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What Makes Great Teaching?

 

Throughout this course, we have explored themes that concern the central question of the class, “What makes great teaching?” This is not an easy question to answer and while we have all undoubtedly known great teachers in our lives, defining what makes them great often defies words. I was personally struck by several of the topics we covered in the course and was compelled to examine how I would deal with these issues when I enter the profession. The themes that I think are the most important to me all concern the idea that teachers should give all students a high-quality education regardless of their background and that both teachers and students should enjoy an environment of respect and equality that will ensure success. As I move forward in my career as an educator, I plan on carrying these lessons with me so that I will remember the things I believe make for great teaching.

Gender and the teaching profession- Women make up 90% of the profession but fill the minority of leadership roles in schools and districts (Kelsey, Allen, Coke, & Ballard, 2014). The low respect and pay associated with teaching can be attributes to the feminization of the profession under Catherine Beecher. Women were considered ideal candidates because they could be paid less and they possessed the necessary morals to work with children. Men in the profession were promoted over their female colleagues and received higher pay (Goldstein, 2014). In order to make the teaching profession more attractive to high-quality candidates, teacher pay needs to increase and women need to be provided opportunities to advance in the profession. In countries where teacher pay and prestige is comparable to highly desirable careers, the education system benefits from top quality teachers entering the field. The increased pay and prestige would also help to attract more men into the profession, creating more gender diversity and further increasing the respectability of teaching as a viable and fulfilling career.

Every student has different ways of processing information and learning. Teachers need to develop strategies to differentiate instruction to fit the variety of student needs in their classroom. Garner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences suggests that everyone has a learning style that best allows them to process information and that Teachers should adapt to lessons to fit every students preferred style when possible. Teachers should have an awareness of the varying ways their students like to learn and try to add some elements of these styles when appropriate. (Edutopia, 2015). Beyond taking account of different learning styles, teachers may have to differentiate instruction to accommodate students with disabilities and diverse language learners. More classrooms are moving toward the inclusion method of teaching where students with disabilities are educated with students who do not have disabilities as part of IDEA (Barrett, 2013). Bilingual education programs have been proven to benefit students of all languages. It is essential that teachers ensure non-English speaking students receive effective instruction and foster an environment of bilingualism in the classroom where diverse language students learn English and English-speaking students can learn another language (Gándara, 2015). It is important that teachers are sensitive to the wide-array of student needs that will be present in their classroom and tailor instruction to reach everyone.

The US education system is far from equitable. The constitution does not mandate public school and therefore leaves 90% of the funding up to states. The states apportion money to school districts based on the property taxes in their area which means that wealthy areas have more money to make better schools which leads to better education for wealthy children. The goal of equitable education is that all students, regardless of their socioeconomic level, race, language, or any other factor, should be given equal opportunities to succeed in school. This requires that education funding be distributed in a way that equals the playing field between students by elevating those on a lower level. Studies have shown that the amount state governments spend, as well as how they spend it, per student have a positive correlation on student achievement, especially for low-income students (Gjaja, Puckett & Ryder, 2014). The link between success and education has long been recognized. However, efforts to equalize educational opportunities for poor children, including Lyndon B. Johnson’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), largely fell short of solving the shortcomings of unequal school funding (Goldstein, 2014). Alarming evidence shows that the gap between rich and poor schools in the United States has widened an estimated 44 percent over the last decade with states, who control 90 percent of education funding, drastically cutting budgets following the Great Recession and many continuing these cuts today (Barshay, 2015). The US will continue to fall behind in education if we fail to seriously address the rampant lack of equity that puts children from low-socioeconomic backgrounds and minorities far behind their wealthy peers.

Link for Piktochart

https://magic.piktochart.com/embed/13640224-final-project

Resources:

 

Barshay, J. (2015). The gap between rich and poor schools grew 44 percent over a decade. The Heching Report. Retrieved from http://hechingerreport.org/the-gap-between-rich-and-poor-schools-grew-44-percent-over-a-decade/

Gjaja, Marin, Puckett, J., & Ryder, Matt (2014, February 18). Equity is the Key to Better School Funding. Education Week. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/02/19/21puckett.h33.html

Gándara, P. (2015). Rethinking bilingual instrtuctionEducational Leadership, 72(6), 60-64.

