If you have to teach appropriate . . .

14/03/2014

Teachers’ Council’s disciplinary tribunal member and principal of John Paul College in Rotorua, Patrick Walsh, wants appropriate behaviour with pupils to be a mandatory part of teacher training.

. . . Mr Walsh says there are basic rules to guide teachers’ behaviour.

“They don’t need to be a friend of a student – and there’s a distinction between that and being friendly. Secondly, use of social media: it’s not appropriate for a student to join your Facebook page, to text students late at night in the weekends, to accept gifts and whether it’s a good idea to attend a 16th or 18th birthday party of a student.” . . .

This has been prompted by a blurring of lines between what was acceptable between teachers and pupils.

Teachers have accepted gifts of underwear, and invitations to students’ birthday parties – and later claimed to be unaware such actions were inappropriate. . .

Good grief – aren’t teachers supposed to be responsible adults and role models to their pupils?

If you have to teach them what’s appropriate in teacher-pupil relationships are they the appropriate people to be teachers?


Please Miss

22/09/2008

Should a teacher lose her job for moonlighting as a prostitute?

Teachers and their advocates are constantly complaining about teachers’ workloads. The school board could use this to justify concerns that the teacher’s extra-curricular activities would compromise her ability to do her day job properly. But:

The woman reportedly told the principal that her action in her own time was not his concern, and that it was not affecting her ability as a teacher.

Teachers Council director Peter Lind said the most important factor was whether the teacher’s second job was affecting her teaching duties, “and there would have to be actual evidence”.

That’s not easy because there are a whole lot of things which might impinge on a teachers’ performance in the classroom which would not be sackable offences, the demands of looking after young children or elderly relatives, for example.

But prostitution is a wee bit different from these altruisitc activities and that might create difficulties.

It’s a primary school so the board doesn’t need to concern itself over the possibility of pupils hiring the teacher to help them with their homework. But it might worry about problems which could arise if pupils’ fathers – or mothers – were clients.

It might also have concerns about how the teacher’s side-line activities impact on the school’s reputation and that of the teaching profession:

Employment lawyer John Hannan, who knew of the case, said a school could possibly take action even if it didn’t have a policy either preventing teachers taking secondary jobs or ensuring they first seek approval from their board. “It’s a case of whether the outside employment is regarded as incompatible with the role of a teacher in terms of role-modelling and in terms of any policies that the board of trustees might have in place.”

Another employment lawyer, Patrick Walsh, said the council could intervene if the school deemed the teacher’s second job involved “conduct that brings discredit to the profession”.

There is a glimmer of hope then, that the board might be within its rights to tell her she can’t do both jobs. And if it’s not then what does that say about our society?

I don’t know why she needs the extra money and what happens to her two children while she’s earning it. But if she thinks she’s doing it for them she’s got her priorities wrong.

And whatever employment law states, I wouldn’t want my children taught by a prostitute because making something legal doesn’t make it right.


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