In the spirit of open conversation and to support an array of perspectives, Professionally Speaking welcomes letters to the editor. The opinions expressed in letters are solely those of the authors and should not be interpreted as the view of the College. We reserve the right to edit letters for length and clarity.
Being a male elementary teacher who is good at his job and cares about the students I teach, I found this cover to be very suggestive. What message do you think you are really sending?
Chris Bond, OCT, is a Grade 4/5 teacher with the Peel District School Board.
Putting the title and the photo together immediately gives a person, who might not be directly involved in education, the idea that this is a normal occurrence. A topic such as this demands more tact. It doesn't honour the victim of abuse or promote schools as a safe place — frankly it does not give respect to the issue.
Bruce McCulligh, OCT, teaches high school with the Toronto District School Board.
While I think the College can be held at fault for a number of concerns, this December cover is not one of them. Please do not yield to this hyped-up hysteria. You have an obligation to keep this body of professionals informed and reminded of their responsibilities.
Mark Quan, OCT, is a Grade 8 teacher with the York Region District School Board.
I can completely understand that the College may have had a desire to shed light on the abhorrent situations that we read about in the blue pages section of every issue. Certainly there are members who, unfortunately, need to be reminded of maintaining appropriate boundaries with students, but placing this image on the cover of a magazine for hard-working professionals is, in my opinion, not the way to attempt to reprimand or discipline these members or remind them of their professional duties. Perhaps there need to be stricter consequences for members who violate boundaries. I would also argue that these members are likely not reading the magazine, anyhow. This leaves your upstanding members who do read the magazine seeking professional development thinking that this is how you view them.
Valerie Iamundo, OCT, teaches Grade 4 at St. Anne Catholic Academy in Toronto.
I would have hoped somewhere in the editing process a clearer distinction of the two [cover headlines] with a more generic graphic would have been used to better effect. Barring a few exceptions, these professionals are doing their very best to protect their students from harm from any source.
Susan McNamara, is a retired teacher who taught high school with the District School Board Ontario North East.
In light of the professional advisory, Professional Boundaries (approved by the College on October 1, 2020), this might be a good time to question the widespread practice of addressing students as "friends." Embraced by the education community as the preferred gender-neutral reference to class cohorts, this term is in fact loaded, hazardous and anything but neutral.
Not only is it unnatural and untrue, but it appears to contradict the advisory, which states, "students may mistake an educator's friendliness for friendship." This begs the question: what do you expect a "friend" to think?
The word friend has common semantic implications: closeness, intimacy, an absence of boundaries that would otherwise separate individuals on the basis of power, authority or responsibility — adult from child, mentor from student. Used in our context, it is open to misinterpretation or misuse as a licence to engage in nefarious, improper and — at the very least — disrespectful conduct.
This term should be expunged from our professional lexicon and teachers trusted to tap their professional judgment for suitable alternatives.
Cheryl Agoston, OCT, is an occasional teacher.