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As a professional, you must mind what you say


April 27, 2021 Chris Gibbon, ATA Secretary to Professional Conduct Committees


We’ve all heard the saying, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Well, with that in mind, there are some things you just don’t say about your colleagues, let alone text or email.

After discovering that there would be a reduction in the teaching staff at his school, a continuing contract teacher texted his colleague, on a temporary contract, and advised her that her teaching position would likely not be renewed for the following school year. The decision to offer another contract or inform a teacher that their contract will not be renewed is the responsibility of the school administration and not a teacher colleague. 

Further to that, the teacher went on to make very vulgar and derogatory comments about the school administration in texting his colleague. These vulgar comments were grossly inappropriate and failed to maintain the honour and dignity of the profession. 

To make matters worse, the same teacher went on to make derogatory comments, via text message, about another teacher in his school and question that teacher’s competence. Teachers who have concerns about another teacher’s competency or reputation have an obligation under the Code of Professional Conduct to speak to that teacher, in confidence, before reporting their concerns to the proper officials. In this case, the teacher’s comments were not valid and besmirched the character of his colleague.

Teachers must be sure to follow the code and always report concerns to their colleagues first and do so in a respectful and professional manner. Further, teachers should never make derogatory comments about their colleagues, let alone use social media or electronic mail to further spread them. ❚

Pitfalls and Precautions is a series that aims to educate teachers on professional conduct issues by highlighting situations addressed by the ATA Professional Conduct Committee.


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