Teacher Ethics

Aristotle-Ancient Greek Philosopher Who Proposed Virtue Ethics

A marble bust of Aristotle.  This is a Roman copy after the Greek bronze original by Lysippas 330 B.C.
A marble bust of Aristotle. This is a Roman copy after the Greek bronze original by Lysippas 330 B.C. | Source

A Code of Teacher Ethics

A comprehensive code of teacher ethics is more important today than ever before. In our schools today there are too many cases of teacher facilitated cheating on tests, student bullying in classrooms, profane use of language in class, and disrespect among students and teachers. There are also instances of improper sexual relationships between teachers and students. If teachers are to uphold a professional conduct, teacher ethics are absolutely necessary for setting down the concepts of right and wrong in the education profession. This article proposes a comprehensive code of teacher ethics with commitments to students, the education profession, parents, and the community.

Socrates - Ancient Greek Philosopher

Socrates was a central figure in the field of ethics.  He stated that virtue is knowledge.
Socrates was a central figure in the field of ethics. He stated that virtue is knowledge. | Source

Teacher Commitments to Students

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Teacher Ethics and Responsibilities

Commitments to Students

Commitments to students must be paramount in the formulation of any code of teacher ethics. Students will soon play roles as parents in society, and many will also be our leaders in the 21st century. For this reason, a commitment to students should be demonstrated in the following points of teacher ethics.

1. Maintain Safe Classrooms Conducive for Learning

With the support of school administration, teachers must ensure that students have a safe environment friendly for learning. Teachers have the final responsibility to make sure no students carry any weapons into the classroom. While conducting class, the instructor must have good classroom management and discipline which rewards good behavior and effectively deals with bad behavior. Tolerance for all students must be stressed.

2. Be Fair and Just to All

If a teacher is to be fair and just, he or she must not give advantages to certain students. There absolutely must not be any teachers' pets. In checking homework, test papers, and assigning grades, there must be a uniform system of marking which applies to all. Teachers who don't follow this can expect to be called out by students.

3. Be Honest

It is essential that teachers be honest in their dealings with students just as teachers expect students to be honest. Under no circumstances should a teacher condone cheating on a test, or condone the practice of students copying homework assignments from their fellow students. In the evaluation of student grades, an ethical teacher will give a failing grade if a student deserves it, instead of giving in to the pressure of parents and school administration to pass failing students.

4. Be a Good Role-Model

Being a good role-model for young people can not be overstated. All children are very impressionable, and they will tend to imitate both good and bad behavior. Therefore, any teacher must set good examples for students. These must be exhibited through teachers' dress, grooming, speech, and actions. Teachers must dress in a formal professional way wearing clean and neat clothing and shoes according to school standards. Unless a school permits casual wear, teachers should wear a suit with tie, or dress shirt with tie. Jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers should never be worn in the classroom without the permission of the school.

An instructor's grooming is just as important as clothing. Although moustaches and short neat beards can be allowed, teachers should appear clean shaven before students. Body odor or bad breath must never be effused. If teachers have tattoos, they must be covered with clothing. Male teachers with pierced ears should never wear earrings in class

All teachers must constantly be aware of their speech in front of students. Profanity must never be used, and teachers should speak politely to students if they expect the pupils to respect them. Prejudicial remarks against religions, minorities, and ethnic groups should never be made.

Finally, teachers' actions inside and outside of the classroom are very important. Teachers should always be on time for class, or notify the class in advance whey they will be late or absent. Instructors should also exhibit a friendly and cheerful demeanor toward all in the class. They should also not hesitate in being kind and helpful to needy students. Under no circumstances, should a teacher be seen smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages in front of students.

5. Be a Facilitator for Learning

Learning may be defined as acquiring knowledge. A teacher can not learn for students. Rather, a teacher like a good coach facilitates learning by first explaining and then demonstrating how to do things. This is done through constant practice in which the teacher corrects any mistakes students are making.

6. Don't Expose Students to Intentional Embarrassment

Teachers should never intentionally expose students to embarrassment in the classroom. It is always best to follow the practice of praising in public and using constructive criticism in private. If you know a student is struggling in class, a wise teacher will never single out that student to answer a question at his or her desk or come to the board in front of the class to answer.

7. Uphold Confidentiality of Student Information

Under no conditions should a teacher reveal student information such as family background, religion, aptitudes, and test scores to other students. This information must also never be posted on social media websites such as Facebook for the public to see.

8. Don't Use Professional Relationship with Students for Private Advantage

Teachers must remember that they have a professional relationship with students. It goes without saying that a teacher is forbidden to have a sexual relationship with a student or exhibit acts of pedophilia.