Goldstein, D. (2014). The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession. New York, NY: Anchor Books.

Kelsey, Cheryl, Allen, Kathy, Coke, Kelly, & Ballard, Glenda (2014). Lean in and lift up: Female superintendents share their career path choices. Journal of Case Studies in Education, 7, 1-11.

Villegas, A. M., & Lucas, T. (2007). The culturally responsive teacher. Educational Leadership, 64(6), 28-33.

Reflection on Teaching

Becoming a teacher was something I often thought about throughout my life. My mom has been an elementary school teacher for almost thirty years and when I was younger, I would love to go to her classroom before or after school and pretend that I was teaching my own class. Like most adolescents, I would go through periods where I wanted to have nearly every profession under the sun but I would always come back to teaching. I have always liked school and learning about history but I really discovered my passion for the subject in high school. Mrs. Seat’s AP World History class was one of the most challenging and most rewarding classes I ever had. She was a hard teacher but exposed me to the subject matter that would become my passion for the remainder of high school and eventually my major in college. The transformative experience I had in her class has inspired me to teach AP World History so that I can hopefully reach other students the same way Mrs. Seat did.

I love history. I think that learning the incredible events of the past connect us to the human experience and helps us to better appreciate the accomplishments we have made and the work that still needs to be done. I am always a little disheartened that many people say they do not like history or, even worse, that history is boring. History is far from boring but unfortunately, the format by which many history classes are taught give students a bad taste for the subject. I want to teach because I want to inspire my students to love history and to understand how important the subject is. My goal is that by teaching students an appreciation for the subject, I will play a small role in shaping well-informed citizens who will understand the importance of learning from the past to shape a far greater future.

In order to obtain my ideal position as an AP World History teacher, I will need to continue to develop as a professional and gain the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to excel in my career. Throughout the course of the semester, I gained a better understanding of the teaching profession and of my current strengths and weaknesses. By reflecting on both my perceived strengths and current weaknesses as well as taking inventory of the skills and dispositions I will need to develop before obtaining my ideal teaching position, I crafted my professional development plan as a guide for reaching my goals in the coming years. While I certainly have work to do in order to accomplish my goal of being an AP World History teacher, I know what I need to do. In the following paragraphs, I will elaborate on the skills and knowledge, dispositions, and experiences I need to be successful in my chosen field.

Teachers are expected to be highly knowledgeable in both the content they teach and pedagogy. I will need to continuously expand my knowledge on the historical subject matter I will teach as well as effective pedagogy. I will take an additional masters level history course before graduating and be able to pass the 7-12 Social Studies content test. I will complete the required education courses needed to graduate with my MAT and pass the PPR test to gain my Texas teaching certificate and then, following a semester of student teaching, I will be able to teach in my own classroom.

After finishing school, I will continue to grow my knowledge of history by reading extensively to find new and exciting information to enhance my students’ learning as well as conducting research on a wide range of material that will help me teach beyond what is in the textbook. It is important that I develop effective classroom management skills that maintain order without stifling the creativity and motivation of my students. I feel that classroom management will be my biggest challenge as a teacher. It is difficult to know how you will respond to disruptive behavior or distractions until you actually experience it. I can feel more confident knowing I have some strategies I can fall back on if I feel unsure about how to handle something. I will become proficient in planning lessons that are engaging and allow students to actively learn rather than simply reading from a textbook or listening to endless lectures. I will continue to grow professionally by attending conferences and workshops that will help me become a better teacher. Eventually, I would like to obtain my ESL certification so that I will be able to effectively work with diverse language students. As of right now, I am not very confident in my ability to teach students who do not speak English but I want to ensure that I will be prepared in the event that I do have a language barrier in my classroom.

