OSSTF/FEESO 101 for Teacher Candidates

Rights and Duties of OSSTF/FEESO Associate Members · Professional Conduct Guidelines



Professional Conduct Guidelines

Making the transition from being a student to the professional teaching role is sometimes difficult. As students, you spent long periods of time in schools, and so it is tempting to think that you know the norms of behaviour that are appropriate. However, the standards of behaviour for teachers are quite different from those demanded of students, and in fact are higher than the standards of behaviour for the general adult public because teachers hold a position of public trust.

The Ontario College of Teachers also expects teachers to behave professionally and to respect professional boundaries. Complaints made against teachers for professional misconduct are taken seriously and could result in an investigation and possibly a discipline hearing. Penalties could be anything from a caution to a suspension or even revocation of one’s teaching license.

A good place to start in terms of what OSSTF/FEESO expects of its members, whether statutory or associate members, in terms of professional conduct is our own Constitution and Bylaws, and in particular Internal Policy 1 — Ethics (which in many ways are similar to the expectations of the OCT’s ethical standards.) Here are several of the most pertinent ones:

1.1 The Motto
  (Let us not take thought for our separate interests, but let us help one another).
1.2 The Pledge
1.2.2 I will strive to achieve and maintain the highest degree of professional competence and will always uphold the honour, dignity, and ethical standards of my profession.
1.3 A Statement of Ethics
1.3.3 The member's professional conduct should be characterized by courtesy and good faith, and should imply the obligation to refrain from public criticism of the member's colleagues.
1.3.5 The member should endeavour to eliminate any behaviour that undermines the dignity or self-esteem of an individual, or which creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.
1.4  Principles of Professional Conduct
1.4.2 Overall, “[i]n all relationships with colleagues, students, parents and other members of the community, the member shall strive to uphold the honour, dignity and ethical standards of the profession.”

In other words, treat all of your educational co-workers with courtesy and respect, as you wish to be treated in return. Gossiping about other staff members and about students must always be avoided.

If you have a profile on a social networking site such as Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest to name just a few, never invite students to be your “friend” nor accept students as “friends”. It would also be a very good idea to go over your profile and ensure that your privacy controls are limited and that you remove any content or photographs which you would not want your colleagues, students, their parents, or prospective employers to see. There have been cases in Ontario school boards where teachers have been reprimanded or disciplined for comments or photographs that they (or their friends) have posted on such sites. In other cases, people looking for jobs have been passed over because employers have found questionable content on job applicants’ profiles. Better safe than sorry!

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