It is my firm belief, that of all professions, teaching is the most important of them. The teaching profession is noble, honourable and marked by benevolence. In the community, the teaching profession should be respected, valued and viewed as the foundation of our society. As members of this great profession, we are aware of the many professional obligations we need to fulfill. The document that is of the singularly greatest significance to the teaching profession is The Code of Professional Practice. The Code clearly states the professional expectations of all members and all members are bound by the Code.
The Code (which appears later in this issue) is the minimum standard of Professional Practice for teachers. The Code of Professional Practice does not set a standard for teachers to strive to achieve, but rather, teachers must achieve this standard at all times! Being unaware of the Code and the related obligations it places upon all members is not an excuse. Neither is the absence of intent when the Code is violated. At all times “A teacher’s professional behaviour must reflect the spirit as well as the letter of the Code”.
The Code of Professional Practice lists the professional obligations that we must meet. For instance, the Code states that:
“A member first directs any criticism of the professional activity and related work of a colleague to that colleague in private. Only after informing the colleague of the intent to do so, the complainant may direct in confidence the criticism to appropriate officials through the proper channels of communication.”
This aspect of the Code is not intended to restrict communication, but rather to enhance it. Simply put, all members must treat each other in a manner that they, themselves, would want to be treated. By clearly stating the expectations for communicating with colleagues, the Code requires that the highest degree of professionalism be maintained in our thoughts, actions and deeds. With all members following this aspect of the Code, communication is upfront, transparent and succinct. Eliminated are the destructive possibilities created by rumour, innuendo and gossip. With all members following this stated professional obligation, the highest standard of member professionalism is maintained by the membership itself.
The previous example is but one of the required standards of conduct from the Code for all members of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society. By being familiar and abiding with the Code, members are fulfilling their professional obligations and, at the same time, preventing contraventions of the Code. As well, abiding by The Code of Professional Practice protects members in other areas as well.
Abiding by the Code considerably lessens, if not completely eliminates, violations of the Collective Agreement, violations of privacy rights and violations of Workplace Safety and Health legislation. For instance, the Code specifically states that all members adhere to Collective Agreements. Other points of the Code deal with privacy and the confidential nature of information. As well, if our conduct is always characterized by consideration and good faith, if we speak and act with respect and dignity and if we deal judiciously with others always being mindful of their rights as outlined in the Code, it is very unlikely that harassment under Workplace Safety and Health legislation would ever occur!
The above article is reprinted with permission from Frank Restall, President, Louis Riel Teachers' Association
By the time you sit down to read this month’s WTA newsletter, the long awaited Winter Break has probably begun. Please remember to take care of yourself as you turn your mind to your own physical, mental and emotional wellness. Do what YOU want to do. If you want to sleep in, sleep! If you want to go the gym, go! If you want to eat, drink and be merry (in moderation), go for it! It’s important to make time for yourself over the next two weeks and schedule some down time in between all of the usual holiday obligations. This will help you return to school in January in a healthy state of body and mind, with the energy to face the challenges of your position.