Beyond developing my knowledge and skills, I will need to work on maintaining the attitudes and dispositions I believe will make me a successful AP World History teacher. It is important that I am enthusiastic and positive about teaching and helping my students learn. I am passionate about history and think it is interesting. I want my students to feel the same way about the subject and demonstrating my passion will increase the likelihood that they find the information worth learning. As a teacher, I will need to have determination and perseverance to work through any setbacks that may occur and improve on my craft. I am a firm believer in life-long learning and want to continue to grow my knowledge and learn new teaching strategies. I love learning new things and feel that it helps to better me as a person. I feel that I am very strong in the area of appreciating student diversity and treating all students with care and respect regardless of their background. Teachers need to believe that all of their students are capable of success and set reasonably high expectations for everyone in the class. I also believe that teachers should have high expectations for themselves and their peers. I want to collaborate with other teachers at my school and find ways to better our classes and enhance our lessons. I think a school should function like a team where everyone helps each other to be the best they can be and in the end, we all win.

I believe the most important preparation for teaching comes from experience. Many teachers I know have told me that student teaching prepared them more than any education class could have. I will complete my student teaching as the last component of my MAT program before I graduate and find myself in my own classroom. I feel like one semester is not enough time to fully absorb all of the benefits of student teaching and because of this, new teachers spend the first few years learning from real world situations and adapting their strategies to find what works and what doesn’t. It is difficult for me to say what my strengths and weaknesses will be as a teacher because I have not taught in a classroom setting before. In order to obtain my ideal position, I will need to gain experience in a classroom setting. I will supplement my experience by reading professional journals to keep up to date on the latest developments in the field. I would also like to observe other teachers so I can get a better idea of what my peers are doing in their classrooms that I can implement in mine. While it may not be possible to observe their class, I can ask veteran teachers for advice and still benefit from their experience.

In order to obtain a position as an AP World History teacher, I will need to continue to develop my professional skills and knowledge and work to address my perceived strengths and weaknesses. After finishing my MAT coursework and obtaining some experience, I will start working as a teacher in my certification area where I will continue to learn and improve my craft. Eventually, will teach an AP World History class and work to inspire my students to love history and realize that the subject is far from boring.

How is Teaching Portrayed to the Public?

Films are both a source of entertainment and a powerful tool for shaping public opinion (Farhi, 1999). In general, people tend to love feel-good movies where the protagonists overcome seemingly impossible odds to live happily ever after. We want to be inspired. We want to believe that anything is possible and that even ordinary people can make a huge difference in the world. Teachers are a natural subject matter for these kinds of inspirational films, especially teachers in urban schools with difficult students.

While teachers should be celebrated for the inspiring work they do, Hollywood’s treatment of teaching often paints the teaching profession as deeply flawed with the exception of one inspirational teacher who saves students from the oppressive classrooms they are used to and teaches them to love learning. While there are certainly great teachers who change the lives of their students, “films that center around teachers tend to show them as almost superhuman, capable of permanently changing lives in a short period of time” (Farhi, 1999, pg. 157). Most of these accounts fail to recognize the hard work and sacrifice that it takes to make such widespread improvements in the classroom. The audience is lead to believe that great teachers have a gift and are able to succeed because they care about their students. That passion becomes the only thing they need to succeed which is certainly far from removed from the reality of teaching, especially in high-poverty schools. This is especially dangerous for idealistic new teachers who may become discouraged when they cannot immediately move mountains when it comes to effectively teaching their students.

Teaching is a hard job that requires hard work, however; “Instant gratification, rare in the real world of education, is common in Hollywood’s classrooms” (Farhi, 1999, pg. 158). The movie “Stand and Deliver” is different in the sense that it shows the extreme hard work, time, and personal sacrifice that was required for a teacher to make a real difference at a difficult school. In “Stand and Deliver,” Escalante was a Bolivian immigrant who moved to the U.S. as an adult and taught himself English (Fellow, 2016). He was not an idealistic young, white teacher that was miraculously able to transform his students but rather, a man with an immigrant background who knew the realities of the community he taught in and through extreme dedication and hard work was able to transform the way his students thought about learning and themselves (Menendez, 1988). He could relate to his students and understood that they were bright kids who needed a lot of motivation and discipline in order to succeed.

