Moral and Ethical Issues in Teacher Education. ERIC Digest.
This ERIC digest will address two components related to the moral and ethical preparation of teachers. First it will consider issues related to the identification and assessment of professional education, and then it will address foundations and specific models for the preservice training of teachers of character. ISSUES OF PROFESSIONAL ETHICS IN EDUCATION
Consider Irma, the student teacher. Not only does she already have a contract from the rural district in which she was born and raised, she is also bilingual. Irma wants to live in the community and teach in the elementary school in which she was taught. She has a natural rapport with children and a positive personality. As the student teaching semester progresses, Irma's Master Teacher Mrs. Baxter grows increasingly uncomfortable. Irma is enrolled in a full set of courses during the student teaching semester and works 30-40 hours a week. Her relationship wit her boyfriend is serious and takes additional time. Because of this busy schedule, it is difficult for Irma and Mrs. Baxter to meet to discuss the classroom curriculum and review teaching plans. Mrs. Baxter offers to meet with Irma before class, at 7:00a.m., but Irma has difficulty getting to school that early because of her late night hours at work. Meetings between the two are sporadic. Mrs. Baxter has noticed other behaviors that bother her about Irma. For example, she has observed that on the playground Irma watches the students, but does not actively interact with them. In the computer room, Irma searches the web, but does not help the children. She has asked Irma to prepare a theme unit and has given her time at school to prepare. But it is now three days before the unit is to begin and there are no plans and Irma has not discussed the unit with Mrs. Baxter. Mrs. Baxter feels that perhaps Irma is just "putting in time" because she knows she has a job waiting and the other facets of her life--her class work, her job, her boyfriend--have taken precedence. Irma's performance as a professional-in-training is inadequate. She's involved in many activities and has interests that compete with her professional preparation. Though Irma has potential, her behavior is "unprofessional" or even "professionally unethical." That is, if ethics is concerned with actions and practice, with what one ought to do (Pojman, pp.1-2), them Irma's actions do not represent ethical behavior. Rather, they violate principles of professional ethics that should be part of her professional preparation. If professional ethics concerns, "those norms, values, and principles that should govern the professional conduct of teacher..." (Strike & Ternasky, p. 2), Irma flunks this part of her training. her behavior violates the most basic principle of the NEA's Code of Ethics of the Education Profession (NEA, 2003)--Irma is not foundationally committed to her students. A teacher's first moral obligation is to provide excellent instruction. Teachers with a high level of moral professionalism have a deep obligation to help students learn. According to Wynne (1995), teachers with that sense of obligation demonstrate their moral professionalism by: * coming to work regularly and on time;
* being well informed about their student-matter;
* planning and conducting classes with care;
* regularly reviewing and updating instructional practices;
* cooperating with, or if necessary, confronting parents of underachieving students; * cooperating with colleagues and observing school policies so the whole institution works effectively; * tactfully, bur firmly criticizing unsatisfactory school policies and proposing constructive improvement. Though codes of ethics may not have played a significant role in teacher preparation programs in the past, (Strike & Ternasky, p.3), professional ethical dispositions of teachers must now be addressed as part of the National Council for Accreditation of...
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