Commitments to the Education Profession

In addition to having strong commitments to students, teachers must have professional commitments to the education profession. These commitments should be reflected in the following teacher ethics.

1. Don't Make False Statements or Misrepresentations about Personal Qualifications

When an individual is applying for a teaching position, he or she should never lie about qualifications. No one should present bogus degrees or teaching credentials. A teacher should also never claim having a Masters or Doctorate when in fact all he has is a Bachelors Degree.

2. Don't Help Unqualified Persons Secure Employment

Teachers should never use their positions or power in schools to assist unqualified people obtain work as teachers.

3. Don't Disclose information about Teaching Colleagues

Many teachers, especially if they are in the position of department head, have personal and professional information about teaching colleagues. This information should only be disclosed to school officials and other teachers on a strict need to know basis. It should never be revealed to the public on the Internet.

4. Don't Make False or Malicious Comments about Colleagues

If a teacher is dissatisfied with the work performance or habits of a colleague, he or she should never air this dirty laundry with other colleagues or to the public. These concerns should be addressed directly to school administration officials.

5. Improve Oneself as a Teacher

Modern technology and the field of education is rapidly changing. For this reason, teachers have the professional responsibility of improving their trade through attendance at education seminars or by taking continuing education courses.

6. Don't Accept a Gift Which Will Influence Professional Decisions

Accepting gifts from students or their parents in many instances is tantamount to accepting a bribe. This is because there could be strings attached in which the student and parents expect the teacher to give good grades in exchange for the gift. In many schools it is traditional for students and their parents to present Christmas or New Year gifts to teachers. Instead of accepting individual gifts, teachers could accept a gift from the whole class.

Commitments to Parents

Teachers also have important commitments to parents. In addition to teachers, parents are integrally involved in the education of their children. Consequently, the following teacher ethics are necessary in meeting commitments to parents. They are as follow:

1. Keep Parents Informed of Students' Academic Progress

Although schools are responsible for giving a report card of student academic progress to parents, students' individual teachers have the duty to keep parents informed about their kids daily subject activities in the classroom. This is usually done in the form of regularly scheduled parent and teacher meetings through the PTA. However, if a student suddenly stops doing homework and gets poor test scores, it is the teacher's responsibility to immediately inform the parents.

2. Inform Parents of Students' Learning Disabilities

Many students can not learn well at school because they are afflicted with psychological and mental disabilities. These could be in the form of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), perfectionism, or dyslexia. In some cases, parents aren't aware of their kids problems. It's the teacher's duty to work jointly with the school and parents to get psychological or medical help for these troubled students.

3. Inform Parents of Students' Discipline Problems

If students are misbehaving in the classroom and creating serious discipline problems, it is the teachers' responsibility to inform parents. Teachers must also meet and work together with parents to improve students' behavior.


Commitments to the Community

Finally, teacher ethics should include commitments to the community. These commitments should be in the form of the following ethics:

1. Encourage Patriotism

Teachers should instill in their students love of country and the pride of being an American, Thai, Chinese, or whatever nationality a student has. This patriotism can be manifested in leading students in saying The Pledge of Allegiance in America or singing the national anthem in other countries.

2. Respect for Law and Order

All teachers have the duty to make sure students understand the function of law and order in society. it is also their responsibility to ensure that pupils respect the police and judicial system. This can be practiced in the classroom and at school by having contests with rules and sporting events with referees.

3. Tolerance for Religions, Ethnic Minorities, and Multi-culturalism

Since we live in a pluralistic society, it is necessary for teachers to have students understand and practice tolerance for different religions and ethnic minorities. It is also essential that teachers have students embrace multi-culturalism.

4. Practice Democracy

To prepare students for their future roles in society, it is essential that teachers introduce and practice the democratic process in the classroom. One way of doing this is by having a student-centered classroom instead of a teacher-centered one.


Many of the points on the commitments of teachers to students and the education profession were taken from a 1975 statement by the United States National Education Association (NEA.)

If there is to be effective teaching and learning in schools, there must be a comprehensive code of teacher ethics. This code of ethics must include teacher commitments to students, the education profession, parents, and the community.

Teacher Ethics

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© 2013 Paul Richard Kuehn

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Comments 38 comments

whonunuwho profile image

whonunuwho 3 years ago from United States

Truly the educator who upholds all of these honorable precepts, is to be the best in the profession. Thanks for the nice work and modeling words. whonu


kidscrafts profile image

kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

Great article and you are right.... as teachers we have to follow a code of ethics; respect the rules, our collegues and the students!