The movie makes it very apparent that the kids are used to teachers giving up on them due to low expectations. The female math teacher says several times that it is useless to teach the kids calculus because they wont understand it and in failing, they will loose any of the remaining self confidence they possessed (Menendez, 1988). Mr. Escalante never doubts the students’ intelligence and instead, challenges them to do rise to meet his high expectations. He tells his students that they are too smart for basic math and that he will teach them algebra instead (Menendez, 1988). Escalante has a unique approach to teaching that the students are not used to combined with a level of caring that they have most likely never experienced in their High School. “Stand and Deliver” paints this inter-city school like many Hollywood movies do, a chaotic place filled with apathetic teachers and lazy punks for students. However, “Stand and Deliver” does a good job of showcasing how culturally responsive teaching along with an environment of high expectations can allow every student to prosper.

While many Hollywood accounts of teachers present teachers as miracle workers who transform students without teaching a single thing, great teachers can truly appear to be super heroes (Farhi, 1999). This is not some innate gift that they are born with but a developed skill fueled by passion for students and a willingness to work unbelievably hard. Mr. Escalante’s career exemplifies the work that goes into really great teaching. He came in before school and stayed after. He worked holidays, weekends and summers to ensure that he was available to his students. His success as a teacher was built on the back of hard work that few would undertake and this hard work paid off. The movie only touches on the impact Mr. Escalante had on the students of Garfield High from the time he started in the mid-1970s to when he left in the early 1990s (Fellow, 2016). Escalante made such a profound impact on the lives of his students and the community that when they learned he was in the end stages of a battle with cancer in 2010, they organized a huge fund raising event to help cover his medical costs (Grigsby Bates, 2010). These former students experienced great success after high school in large part due to the extreme commitment and passion of Mr. Escalante.

The movie “Stand and Deliver” is a great example of Hollywood portraying the difficulties of teaching alongside the inspiring rewards. Movies about teachers should show that teachers are humans that makes mistakes but ultimately do the best they can to ensure that their students succeed. Great teachers do not have to be perfect but they have to be committed and refuse to give up on their students. I think Mr. Escalante sums it up best in an interview on what it means to be a teacher.

 

 

 

Resources:

 

Farhi, A. (1999). Hollywood goes to school: Recognizing the super teacher myth in film. Clearing House, 72(3), 157-59.

 

Fellow, F. (2016, January 5). Teacher who inspired Stand and Deliver to be honored with postage stamp. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jaime-escalante-stamp_us_568c08fbe4b014efe0dbdefd

 

Grigsby Bates, K. (2010, March 9). Students stand and deliver for former teacher. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124491340

 

Menendez, R. (Director). (1988). Stand and deliver [Motion picture]. United States: Warner Brothers.

Equity in Education: How Can Schools Be More Equitable?

Equity Symposium Header Image

The goal of equitable education is that all students, regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, language, or any other factor, should be given equal opportunities to succeed in school. This requires that education funding be distributed in a way that levels the playing field between students by elevating those on a lower level to that of their more advantaged peers. Studies have shown that the amount state governments spend, as well as how they spend it, per student have a positive correlation on student achievement, especially for low-income students (Gjaja, Puckett & Ryder, 2014).

This should be good news considering that the United States spends more on education per student than any other industrialized country (Gjaja et al., 2014). However, the United States has one of the highest differences in performance scores between advantaged and disadvantaged students of the countries analyzed in the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s PISA assessment (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, 2013). The results of this test consistently show that there is a link between socioeconomic status and poor performance in school but notes that “social background is not destiny, and that policy and practice can make a difference” (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, 2013).

Alarming evidence shows that the gap between rich and poor schools in the United States has widened an estimated 44 percent over the last decade with states, who control 90 percent of education funding, drastically cutting budgets following the Great Recession and many continuing these cuts today (Barshay, 2015). For example, in 2015 Kansas Governor Sam Brownback announced $44.5 million in education cuts, blaming education for driving up state spending despite the fact that the large state deficit could largely be traced to income tax reductions the governor signed into law (Cooper, 2015).

How can schools be equitable if states continue to cut funds to education? Studies suggest that improving the equity of school funding in a state “can improve academic performance without any additional spending overall” (Gjaja et al., 2014). In Texas, the Robin Hood system is an attempt to make education funding more equitable through the practice of redistributing property tax revenue form richer school districts to their poorer counterparts (The Texas Tribune). While this solution seems good in theory, richer districts still have an advantage in what they can give their students as well as what they can offer to pay teachers, thereby making these schools more attractive to high quality teachers. In addition, this system does not account for low-income schools within relatively high-income school districts. While these schools receive the same district mandated resources as the wealthier schools, they do not have as much extra money, like PTA funds and other parent contributions, to spend on their students.

Recently, some states have put forth proposals to integrate schools along socioeconomic lines (Klein, 2016). Research shows that “socioeconomically and racially balanced schools—in which affluent students still constitute a majority—help lessen the achievement gap between rich and poor students at no cost to the performance of more advantaged pupils”(Klein, 2016). Parents who oppose this idea have expressed concerns that people from lower socioeconomic classes may not place the same value on education and that “low-income schools will never perform well because those parents are less involved”(Klein, 2016). These objections are in line with the myth of the culture of poverty that has been perpetuated in our society and erroneously used to explain why there is an achievement gap between lower and higher socioeconomic students (Gorski, 2008). According to Paul Gorski’s article on the myth of the culture of poverty, “in our determination to fix the mythical culture of poor students, we ignore the ways in which our society cheats them out of opportunities that their wealthier peers take for granted”(Gorski, 2008).

If we want to create a truly equitable education system, we need to not only make funding more equitable but also make the necessary efforts to ensure that poor families in our country can give their children the basic things needed for a happy and healthy life. This means raising the minimum wage so that low-income parents don’t have to work multiple jobs to get by and can have the time to get involved in their children’s education. We need to drastically decrease the number of students who go to school hungry and rely on the free lunch program as the only meal they know for certain they will get that day. We need to provide support that goes far beyond the classroom because the only way to make education truly equitable is to make our society as a whole more equitable.

 

 

Resources:

 

Barshay, Jill (2015). The gap between rich and poor schools grew 44 percent over a decade. The Heching Report. Retrieved from http://hechingerreport.org/the-gap-between-rich-and-poor-schools-grew-44-percent-over-a-decade/

 

Cooper, Brad (2015, February 5). Gov. Sam Brownback is cutting aid to Kansas schools by $44.5 million. The Kansas City Star. Retrieved from http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article9376751.html

 

Gjaja, Marin, Puckett, J., & Ryder, Matt (2014, February 18). Equity is the Key to Better School Funding. Education Week. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/02/19/21puckett.h33.html

 

Gorski, P. (2008). The Myth of the “Culture of Poverty.” Educational Leadership, 65(7), 32-36.

 

Klein, Rebecca (2016, March 16). At 15, She Desegregated An All-White School. At 73, She’s Fighting To Do It Again. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dorothy-counts-scoggins-desegregate_us_56e09afce4b0860f99d7b83e

 

Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (2013, February 1). Are countries moving towards more equitable education systems? Pisa in Focus 25(2), 1-4.

The Texas Tribune (2016). Public School Funding in Texas. The Texas Tribune. Retrieved from https://www.texastribune.org/tribpedia/public-school-funding-in-texas/about/

Ethical Dilemma Case Study

It is often difficult to define “ethical behavior” because it depends largely on the individual. Regardless, it is especially important that educators adhere to a certain level of moral conduct because they work with children and adolescents. In order to examine how teachers should deal with ethical dilemmas, our Educational Foundations class looked into case studies dealing with difficult situations and how to solve them. The following is my thought process of how to solve an ethical dilemma in the best way possible.

This case study deals with several sensitive topics including racial differences and language barriers as well as the student’s right to an equal education. Rumors are being spread that the family of one of my students is in the U.S. illegally. There is nothing to support this claim other than assumptions drawn from the fact that there are several Spanish-speaking students in the class and because they don’t speak English, some have drawn the conclusion that they must be here illegally. As a result of this rumor, parents of other students in my class are expressing concern that their tax dollars should not be used to pay for an alleged illegal immigrant to attend school. The dilemma is whether to report the parents who have been accused of illegal immigration, to ignore the rumors and complaints in hopes that the situation will die down, or to do something else.

