“Teaching is about inspiring and encouraging young people”. Interview with Tarek Aziz, Educator

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Tarek Aziz is a holder of a bachelor’s degree in English Arts and Education and is a seasoned educator from Egypt. He moved to Manitoba in May, 2016 and quickly established his teaching career. Tarek currently has four teaching jobs: newcomer orientation facilitator at Entry Program; educational assistant for the Goal Program, an adult literacy program at Elmwood Community and Resource Centre; substitute teacher in three Winnipeg school divisions; and the lead facilitator of the Nobody’s Perfect – Dads’ Program at MOSAIC. If he looks familiar to you, it may be because he has been featured twice in a University of Manitoba piece about the settlement of newcomers, Elmwood Community Resource Center’s Facebook Page talking about Goal, and in a webinar hosted by Settlement Online Pre-Arrival (see Community Resources below). A true educator, Tarek enthusiastically shares his experiences and learnings for the benefit of newcomers despite his full schedule.

English Online (EO): First off, you have four jobs and you mentioned that you teach from 9 am until 8 pm. You must really love teaching! Can you tell us what you like about your job?
Tarek Aziz (TA): Oh no, I just work until 7 pm. Besides, the facilitator job with MOSAIC is casual and seasonal.

I feel that I was born to be a teacher, especially after the miracle that happened to me when I was trying to choose which university to go to after high school. It is a long story I told in the webinar hosted by SOPA. In short, it was an act of my Lord that I chose this career. After taking up my course, I found that I had a strong passion for it, realizing the great impact it has on the learners and how it can change the course of their lives. I can remember some bad teachers I had in my childhood and how their actions affected me negatively. But I can also remember the inspiring and encouraging teachers who had a great influence on me.

What I like most about this job is that if you like what you are doing and love your learners, you can get that kind of rapport that satisfies your hunger for success. When you see the appreciation and respect in your student’s eyes, you feel that you are doing something that is more than teaching. It’s about inspiring and encouraging young people.

EO: Do you need to have a licence for all teaching positions? Or is it just for Kindergarten to Grade 12?
For teaching in public schools you have to get a Provisional Professional Certificate (valid for three years) or a Permanent Professional Certificate. For the Permanent Professional Certificate, you need to complete the number of credit hours of work the evaluating body (PCSRU) will ask you to finish. You can still work as an educational assistant if you do not have this licence, but you have to have a teaching background.

To work in adult education, you will need a TESOL certificate which can take up to six months of study. I did not need this since I volunteered and also had experience from my home country. They also took into consideration my considerable general teaching experience so I got hired.

For the facilitator job, you do not need a licence for that. You can take a training workshop and then you can do it.

EO: What is the advantage of having a license? Are there a lot more opportunities open to you?
To have a licence makes you eligible to apply at different school divisions to work as a substitute teacher or as an educational assistant. I should say that the competition has become more intense now. However, I did get an offer for a short term position at a Winnipeg School Division that I had to decline because, by that time, I had already signed contracts with the two agencies I am working with now. But this is not the typical case. I know teachers who have been here for more than five years who are not as fortunate to get such offers. I think that having a licence expands your opportunities.

“The quicker you learn and adapt, the sooner you can fit in the new job market and your workplace. I personally had extensive professional experience back home, but it would be useless if you don’t fit in and understand the new culture.”

English Online (EO): How did you start preparing for your registration and licensing process as an internationally-educated teacher? Could you please share with us the steps you went through?
First of all, I used the Manitoba.gov website Professional Certification for Internationally Educated Teachers to know all the procedures and the required documents for the assessing process. After knowing all the required documents, I started to prepare them.

First, I downloaded the application forms to fill out and sent them to the Professional Certification and Student Records Unit (PCSRU). Then, I prepared the translated transcripts to be sent in a sealed envelope from the university that issued them. I also sent a letter of Statement of Standing and Work Experience form signed from my workplace.

Recently, there has been a change in the evaluation of transcripts. Now, they will be asked to send official transcripts to WES (directly by the institution which issued them). It will be evaluated before you can send the report to PCSRU to continue the procedure. This is why it is important for newcomers to get up-to-date information before starting the process. They should research on the licensure procedures when they decide to come to Manitoba.

EO: Did you start the process in your home country?
Yes, I did. This saved me a lot of time since everything was ready for my application, except for the Child Abuse Registry check and Criminal Records check, both of which require being in Canada in person to get them.

EO: Is your licence recognized in all the provinces in Canada?
It would be wise for newcomers to connect with the certification agency in the specific province they plan on working in. According to the Canadian Teachers Federation, “education does not fall within the scope of federal jurisdiction – it is the singular responsibility of each province or territory. Each province and territory has the power to establish its own autonomous education system and to make all decisions regarding schools, teachers and curriculum pertaining to education within the specific province/territory”. If they need more information on teacher licensure in Canada, they can go to: Certification regulations by province/territory (Canadian Teachers’ Federation).

EO: What were some of your biggest challenges in the process?
Getting the official Statement of Standing and the experience form can be quite challenging. These kinds of documents are not so common in some countries or they can be issued under different names. It can be different from one country to another, as each one has its own category of documents. They can be different from what PCSRU requires.

EO: What tips can you give someone who is looking to earn their teacher licensure/registration in MB?
First of all, use the Manitoba website (Professional Certification for Internationally Educated Teachers) to know about all the procedures and the required documents for the assessment process. As I have experienced, it pays to start researching about the requirements early, while you’re still in your home country so that you can gather all the documents that you need faster.

EO: Is there a demand for teachers in Manitoba? Would you recommend for internationally-educated and trained teachers to practice their profession here?
Although the competition has become intense, compared to other professions, I can say teachers can get a lot of opportunities in MB. If you have good skills and the passion to teach, you can be hired quickly. I encourage internationally-educated and trained teachers to practice teaching here. The pay is quite good compared to other professions.

EO: What do you think are the most important skills or qualities a newcomer teacher has to have in order to succeed in Manitoba?
I would say the ability to adapt and absorb details quickly. The quicker you learn and adapt, the sooner you can fit in the new job market and your workplace. I personally had extensive professional experience back home, but all your experience would be useless if you don’t fit in and understand the new culture. My experience of teaching in Egypt is completely different from teaching here in Canada. The main thing is applying your skills and previous experience and model them in the Canadian format.

EO: Are there organizations in MB newcomer teachers can go for help or assistance for licensure? Does the government have supports?
I think there some agencies that can give some help or advise you about the things you should do to get your licence. Manitoba Start and Immigrant Centre can help with that. You can also visit the Canada Job Bank (Explore Careers) to get more information about teaching in Canada.

Disclaimer: English Online shares stories of newcomers who have successfully achieved their licensure or certification for the purpose of encouraging other newcomers who are aspiring to practice their regulated professions in Manitoba. As personal circumstances, credentials, and experiences vary from person to person, the experience related in the feature may not be the same for all aspirants. Also, rules, eligibility requirements and procedures may have changed from the time the featured professional completed their licence to the time the story was published. Therefore, it is important that internationally-educated and trained professionals contact and connect with their respective professional associations or regulatory bodies to get up-to-date information. English Online does not provide credential assessment or qualifications recognition services.

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Community Resources

To find out more about teaching in Manitoba, download Teaching in Manitoba: Information for Internationally educated teachers.

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