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

whonunuwho,

Thanks for your favorable comments on this hub. I appreciate your reading of this article.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

kidscraft,

I'm very happy you liked this hub. Thank you for your great encouraging comments.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

What a great code of ethics and I applaud you for this finely-written article. If only we could get all teachers to sign on to this code.

You must be back in Thailand. I hope the school year is going well for you. Thank you for the service you provide society.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Billy,

I was only out of Thailand for about 10 days last October. This is my retirement home now and I'm presently teaching a summer class. Our new school year starts around the middle of May. I'm glad you liked my code of ethics. Hopefully, one day all teachers will sign on to this code. Finally, thanks for your great words and encouragement.


Deb Welch 3 years ago

Wow - if they could find the perfect teacher that upheld all the ethics in the classroom today - I would say - Good Luck. Days gone by maybe - you might have found all of this or in an Ivy League High Class School costing a fortune- a possibility. The classroom generally is considered to be safe and conducive to learning but that has been erased off the blackboard when police are stationed in schools,kids keep guns in their lockers etc. Great Hub. My brother was a Teacher and I worked as a Substitute Secretary and Classroom Monitor - 13 yrs. ago when the world wasn't so bad. Thanks. I will share.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Deb,

Thank you very much for reading and commenting on this hub. If we want to find the perfect teachers to uphold my code of ethics, schools have to be more selective in employing teachers. I appreciate you sharing this hub.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Great hub, Paul. But like in any sphere of life the newer generation of teachers as well as students need a lesson in commitment and ethics.

Voted up, useful and shared.


jainismus profile image

jainismus 3 years ago from Pune, India

Great Hub, must be read by every teacher, parents and even by students.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

rajan,

Thanks for reading and commenting on this hub. If the newer generation of teachers could buy into my code of teacher ethics, I think education would really benefit.I appreciate you sharing this hub.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Jainismus,

Thank you very much for stopping by and commenting on this hub. I'm happy you liked this article and really appreciate your encouragement and sharing of this hub.


Anselome profile image

Anselome 3 years ago from Thunder Bay

Well said Paul. I agree wholeheartedly. I know the education system here in Canada is a bit different, but I feel a lot of it has taken a turn for the worst.

A lot of my friends are teachers, or on their way to becoming teachers and they say that a student's word is worth more than a teacher's. My friend's co-workers' friend can't get a teaching job because a student lied and ruined their reputation. The student even admitted to lying but the damage was done.

He's even told me that the teachers aren't allowed to high-five their students or give an upset student a hug as it could be seen as "inappropriate" touching.

How can we expect students today to grow up and lead a normal life if their teachers can't even console them or offer advice without another teacher in the vicinity to act as a witness?


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Anselome,

Thank you for reading this hub, and I really appreciate your great comments. What you say about the Canadian educational system is really surprising. I work in an all-girls school in Thailand, and the school has no problem with high-fiveing students. Thank you very much for sharing this hub.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 3 years ago from Sunny Florida

I agre with everything you said. I have been involved in the school system for many years and have watched it become less and less effective. If we could put your coded of ethics in motion I'd be the first to sign it. Up and awesome. I will be sharing with fellow teachers.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

KoffeeKlatch Gals,

I'm elated that you liked my article on teacher ethics and are sharing it with your fellow teachers. If all teachers joined together and demanded a better code of ethics, education would be a lot better


dwachira profile image

dwachira 3 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

Hi Paul,

As you put it, it is very important that teachers uphold their ethics. It has come to worse, students dropping out of school due to pregnancy resulting from improper relationships with their teachers and the focus of young men being disoriented by female teachers with unethical intentions, i say this because am a teacher and i know these things are real. I think it is time for teachers to re-evaluate their call and professional ethics. Great article, voted up and shared.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Dwachira,

Thank you very much for reading and feeling the same way I do about teacher ethics. Teachers must indeed reevaluate their call and professional ethics to improve education. I'm happy you liked this hub and really appreciate you sharing it.


Tom Koecke profile image

Tom Koecke 3 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

Well done, Paul! When I think back on the most influential teachers in my life, the ones that come to mind were the ones who were strict but fair, and who took the extra step of having us learn rather than teaching and testing.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Tom,

Thanks for your great comments! Some of my most influential teachers were also like yours. I learned a lot of lessons about life in addition to the subject I was studying.


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 3 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

I have to agree with most of what you say here and this should be a major part of all teaching qualifications. Although a lot know how to act in general around children, many have no experience and have not thought it through.