This sensitive issue, along with other such dilemmas, requires the teacher to use their best judgment along with what they believe to be the most ethical solution. Deciding on a solution that fits within these parameters can be difficult. Luckily, the National Education Agency as well as each individual state’s board of education provides codes of ethics for educators. These codes of ethics give an outline of what behavior is expected of teachers.

The specific standards that pertain to this case as stated in the Texas Code of Ethics are the following:

Standard 3.1. The educator shall not reveal confidential information concerning students unless disclosure serves a lawful professional purpose or is required by law.

Standard 3.3. The educator shall not intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly misrepresent facts regarding a student.

Standard 3.4. The educator shall not exclude a student from participation in a program, deny benefits to a student, or grant an advantage to a student on the basis of race, color, gender, disability, nation of origin, religion, family status, or sexual orientation (State Board for Educator Certification [SBEC], 2011).

Of these standards, Standard 3.4 is the most important and dictates that the teacher has a responsibility to ensure that all students receive an equal education. In a similar sense, the NEA Code of Ethics states that it is essential to the goals of ethical conduct that teachers protect the freedom “to learn and to teach and the guarantee of equal educational opportunity for all” (National Education Association [NEA], 2010). The student’s well being should be the most important factor when considering this dilemma. This also involves the student’s family, the well being of other Spanish-speaking students who could be accused of being in the US illegally as a result of these rumors, and the parents who are lashing out at the possibility of their tax dollars funding the education of illegal immigrants.

Before coming up with a plan, I would want to find out how this rumor got started and what the motives are for spreading this information. It does not concern me whether or not the rumor is true, the student is in my class and therefore I owe them a quality education. I may ask the parents who are angry at this information why this matters so much to them. It may be a simple misunderstanding that can be quelled with a little clarification.

Based on the information I have, I can see two courses of action. I could try to stamp out the rumor and make it clear to the upset parents that my job is to educate all of my students or ignore the rumors but talk to my administrators to ensure that if any of the disgruntled parents try to cause problems, I can ensure that my students and their families are protected. Under no circumstance would I report that the family of a student is in the U.S. illegally based on a rumor, or any reason for that matter. Of course these actions would have consequences. Both run the risk of increased tension and anger from the parents until the situation is resolved and the rumors stop. In addition, the parents who expressed frustration may become angry with me for sticking up for the alleged illegal immigrants and they may continue to spread rumors. In the worst case scenario, not dealing with the rumors could fuel the speculation and put more students and their families at risk of discrimination and potential deportation and create distrust in the Spanish-speaking community.

In this case, I believe the best option is to first speak with administrators, explaining the situation and stating that I plan on ignoring the rumor and encouraging the angry parents to do the same thing. The administration needs to be aware of the potential problems that could arise for the Spanish-speaking students in the school if rumors like this persist. As the teacher, your number one responsibility is to your students and ensuring that they all receive an excellent education in a safe and comfortable environment. My Spanish-speaking students and their families are being attacked by this rumor and because of this, I am obligated to do something to take action that protects them. The court ruling in Plyler v. Doe establishes that children of illegal immigrants cannot be denied or forced to pay for their education while in the United States. The larger risk in this case is that angry parents spurred on by a rumor could potentially take action against the student’s family. Because of this, the school administration must be aware of the situation and help myself and other community members address the prejudice and rumors that are affecting the students.

According to the Texas Code of Ethics, “The Texas educator shall comply with standard practices and ethical conduct toward students, professional colleagues, school officials, parents, and members of the community and shall safeguard academic freedom” (SBEC, 2011). This decision best aligns with the goal to act ethically in regard to all groups involved while achieving the ultimate goal of safeguarding the academic freedom of my students. As an educator, I accept full responsibility for the equal education of all students. My responsibility is to the students and I am committed to conducting myself in the highest ethical standard. My action in this situation is what I believe to be best for all of my students and because of that, I am willing to accept any consequences that may come from it. The biggest consequence that could come from this plan of action would be that some of the parents who were unhappy might direct their anger toward me. Because of this, I need to make sure that the administration at my school is fully aware of the situation and will give me their support if the parents try to take action against me. Constructing ethical solutions to difficult problems is a complicated task but it is essential that teachers act with their students’ best interest in mind.

