Maintaining A Professional Image Ethically As A Student Developing Superhero

In the society we live in today our typical go to when anything goes wrong or against the way we would like we have an impulse to fight the urge of responsibility. Our reactions easily take on the form of blaming, defending, or complaining. Throughout all walks of professional life those who are in leadership roles become the frequent targets whether misguided or accurate judgements. Navigating how to maintain a professional look to those who will quickly without hesitation react to place part ownership of a person’s actions on us. Teachers can get the great praise when a student achieves and the mark at the end of a pointed finger when something perceivably goes wrong. Under this umbrella is false accusations from various scenarios from words taken out of context to students feeling there is prejudice towards them for no reason whatsoever. The professional teacher will no doubt be faced with these circumstances and how they address it will enable them to prosper in developing outstanding young people.

Teaching is often looked at for what happens in the forty-five or so minutes in a class period. That however is just the tip of the iceberg. Down below is the work, planning, organizing, researching, creating, and just about every other action word ending with “ing”. Part of this before stage is the teacher establishing their professional image. Within the established code of ethics the number two principle “Responsibility for Professional Competence”. Displaying the proper competency to withhold both a personal and a professional standard is a key ethical principle. To prepare for the accusations that could occur the teacher must develop their professional image. It starts with the teacher. How they dress, appear, speak, and showcase true character. The professional image is influenced additionally nowadays through social media presence and what is posted. This speaks to a teacher fulfilling the discipline to maintain standards with the right decisions making. A teacher who uses social media for the benefit of their profession will aid their image and give credibility to who they are as a professional person. They can also make great use to ethically promote more opportunities for students and work like a person in the medical field to work in the best way as an advocate for the students that they teach and are in the school they teach. This is why added principle number five “Responsible and Ethical Use of Technology” is such a key piece. Nowadays teachers must ethically use social media in the right manner when sharing things with students, there is certainly a place as long as the line is not crossed. Technology and social media is so crucial to our society and has such impact on the students we interact with. Technology and being involved on social media is a must for every professional and this includes teachers. Teachers should be on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat (the newest wave), and blogs. The opportunities from using this platform is incredibly high, however lack of ethics lead a teacher to potential hazards. Social media offers the chance to connect with teachers around the world, connect with school programs/teams, and most importantly offer the world the chance to see great things that arise from the classroom. In my personal experience as well I can see what is going on in school with students and be engaged in the life they have as much ad they are engaged in what goes on in the classroom. The safety and wellbeing is ethically the most important item. Ethically using social media and understanding technology is a standard that comes into play more and more, therefore mandating teacher know to follow through on them. From there the image of a teacher is brought into the school walls by how they display energy, communicate with students, are involved with extracurriculars, and ultimately how they build relationships. This meets ethical standards engaging their school and community population.The students in their classes become students for a lifetime and allow the teacher to extend their reach to more and more students. This very image sets the table for those in administration to understand that when accusations are made towards the teacher they are false. Principle number two provides exemplary details into how a teacher ethically must be up to standard to be their best for the students and school they serve.

When looking at the Northwest Education Educators blog post entitled “Protect Yourself From False Accusations” we are privy to understanding real situations that could play out that influence a classroom and teacher image. The fourteen steps can be groups into similar category situations. They would be classroom situations, student-teacher relationship situations, and student interactions/communication situations.

