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Terrific Teaching Tips, Issue #036-- February 2013 Ezine
February 01, 2013

I hope your month of January went well. There's only 1 1/2 months before March/Winter break. The second semester/term always goes faster than the first term doesn't it? At least for me it sure did!

Perhaps I should have written about this topic, "Professional Courtesy", at the beginning of the school year - but it's never too late. I know I have written about school manners which to me are crucial as they carry on throughout your students' lives.

But, professional courtesies are a kind of unwritten laws for us as professional educators that must be implemented and maintained in our every day school life.

From the beginning of time to the present, we as teachers have been free to prepare our own lessons, teach, test and grade as we choose and what works best for our students.

There are 6 basic guidelines - "laws" that we need to consider and support.

1. You must never talk negatively about a student, colleague, school administrators, or parents publicly. It may only be done privately. If word got out, it would become awkward for you and you would have to defend yourself and perhaps have no support to help you out.

2. You must respect all the people who work in the school. If you can't do that, you must extend your professional respect to the position that person holds in the school, or you will automatically undermine the function of that position.

I have taught in and been in enough schools to realize that you will not like every professional on your stafffor a variety of reasons; e.g., different philosophy of teaching, political stand, different way of doing things, to name a few. However, when it comes to attaining professional courtesy, respecting a person's position or function is mandatory.

3. You must not expect or demand special privileges, unless it is available to all staff members. Unfortunately, that doesn't always work in the school and you know what staff members I'm talking about.

In this case, professional courtesy means a shared equitable workload. For instance - sending a challenging student to another teacher so it becomes their problem, doing extra duties, teams, clubs, committees while others take on no extra responsibilities.

4. You must support the leadership of others (this may be hard to swallow)- e.g., team leaders, department heads, vice (assistant) principals and of course principals.

This should be a law, because where the responsibility is, the authority must be as well or effective leadership is impossible. We do have the freedom to try to get rules changed, however, we must follow them until we succeed. If not, professional courtesy, respect and fairness can't exist.

5. You must respect the school board curriculum. It's crucial that you teach to the curriculum. Whether it's in regard to assigning homework or thinking that math is more important than music, professional courtesy needs to be totally upheld in this instance.

6. You need to be professionally honest and allow others to be the same. You should not lie or ask your students and/or staff to cover up for you under any situations. Trying to force others to adhere to your beliefs is professionally dishonest.

I realize that these 6 "laws" are unoffical rules in any school. Keep in mind that professional courtesy is something that one person gives to another freely.

It has 2 benefits - When we extend this courtesy, we help others become better people and in so doing so we help ourselves to be a better person as well.

These "laws" teach us how to do the right thing in the right way for the right reason. It's that simple! They give value to us, our students, our school and our profession!

Have a good month everyone and Happy Valentine's Day to those who celebrate it. Speak to you next month. Enjoy !!!

"Nothing is ever lost by courtesy. It is the cheapest of the pleasures - costs nothing and conveys much." - Erastus Wiman

Happy trails,


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