Educators: Four Everyday Ethical Practices to Prime Your Moral Compass
It’s inescapable that at some point in their careers, every teacher is faced with ethical and moral issues that require sound judgment. In fact, it would almost be impossible to find a teaching professional who has never grappled with such dilemmas. While developing your skills in good decision making, you’ll need to keep in mind the six elements comprising the code of ethics—knowledge, empathy, reasoning, appreciation for moral considerations, courage, and interpersonal skills. Internalizing these will ultimately lead to appropriate actions. Nonetheless, such cases hardly exhaust the ethical responsibilities of a teacher. The bigger picture has an even more serious and important area to deal with—the everyday ethics of teaching:
1. Keeping Up With Ethics Essentials
While the responsibility for providing children with a strong ethical grounding falls largely on parents, educational institutions also have a big role to play in shaping the moral character of young people. Children acquire knowledge about what’s right and wrong in classrooms where they spend most of their growing years. They can receive many lessons of wisdom in life in school. Experiences from the classroom during the formative years provide children with attributes they apply lifelong in their behaviors and actions. Teachers’ examples leave strong impressions on children, and teachers often serve as role models for their students. Children’s classroom experiences don’t necessarily have to be strong or severe to leave lasting impressions. A teacher’s rude comments to a particular student could trigger responses in students that they’ll keep for their entire lives. Teachers must be aware that they send strong ethical messages to their students by their choices and decisions.
2. Setting a Personal Example
Teachers can, by way of what they do and say, influence students to emulate them. They provide guidance not only through direct lecture, but also by modeling moral behavior. A teacher who encourages children to deal with interpersonal problems, but who confronts students by shouting and making threats, is not modeling the appropriate behavior.
3. Establishing Ethical Dialogue in Classrooms
Establishing an ethical dialogue in the classroom whenever a situation arises is an excellent way to instill moral values in students. Discussing core values such as honesty, truthfulness, and respectability helps students understand good ethical behavior, as well as how to differentiate good from bad. By giving examples from everyday life, and from historical and literary figures, teachers can help students reflect on core values from multiple perspectives. Ethical lessons taught to students often remain with them throughout their lives. It’s also valuable for students to watch their teachers reflecting and updating their own personal code of ethics, because this will provide them with guidelines on how to conduct this process themselves in the future.
4. Creating a Congenial Classroom Environment
The classroom environment also has ethical dimensions. Teachers who create classroom environments with the expectation that students will interact with each other in an open, just, and honest manner set the tone for an ethically inviting learning space.
Ethics are not just for the big, extraordinary scenarios. Ethics are for everyday, commonplace issues, too. Keep in mind the four daily ethical practices we described here, and your moral compass will be primed and ready when the hard hitters come your way.