First, the place most often spent between students and teachers will be the classroom. This means in the Model Code of Ethics for Educators, as promoted by the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, principle number one must be looked at as number one. The ethic duty for a teacher to be a professional for the profession of teaching and education. Proudly upholding the duties of teachers mean doing all things necessary to care for oneself, co-workers, students, and ultimately everyone related to the school system. Ironically one of the guiding subpoints states “Holding oneself responsible for ethical conduct;”. To ethically honor the profession of teaching, molding, we must live to perform at a higher standard. When the personal image of the teacher is upheld they hold responsibility to make sure other professionals apply themselves ethically as well. A group of ethically sound teachers can do wonders. The classroom is like a small city with all the nuances it has. Just like a city it has its great and easy going scenarios, but it also has its potential hiccups. One situation that often occurs is when a teacher needs to pick something up at the copier or check in with the room down the hall. The choice to leave, even just momentarily a classroom filled with students unsupervised can become a major issue. Leaving the classroom makes the teacher appear to be negligent to their classes. Especially at younger grade levels this will not comply with school standards of safety being the first concern for the students. To eliminate this the teacher should send a student, best if the student is predesignated, to go pick up the printouts or whatever task was needed to be done. Teachers should think that if it to complex for a student to go accomplish then the teacher should think ahead and get it done either before or after class, even on the teachers prep period. Another classroom situation that should be avoided is when a teacher is found to be in their class alone with the teacher. Rule of thumb is that any student of the opposite sex should be talked to amongst others who are around or an open door. Ethically teachers are responsible for never forming inappropriate relationships with current and former students. Professional relationships status are key in being a teacher. To justify, teachers must develop relationships that are ethically sustained by being a presence, a significant presence no less, in the individual's life that satisfies the enrichment of a long and healthy relationship. The professional duty of care an educator must posses knows what to do in the best way in a way no lines are ethically crossed. The line of being ethically and morally enriching for a students life is also quite frankly the best for the student. This is not meant to demean the student, but prevent any accusation. Not following through leads to yellow flags and takes to the student teacher relationship to inappropriate levels. Methods for preventing this is to keep the door open in the class and also make sure other students are in the area when talking with a student one on one. Additionally, teachers can walk with th student into the hallways or a open area outside of the classroom. Using the city example we know that there are often times of frustration. In a classroom teachers absolutely cannot use any physical force on a student. There is a clear line that this is a zero tolerance policy. Aggressive force is often not the issue, but more or less when voices are raised and a teacher goes to console a student by placing their hand on the students shoulder. This breaks the student and teacher boundaries and can be prevented by establishing classroom management procedures that eliminate the issue before it starts are by asking the student to sit to help control the situation. For younger students a teacher should never change diapers or clothes without at least one adult present. This prevents any hearsay or misrepresentation of actions taken by the teacher. In association with classroom activity teacher must not enact a search of a student for items on their person. Knowing school policy and who to go to will keep the teacher from overstepping their bounds. If a teacher believes a student in their class is in possession of illegal items on school property; drugs, weapons, explicit material, they must go to the school administration or security by giving them a call to come to the classroom. Teachers have the right, which is especially unique, to search students and eradicate any items or materials that present an opportunity to negatively affect or harm other students. The teacher is a leader in the classroom they hold and in the school they proudly serve. Yes, ethically and morally teachers should stand up to protect their students, but in plain terms teachers are just being people who lead, develop, and protect the individuals who call themselves student. The teacher and student relationship is like no other human relationship. Strong ethics are necessary to justify the role the teachers possess. Similar to are faithful people in blue uniforms teachers agree to serve and protect our students because they serve us in such amazing ways over the course of their development.

Next, we have steps to cover student and teacher relationships for the benefit of the teacher.  Foremost the relationship must be professional. Communication must be appropriate while still being effective for the student. Things like not giving a personal phone number are smart moves for teachers. In circumstances like coaches there are numbers exchanged, however these students are instructed the number is not meant to be shared. Currently there are many apps such as Remind, Google Classroom, or Team Reach which helps teachers and coaches communicate appropriately with their students. Teachers must also not drive the students around. There are circumstances in which a parent of a student gives a teacher or coach permission to drive them home, but it would be best to have it in writing or not do it at all. All it takes is an outsider viewing and perceiving something. School administration should be alerted to also stave off false accusations. Proper communications typically saves all. To also maintain student relationship a teacher must understand the school punishment policy and not administer any punishment outside of their responsibility. Ethically though teachers do have the right to remove students from the classroom. Why would this fall under the scope of ethical teacher responsibility? Teachers are morally obligated to create a classroom culture that is managed to the highest standard. Clear communication establishes safety measures, behavior systems, and an overall set of consequences. Teachers are justified to uphold their leadership status by a ruling by the Supreme Court to secure the classroom environment. Teachers ethically control the classroom, even the halls they are in. They can feel empowered to command the students by communicating what should be done. If this cannot be controlled by the teacher it is in the best interest of the schools students that administration and/or counselors can be assets. It is not passing it along, but merely doing due diligence in allowing the right staff to address any punishment issues. If this is done the teacher overextends their rights and does more harm to their image with other students. What a standard line to have, but the power affiliated allows for the teacher to justify the action to create consequences. Teachers, like students, must learn the codes and bylaws established in the nation, state, and school cooperation the teacher is employed by. The relationship of the student and teacher is a great one when done right. Teachers want to make their students better and often work with them on classwork. Teachers must understand they work for a school and should not offer tutoring sessions for students in their classes for a fee. This implies students can try to pay for a grade which is ethically not right. Teachers should still work with students to develop them and also have resources of other tutoring services for third party people in the event the student was additional training.

Finally, one area in which false accusations can be made is when there are teacher and student interaction or communication situations. Previously touched on was concepts to help teachers communicate effectively with students. To provide support as a teacher when having to make a call to a student the parent should be sought out and included in the conversation.The more professional a teacher is with the students the better there is for students to grow and develop and see the teacher as someone to benefit them in school. To be clear the teacher, the developer, has the moral obligation to put the student’s education at the highest level of priority. While in the educational setting which the legal definition describes as “any building, structure and surrounding outdoor grounds contained within a public or private pre-school's, nursery school, elementary school's, high school's, vocational learning center's, child care facility's” the teacher has required standard to honor and protect the honor of education. In addition to typical interactions the teacher must also be very good at organizing their documents, records, and receipts to give proper identification. Lack of organization may seem like a characteristic people have, but the teacher justifiably so cannot produce a learning centered environment without caring organization. This way the teacher can have proof for any comments, purchases or any other items involved with school, students, and the all important money. Through the accurate records teachers can show proof of their actions in the event they come into question or need to be turned in to a school treasurer. When teachers over see student, or school, activities they are ethically bound as well to create full supervision to the level of planning, implementation, adapting, and executing. Risk assessments are to be made by the teacher, the leader.  Ethically teachers must also be fully capable to lead the activities. Whether it be experienced, licensed/certified, and rightfully skilled the teacher must have these justifications to lead activities. Everything with the teacher interactions can be fairly concrete, however when safety and abuse become an issue everyone gets on their tippy toes. School policy and administration yearly will outline the principles for reporting and how to act in potential child abuse. When administration provides support of their teachers to do their due diligence in protecting the physical safety of the schools students. Laws that protect children are established which require the teacher to report any intervention to physically protect the student. This is ethically correct, this is legally correct, this is intrinsically human correct. The teacher should first and foremost not go about this alone and bring in support from a counselor and administrator. Seeking the social worker, resource officer, or other designated staff member within the school or school district. This is done for legal reasons for protection of the teacher who ethically did their job in the harsh situation that is child abuse. If the teacher follows the outlined policy they will understand the steps to follow which include contacting protective services. The interactions of teachers and students can be cloudy, but when the teacher uses the school policy they can eliminate false accusations and ethically feel justified in creating a place of equal opportunity for students and staff to thrive.

Successful people in all walks of life have a high standard and uphold a moral code of ethics to meet the needs of those they impact. Teachers must take the definition of ethics to heart. Ethics have the important phrase “govern a person's behavior” and when we think about govern the root word of governor, elected executive in a government system, we realize the teacher must take ownership of their field of play. The ethics covered above relate to situations, struggles, and job duties the teacher must more or less physically do. Ethically, true ethics, must also create in a teacher, developer of others, the kinds of intangible traits that inherently lead students to become A+ individuals in life's classroom. For example, knowledge is an ethical trait teachers must posses. Teachers have the duty to grow their knowledge to bring the best to the students, to make high quality decisions to present developing lessons, and capture the scope of students the teacher will develop. Teachers ethically must be carriers of tremendous empathy and reasoning. Empathy is a forgotten aspect teachers must carry. Love and Logic one liners are prime examples of how teachers should act. Much of the professional image is acting morally responsible and empathy skills help justify a great teacher. To add to this list I would look at the trait of courage. Yes, courage is something ethically sound teachers have. This courage trait allows for teachers to do their job and stand up for themselves, their profession, and the students served. Ethical encounters also come through in interpersonal, people, skills. Teachers ethically cannot lose themselves, their emotions, and body language to best develop the students. Ethic standards breach many levels. To just think this is but a glimpse into the ethical and moral obligations teachers are held to makes them somewhat of a superhero. Thoughts that what teachers are. They are superheros, the people who in everyday life wear normal looking clothes, but once in a classroom they put on their powerfully fashionable outfit and lead individuals in their care in and out of all situations. Being sure to follow proper outlines for behavior and interaction will prevent the teacher from  fumbling these situations. The professional image is something to kept and preparing beforehand can protect a teacher as they do the great job of developing students in the classroom.


Steven Hovermale