When parents send their children to school, they expect the teachers to set a good example. Usually, if their child picks up a bad habit, they blame a fellow student.
However, what happens when it’s the teacher? The bigger question – is anyone holding K-12 teachers accountable when it comes to being better role models? If not, how can you start?
Students Are Watching
Despite the theory that students aren’t paying attention, they are. In fact, everything from the school environment to how care and transplantation written by professional teachers handle themselves in a stressful situation all impact a student both now and in the future. For instance, a student coming from a bad home life might be inspired by certain teachers to strive for something more. Without those role models, students might feel like unethical behavior is okay.
As the Concordia University in Portland points out, teachers are responsible for planting seeds. This is why students come back to thank those teachers who made such an impact in their lives.
Common Ethical Issues For Teachers
The classroom isn’t always going to be a great environment for a teacher. There will be unruly students, students who simply don’t care and those who are out to make a teacher’s life miserable. However, none of that is any excuse for unethical behavior.
When it comes to ethics for K-12 teachers, you’ll likely find issues such as:
- Choosing favorites while ignoring other students who need help
- Talking negatively about students with other teachers, especially where other students can hear
- Refusing to answer questions during or after class
- Grading unfairly or taking bribes
- Inappropriate behavior with students
- Trying to be the fun teacher by not actually teaching anything
- Conflicts with other teachers
- Unfair discipline or treatment, such as assigning impossible amounts of homework to specific students
- Berating or purposely embarrassing students in from of other students
While some of these might not sound so bad, they have a lasting impact on students. This isn’t the example teachers should set, but what can be done to change it?
Ethics Policies For K-12 Teachers
The most important thing is to have a policy in place for what is and isn’t acceptable. While teachers should already know this, it’s important to have it in writing to avoid having someone say that just didn’t know what they were doing was wrong. There should even be a way to ensure even tenured teachers can be held accountable, as this is an issue.
Next, both teachers and students should be encouraged to report unethical behavior. However, students in particular are often afraid of speaking up. They’re afraid of being treated even worse. Students should have access to an anonymous hotline to report issues with teachers. While some will be petty, such as having a pop quiz, others will point out highly unethical behavior.
The only way to improve the ethics of teachers and ensure they’re the best role models for students is to hold them accountable. This means students and teachers must speak up when something is wrong.