.

In addition to the Police Record Check, prospective Teacher Candidates should consider the nature of all text or images that they have published in print or posted in electronic media. Prospective Teacher Candidates should have a public presence that honors equity and individual freedoms.  Public stances that are intolerant of race, culture, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identification are very much at odds with the teaching profession and can result in significant difficulties including termination of a practicum, if brought to light during a practicum component.

Teacher Candidates with Disabilities

The essential skills and abilities described above do not preclude persons with disabilities from entering the Faculty of Education or from becoming qualified teachers.  The Faculty of Education will make every reasonable accommodation to facilitate a Teacher Candidate’s progress. Teacher Candidates with disabilities are required to meet all bona fide academic and professional standards of the B.Ed./ Dip.Ed. Programs. Accommodations may not compromise the safety and well-being of students in classrooms or the academic and professional standards of the Programs. In order to receive academic accommodations, potential Teacher Candidates with disabilities1 should contact the Queen's University Student Wellness Services with appropriate documentation2 as early as possible.

Based on Essential Skills and Abilities by M. McNay, Western University

1Further information on academic disabilities can be found at:

2Further information on academic accommodations and documentation can be found at: