A Code of Teaching Ethics
A comprehensive code of teaching 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 professional conduct, teaching ethics is absolutely necessary for setting down the concepts of right and wrong in the education profession. This article proposes a comprehensive code of teaching ethics with commitments to students, the education profession, parents, and the community.
Commitments to Students
Commitments to students must be paramount in the formulation of any code of teaching 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 teaching ethics.
1. Maintain Safe Classrooms Conducive to Learning
With the support of school administration, teachers must ensure that students have a safe friendly environment 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
Teachers must 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 a tie, or dress shirt with a 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 mustaches and short neat beards can be allowed, teachers should appear cleanly 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 when 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 the 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. A teacher is forbidden to have a sexual relationship with a student or exhibit acts of pedophilia.
Teacher Ethics and Responsibilities
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 teaching 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 to have a Masters or Doctorate when in fact all he has is a Bachelors's Degree.
2. Don't Help Unqualified Persons Secure Employment
Teachers should never use their positions of power in schools to assist unqualified people to 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 teaching ethics are necessary for 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' teachers must 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. The teacher must 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, teaching 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 the 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 to America or singing the national anthem in other countries.
2. Respect for Law and Order
All teachers have 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 Multiculturalism
Since we live in a pluralistic society, teachers must have students understand and practice tolerance for different religions and ethnic minorities. It is also essential that teachers have students embrace multiculturalism.
4. Practice Democracy
To prepare students for their future roles in society, teachers must 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 teaching ethics. This code of ethics must include teacher commitments to students, the education profession, parents, and the community.
Teacher Commitments to Students
Which is the most important teacher commitment to students?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Paul Richard Kuehn