Sharing, tweeting, pinning, up and useful.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Brett,

Thanks for reading and commenting on this hub. I am especially grateful for your sharing, tweeting, and pinning of this article.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

All of these characteristics are so important for teachers and parents too -- and really for anyone who works with children. I chose being a good role model as the most important because I believe if one is a good role model one just naturally incorporates all of these other ideals. Wouldn't it be great if every teacher met these desirables? And all parents too?

Excellent hub and so well written as always. Voted up, BAUI, and will share.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

In addition to the wonderful characteristics you've listed, I've learned that your students are very lucky. Your outlook and beliefs about teaching show how much you care and how much effort you put into your teaching.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Au fait,

Thank you very much for commenting on this hub. Being a good role model is so very important. Most of my students are very conscious of my activities on the school campus. It is very important that students always see you doing the correct good things. I appreciate your favorable review of this hub and sharing it.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

tillsontitan,

Thank you very much for commenting on this hub. Your kind words and praise of this article have really made my day. I'm glad you liked this hub and I appreciate your votes.


Anjili profile image

Anjili 3 years ago from planet earth, a humanoid

Yours is a comprehensive code of conduct for teachers. If all teachers practiced this, schools would be the best places to be in. Unfortunately, not all teachers do as you suggest. In fact, most colleges face a shortage of teachers who are seriously committed to the profession. Many are just hirelings who work for the paycheck. Some lecturers lack in pedagogical skills, an aspect that makes learners to shun anything to do with schooling. Thanks for the share


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Anjili,

Thank you very much for reading and commenting on this hub. When I went to college, most of the teachers who assisted professors were graduate students with no experience in teaching. It has often been said that the people who go into elementary and secondary school teaching are the ones who weren't smart enough to be doctors,lawyers, or engineers. I don't completely agree with this. If person is going to be a teacher, he or she must be prepared to sign on to a code of ethics and not just treat teaching as a 9-5 job. I really appreciate your comments.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

I wish all teachers believed they needed a code of conduct like you have listed and followed it. Many do but some don't. Our son once had a grade school teacher that came to the house to get him caught up on his work because he had missed so much school from chickenpox and mumps. I wish all teacher could be like this teacher. Voted up and shared.


ologsinquito profile image

ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

Excellent hub. I wish there was some legislation preventing teachers from discussing students and their families in the teacher's lounge, as well as outside the school.

Others in the helping professions - doctors, nurses and psychologists - cannot talk or gossip about clients. I wish all teachers were held to the same standard.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

moonlake,

Thank you very much for stopping by and commenting on this hub. It's good to know you share the same ideas I have about creating a good code of teacher ethics. Thanks for the story about your son's grade school teacher. I really appreciate your votes and sharing of this hub.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

ologsinquito,

Thank you very much for commenting on this hub. You are absolutely correct, It is ethically wrong for teachers to discuss the merits of their students with people who don't have the need to know. Thank you for your excellent comments!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

Sharing again of behalf of teachers, Paul!!


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Michelle,

Thank you so much for sharing this hub again. Maybe if more teachers and other people read it, education in all schools will be better for our kids.


CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

Paul, you really hit on so many good points here. When my daughter started K, the teacher was new and didn't feel like doing the The Pledge of Allegiance. The other teachers did. So my daughter felt very left out because the other K classes took turns leading the classes in Pledge. I wasn't too happy that the teacher was allowed to decide whether or not to do the Pledge when the whole school participated in it. Now, both of my children's teachers do the Pledge daily which I am very pleased about.

Also, I have no complaints about my children's teachers this year. The teachers are both wonderful and smart. My children come home ready to do homework and get straight As.

It's quite different when I was in school. I remember a teacher that put a boy in the corner and kept a cardboard box around his desk. I also remember that teacher hitting students with a yardstick. Her husband was a principal and he drove himself off a pier while under the influence many times. Thankfully, that's no longer allowed.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

CraftytotheCore,

Thank you very much for your very interesting comments. I'm really happy that you liked this hub.


George Ensley 2 years ago

It seems to me that Iowa law enhances the ethics of teaching. It provides a barrier that helps prevent the question of "how much for an A".

Iowa law 282-25.3(6)f states: (Violation of these standards include ...) "soliciting students or parents of students to purchase equipment, supplies, or services from the educational practitioner for personal advantage."

This is not just for goods/services sold on school grounds or during the school year, but goods/services sold from their home or business, 24/7/12 until the student graduates, moves, or drops out of the school district.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 2 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

&George Ensley Thank you very much for your comments. I appreciate your comments on the ethics of teaching as they apply to Iowa law.

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