ATA Teacher Employment Services Staff
For teachers who don’t normally work from home, the idea of doing so can be exciting — no traffic, no rushing around, no interruptions to the work day — but working from home in an online environment can also pose some challenges.
The first thing to remember is that our Code of Professional Conduct applies to your actions and behaviour at all times. This is no different whether you work from home or at school in front of students. And be mindful of division policies, as they still apply as well.
Here are a few tips to help you with working from home. These suggestions also apply to teachers who are working from school with an online platform. By following these tips, teachers will reinforce their image as professionals whether they are working at home or at school.
Create a routine and take care of yourself.
- Focus on routines that you can do at home.
- Create a practical daily list to help keep you organized and focused. When following up on this, ask, “What have I done today?” or “What is complete now?”
- Get up at the same time.
- Get dressed and ready as you normally would.
- Create protocols for “working hours” regarding noise levels and how others in your household can interact with you.
- Schedule social interactions. To guard against retreating into social isolation, schedule times when you will socially engage with others besides those you live with.
- Be aware of your own emotional state and know when you need to go for a walk or take a short break.
- Ensure that you have a suitable workspace. This includes proper ergonomics, heating, lighting, sound and privacy.
Be a master of technology, mind your attire and always be professional.
Whether you are using web-based communications with students or the telephone, here are some points to remember.
Always assume your microphone is on unless you are sure you have it turned off or muted. When leaving the room, be sure the microphone is off, and at the end of the day, be sure to log out of all programs and your computer.
If using a webcam, be mindful of what the students can see. What is on the wall behind you? Can students see personal or private information about you or others? It is important to remember that even though you are at home, you need to present a professional image to your audience. And as with the microphone, always turn your video off when you leave the room, and at the end of the day, log out of all programs and your computer.
Teachers should be maintaining regular hours as directed by their employer. This is your teaching time, and the time for you to contact your students and for parents to contact you. Errands and personal appointments should not be occurring during this time unless you have an approved leave (i.e. medical appointment). You are under no obligation to provide your personal home or cellphone number to parents, and should not provide these to students. Use division email for all communication with students and parents. Any other contacts should not be via personal accounts (i.e. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Tik Tok, text messages, etc.)
You should dress for the online world as if you are in front of your students — because you are. You may not be as formal as you are in the classroom, but you are a professional, so dress like one when online.
The feedback you provide to students while online should be as professional as it is in the classroom. Avoid slang, jargon or emojis when replying to students, as this takes away from the professional message you are conveying.
Remember that tutoring students in certain circumstances can be a violation of article 6 of the Code of Professional Conduct. Teachers should not be actively trying to tutor students for renumeration during the current work-from-home situation.
It is essential to remember that your personal comments can convey a strong message to students and parents. Teachers have a duty of fidelity to their employer and must not be critical of decisions the board has made. Be mindful of what you post on any social media platforms or say to students and parents.
Remember that the same expectations for FOIP apply when working online. Teachers should not be posting screen images of their students while on a web-based application. Not all students or parents will want their image displayed virtually, so respect everyone’s privacy. Do not record any online sessions without the written permission of all parents involved.
Regardless of the platform you are using, always ensure that the privacy settings are set to the highest level and that the software uses encryption. Also ensure that the software is not recording the session, as it might be stored outside of Canada. Use encrypted external hard drives or thumb drives, and password protect student folders.