Sunday, January 4, 2015

Essay: Pennsylvania's Code of Conduct for Educators

The following is an essay with information regarding Pennsylvania's Code of Conduct for Educators. The essay was originally written in 2012.  The full code of conduct can be found by clicking here.

Pennsylvania's Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators relates to daily issues and practices for classroom teachers, both in and out of the classroom.  The formal document's goal is to provide “leadership for improving the quality of education in this Commonwealth by establishing high standards for preparation, certification, practice and ethical conduct in the teacher profession” (Section 1).  The document clearly states what is appropriate for teachers and what is not.  Failure to follow the laws result in violations or consequences; therefore, it is imperative to obey what the document says.  As an aspiring teacher, it is important to know these rules since many implications regarding the code of conduct may appear.  

The purpose of Pennsylvania's Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators is that the students should “receive the highest quality of service and that every professional maintains a high level of competence from entry through ongoing professional development” (Section 3).  The code of conduct enforces teachers to provide the best quality of education.  A teacher's number one priority should be the student's learning.  Educators need to keep current with research and technology in order to give students the greatest education possible.  In addition, educators must take responsibility for their students, along with their potential.  In other words, teachers should do what is in the best interest of their students.  The students should be put first, and teachers must take responsibility for the class.

One rule is that a teacher can only legally teach in his or her certified area, unless there is a short term emergency, such as substituting.  Students need to receive the best education as possible, and that will only happen if they are being taught by somebody who has a lot of knowledge in a specific subject area.  Although it may be financially better for a school district to have one teacher teach multiple subjects, it is not legal unless the teacher is certified in those multiple areas.  This law is important for prospective teachers so that they can be fully prepared for their subject area of interest.  

Another code of conduct is to treat everyone equally.  There shall be no discrimination.  Civil rights includes – but is not limited to – “race, ethnicity, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age, political stance, and socioeconomic status” (Section 8:1).  This practice will certainly come up in a classroom because of the ranges of diversity.  As a teacher, it is important to treat everybody equally and not favorite a certain individual.  Because everyone is different, students may not treat their classmates with the proper respect; however, as a teacher, it is important to set the boundaries to make sure that everybody is treated with kindness.  Teachers act as role models, so when teachers are respectful and do not discriminate, students will realize that they should be compassionate.  The practice of treating everybody equally should apply for all occupations, and should apply everywhere in general.  Diversity is everywhere, and it is morally correct to respect everybody, regardless of the setting.

“Professional educators shall exhibit acceptable and professional language and communication skills,” (Section 4:7) meaning that good communication is extremely important, especially for teachers.  Students cannot learn if there is not any communication.  Without communication, much confusion would take place: students would not know their homework assignments or when the next test would be, for example. Teachers must be able to communicate not only with their students, but with other teachers and student's parents as well.  Communicating with other teachers makes it possible to stay on the same schedule or pace with another class, preventing students from falling behind.  Communicating with colleagues creates a great way to share lesson plans or ideas, resulting in the best possible education for the students.  Communication with parents is extremely important since parents are interested in their child's studies.  Parents like to know their child's grades or keep track of what their child is doing in school.  

Without communication, schooling is not possible.  The way a person communicates tells a lot about a person, therefore it is important to communicate in a professional and acceptable manner.  The code of conduct mentions a specific way that teachers should communicate: they should communicate in a way that will “reflect sensitivity to the fundamental human rights of dignity, privacy and respect” (Section 4:7).  Good communication is needed outside the classroom as well, so teachers should display this form of communication in public.  Good communication prevents any form of negative interactions.

It is important to be open-minded and knowledgeable, but also use appropriate judgment at the same time.  Controversial subjects will appear in the classroom, and teachers need to  know an appropriate way of covering those topics.  Also, various issues will come up in the classroom, as teachers need to know the best way to handle specific situations.  For example, students will have different opinions, so teachers should not judge what a student says, even if the opinion is different from the teacher's.  People need to respect the opinion of others outside of the classroom as well, not only to keep the peace, but to gain knowledge. 

Keeping information confidential is essential.  Teachers will receive many important files when they are teaching, so it is important to keep them in a safe spot.  Simply leaving an important document on the top of a desk could end up being seen by the wrong person, such as a snooping student.  Grades are extremely confidential, so teachers can only give grades to the students who receive them.  In the real world, confidentiality is important, not only for legal documents.  Confidentiality is linked to trust.  For example, friends might not want secrets being spread.

Protecting students and making sure that they are safe is crucial.  Teachers need to make the environmental as safe and healthy as possible.  Examples include making sure that a student does not eat something they are allergic to, or making sure that the entire class follows fire drill procedures correctly.  Keeping children safe is the most important job of a school, as teachers must take responsibility for their class.

“Professional practices are behaviors and attitudes that are based on a set of values that the professional education community believes and accepts” (Section 4).  Pennsylvania's Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators clearly states what the practices are.  All educators are expected to abide by the various practices.  Additionally, “individual professional conduct reflects upon the practices, values, integrity and reputation of the profession” (Section 5).  How the code of conduct is followed reflects a lot about a teacher, and whether or not they deserve a job.  In conclusion, knowing Pennsylvania's Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators is essential to know because many of the issues and rules will arise in the teaching profession.

1 comment: