How fragile is our teacher identity?

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Photo Credit: Joe Gratz via Compfight cc

I was reading through some of my news apps and came across the article about the “former teacher [Regina] found not guilty of sex charges”. This article is about former Regina teacher Corey Matthews (36) who had a student make claims of 4 different occasions of sexual assault and sexual exploitation in 2005. After 11 years (11 years!!) with this accusation made, on January 21, 2014 he was found not guilty. Because of the law system today, children claiming any sexual assault charges are believed fully and the claims are believed true until proven further. While I do think this is a good system for this kind of crime, looking at it from Matthews perspective, he was completely innocent and had 11 years of his life being seen as a criminal and sexual predator. Not only is this bad enough, but being that teachers hold such high expectations from the general public, it seemed that much worse- that a trusted teacher, someone close to all youth, would have such accusations made about them.

As a pre-service teacher, this article was a little worrying because it just emphasizes the fragility of my teacher identity. If any accusations are made by my students, they are automatically deemed credible and, although it occurs more often with men,  these cases are becoming more common in the news. In Corey Matthew’s case, his professional career was destroyed. Although the charges were cleared and he was found not guilty, the consequences of such an event had obliterated his teacher identity and his desire to teach in general. Now, he is left trying to find another means of income and a new passion to follow.

Teacher identity is a huge factor in parents’ ease and trust in having their children go to particular schools. Professionalism and integrity are highly valued in a teacher’s identity. After reading this article I am just that much more conscious about my actions as a teacher, and the outcomes that are possible.

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