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Pitfalls and precautions: Watch your language around students

October 25, 2016 Gaylene Schreiber, ATA Secretary to Professional Conduct Committees

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. The committee dealt with the following case between January and April of 2016.

In the teaching profession it is important to model appropriate school/work place language in the presence of students and not use profanity with students.

A teacher had employed the use of a mild fine system as a penalty for students who swore in class. However, the teacher himself was known to swear on many occasions, in class, to students. He was reprimanded by the employer on several occasions for using the very language for which he had admonished his students. The teacher used the proceeds from the fine system to buy treats for the students.

In its decision, the hearing committee noted that the teacher “legitimized and trivialized the use of profanity in the classroom” and further determined that teachers are expected to establish and maintain an appropriate climate in classrooms in a manner that demonstrates a suitable response to inappropriate behaviour. To do otherwise does not maintain the honour and dignity of the profession. The committee found the member guilty and ordered a letter of severe reprimand to address the situation. ❚

Read more Pitfalls and Precautions articles here.

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