 

 

Resources:

National Education Association (2010). Code of Ethics of the Education Profession. Retrieved from: http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/2013-NEA-Handbook-Code-of-Ethics.pdf.

 

State Board for Educator Certification (2010). Code of Ethics and Standard Practices for Texas Educators. Retrieved from: http://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.ViewTAC?tac_view=4&ti=19&pt=7&ch=247&rl=Y

Teacher Ethics

Ethical behavior can be defined differently based on personal values, beliefs, and even the situation. There is no widely accepted standard for determining, finitely at least, if an action is ethical. Because of this, codes of ethics can serve as helpful guidelines for determining the standard of behavior that is expected. For teachers, adhering to a set code of ethics is essential due to the nature of the profession. According to the Educators’ Code of Ethics of the Texas State Board for Educator Certification, “The Texas educator, in maintaining the dignity of the profession, shall respect and obey the law, demonstrate personal integrity, and exemplify honesty and good moral character” (State Board for Educator Certification [SBEC], 2011). What distinguishes an educator who possesses good moral character from one who doesn’t?

Both the NEA Codes of Ethics and the Texas Educators’ Code of Ethics provide an outline of what ethical behavior toward students, colleagues, and the teaching profession should look like. While most of the items seem like common sense, it is important for the teaching profession that educators are provided with a set of standards they must adhere to and will be held accountable for. Each code is divided into sections that deal with the teacher’s responsibilities to their students and their responsibilities to the profession. The preamble to the NEA Code of Ethics is especially powerful stating the following:

The educator, believing in the worth and dignity of each human being, recognizes the supreme importance of the pursuit of truth, devotion to excellence, and the nurture of democratic principles. Essential to these goals is the protection of freedom to learn and to teach and the guarantee of equal educational opportunity for all. The educator accepts the responsibility to adhere to the highest ethical standard (National Education Association [NEA], 2010, p. 431).

This statement eloquently expresses that the ethical responsibilities of teachers is first and foremost the protection and respect of the rights and well being of the people you work with. In addition, because teachers work with children and adolescents, it is important for them to model the tenants of ethical behavior in the school and set an example for all students. The idea of teachers as moral examples has been prevalent in American education since Colonial times and was a major argument for the feminization of the profession (Goldstein, 2014). As teachers, it is not only important to exhibit good ethics but also to teach our students how to be ethical citizens.

Students are bombarded with ethical dilemmas on a daily basis that they must navigate through while simultaneously trying to fit in with their peers and as the saying goes, what is right is not always what is popular. Bullying is one of the most pressing issues children will come in contact with and studies show that in most cases, peers are often better agents of change than teachers (Rodkin, 2011). By creating an environment where students learn the importance of respect and understand that everyone should be treated equally, teachers can help students learn the importance of doing the right thing. It may be beneficial for teachers to set up a code of ethics for their classroom in order to establish both the teacher’s responsibilities to the students and the students’ responsibilities to the teacher and to each other. The purpose of a code of ethics is largely to hold people accountable for the things they already know they should be doing. Displaying good moral behavior is essential for teachers because we cannot expect to hold our students accountable for their behavior if we cannot hold ourselves accountable for our own behavior.

 

References:

Goldstein, D. (2014). The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession. New York: Doubleday.

National Education Association (2010). Code of Ethics of the Education Profession. Retrieved from: http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/2013-NEA-Handbook-Code-of-Ethics.pdf.

Rodkin, P.C. (2011). Bullying—And the Power of Peers. Educational Leadership, 69(1), 10-15.

State Board for Educator Certification (2010). Code of Ethics and Standard Practices for Texas Educators. Retrieved from: http://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.ViewTAC?tac_view=4&ti=19&pt=7&ch=247&rl=Y