However, this column is not written for the 99 percent of you who use good judgment and common sense. You are professionals who serve the public well. You can stop reading right here.
I am using the plainest language I know to remind those very, very few teachers of middle school and high school kids who need to be reminded to use good judgment and common sense when they are with our children.
Last school year, over and over, educators here in Cherokee County schools were arrested on charges of having inappropriate relations with students. That must stop.
Start with keeping your hands to yourself.
It is so easy to put a well-intended, dangling arm around a young lady’s shoulder. Don’t do it. What is meant by you as a friendly gesture may be something else to the child. She may be thinking that dangling arm of your was intended to touch her breast.
Then there are the pats on the back that a student may interpret as a pat on the fanny. That can be a career breaker.
The way some teens dress is very provocative. Let’s face it. Even with dress codes in place, a few students still look like “jail bait.”
Skirts are too short, blouses too low and jeans and sweaters too tight. The students may stare, but not you. Using just one example, you would not be the first teacher to be accused of looking down a student’s blouse.
You do not comment either. Do not say everything you think. Bite your tongue if necessary.
If you think a student is violating the dress code, you report it to the powers that be. Someone else will take it from there.
Then there is the matter of how you dress. Dress a notch or two above the students.
You may think it is a compliment when someone walks in your classroom and has a hard time telling you from the students. It is not. They do not recognize you as the professional you want to be.
It is not unusual for students to have a crush on their teacher. Those rampant teenage hormones easily cloud their good sense. Given the opportunity, they will gladly pledge and demonstrate their undying love for you and will do anything you ask them to do.
Sure, you have hormones, too. But you also have a brain. As a teacher, your first responsibility is to keep the children safe. That includes keeping them safe from you.
You have been hired to teach your students. You have not been hired to be their friend or playmate. Do not take them to your home or theirs. In fact, only under dire circumstances should a student even be in your vehicle. Try hard not to be in a room with only you and one child there.
Most students have access to the Internet. They may send you messages on Facebook, email or other social media. Most are related to classroom work. By all means, respond if you have time.
But there may be students who want to have a social conversation with you online. They may even send you pictures of themselves. If you respond that could be the start of something neither you nor the student needs.
Many of your students will have tattoos and will be eager to show them to you. Be sure you do not let them pull any of their clothes up or down for you or the class to see. Do not invite them to look at your tattoos either.
You want to make your classes interesting and fun. Using inappropriate jokes, cartoons, comments or gestures is not the way to do it. Neither is spicing up your language with a “damn” here and a “hell” there.
Your inflated ego may tell you that you are the most popular, best looking, most intelligent and best teacher in your school. Right now you may be thinking, “Everyone knows me. I just joke around. The kids like me. They don’t mind. I am one of the guys.”
Dream on. Inappropriate things involving students will come out. Chances are great that you will become an embarrassment to your school, your friends and your profession. Your family suffers.
Worst of all, a child you preyed on may be scarred for life.
If you are guilty, you deserve everything you get including looking through the bars of the county jail.
Chances are you will not be lonely. I am sure some of those teachers arrested last school year are still there.
Marguerite Cline is the former mayor of Waleska.