Ethical Behavior of a Teacher
Ethical Behavior of a Teacher
Profession and applied ethics are integral part of the teaching profession. Though there remains the fact that interpretation of ethics and moral differ from teacher to teacher, ethics shall be derived from teaching and ethics shall be applied in teaching as well (Warschaw, 2006). As such, ethics is essential and shall be embedded on every aspect of teaching wherein teachers require to a deeper awareness of various ethical considerations involved in the profession. If teachers are well-aware and more conscious of their ethical and moral aspects of the job which include modelling ethical behaviour for the students, then ethical knowledge could professionalize the field of teaching (Davis, 2009).
Basically, teaching is a unique field where practitioners are expected to uphold ethical principles as they perform the job. Arguably, Campbell (2003) noted that most teachers are oblivious not just of the ethical decisions they make on a daily basis but also of the ethical decision making as a process as well. While there are teachers who possess heightened awareness and sensitivity to the decisions they make, there are also teachers who do not necessarily put ethical value of their decisions inside and outside classrooms. Those teachers who make ethical decision are basing their decisions on the core principles of honesty, integrity, courage, dedication, justice and compassion (Graham and Cline, 1997). As such, teachers are working with students who are impressionable and who constantly take lessons from the teachers’ decisions and actions. Teachers, on the other hand, constantly make decisions that rely on some sort of ethical decision making process. This applies from curricular decisions down to enforcing discipline inside the classroom. In so doing, teachers and their actions are subject to more academic consequences.
Further, Campbell (2003) asserts that teachers and their actions and decisions are subjected to ethical dilemmas. Teachers face ethical dilemmas and circumstances whereby their own moral code is being contested by their colleagues as well as the administrators, school community and union of teachers among others. For instance, the school administration implements policies that at times may be questionable and unfair given the student circumstances. On the one hand, when teachers question these policies, they would be acting against the school and may be perceive as inappropriate and unethical from the perspective of the administration. On the other hand, when teachers do not question specific rules and policies they may be acting unethical towards themselves as they suspend their right to be heard. At the same time, when teachers do not impose the rule or policy that for them is unethical, they tend to voice their concerns in the classroom. Consequence is that moral actions and decisions learning by the students may be affected as well as their perceptions to the teacher himself/herself. This can be considered as disservice to the profession as the teacher’s main goal is to shape the students in the way that they can be citizens of high morals and values (Benninga, 2003). Ethical responsibilities therefore should be a structured and planned process that involves all the members of the academic community.
Moreover, teachers are also subjected to unwritten codes such as not questioning the colleagues and keeping to one’s own classroom (Scheopner, 2005). These situations manifest the nature of the working conditions of the teachers which is isolated working. Such a situation do not allow confrontations hence many fail to report or simply act on unethical, wrongful and even abusive behaviours of teachers. The tendency is for teachers to revert on staffroom gossip, which is also unethical, exposing the students to more intolerable behaviours. With this, the decision of the teacher to act or not may also have some consequences. For example, the administration may or may not support the action of the teacher as it can ruin the reputation of the school itself. School administration covertly discourages teachers to report other teachers’ misconduct (Campbell, 2003). More so, teachers who do report often faced with resentment from the colleagues and resentment from the administration and union.
In sum, ethical knowledge, actions and decisions are very important in the field of teaching as ethicality is being trickled down to the students. While being ethical forms part of the servitude of the teachers, teachers are subjected to different ethical dilemmas. Conflicts can be apparent among teachers and between teachers and the administration and the union. Nevertheless, in professionalizing the field of teaching, teachers have to become more aware on their own ethicality.
Benninga, J. S. (2003). Moral and Ethical Issues in Teacher Education. ERIC Clearing House on Teaching and Teacher Education.
Campbell, E. (2003). The Ethical Teacher. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Davis, C. (2009). Teachers must model ethical behaviour. Journal Sentinel Online.
Graham, T. P. & Cline, P. C. (1997). The Ethical Behavior of Teachers in an Ever-Changing American Social System. Education Resources Information Center.
Scheopner, A. (2005). Ethics and Ethical Knowledge in Teaching: A Book Review. Teaching Exceptional Children Journal, 1(3): 1-6.
Warschaw, C. (2006). Ethical Behavior in the Workplace. Articles Directory.
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