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This week’s Expert Contributor: Dr. Kathy Hibbert, Associate Dean
Dear Teacher Candidates,
It has come to my attention recently that some of our TCs are engaging on a FB account that includes making disparaging remarks about either a peer, a program or an instructor. You will recall from all of our orientation, T2P and Pin Ceremony presentations that we have repeatedly stressed that this is a professional school, and that you are indeed entering the profession now, while in our Faculty. This means that you have to be incredibly mindful of how you conduct yourself. As you know, technology allows us to chat within groups, and you may be under the false assumption that those groups are all like-minded TCs. Please re-think this. Screens from the FB group have been captured and shared by other TCs who are dismayed by the lack of professionalism that has been shown by a few.
The Ontario College of Teachers issued an advisory reminding all of us that teaching is a public profession. “Canada’s Supreme Court ruled that teachers’ off-duty conduct, even when not related to students, is relevant to their suitability to teach. Members must maintain a sense of professionalism at all times, in their personal and professional lives”.
Some of you may recall four years ago, when Dalhousie University cancelled the Dentistry exams and suspended 13 students from clinical practice over comments made on a ‘secret’ FB account. Ultimately, what is on social media comes to light either by design or by accident. Let’s spend our time instead on focusing on how to use technology thoughtfully and purposefully in service to our teaching.
I also want to mention that I circulated through the T2P sessions offered this week, and was disappointed by the low turn-out. T2P (Transition to Professional Practice) provides you with really useful and important opportunities to learn about the profession, and engages organizations and individuals who put a great deal of time and effort in to coming to work with you. Attending T2P is not optional. All licensed teachers participate in mandatory professional development. We will monitor the situation closely over the year, and work with the ESC to see if we need to change our practices.
Finally, I know that classes are well underway. I appreciate those of you who have stopped by our office to tell us what is going well in your programs, and I hope you pass that information along to your instructors. Certainly, as always, if something is not going as well as we might like, I remind everyone, that as professionals, your first obligation is to make an appointment with your instructor to have a respectful and professional dialogue. As the OTF, ETFO, OSSTF and OECTA representatives have all told you, professional integrity in teaching means that you do not disparage a colleague (or instructor) at any time, in any format. We value the dignity of our students, as well as our faculty and will work together to try and resolve any differences or challenges that may arise.