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Teachers help students learn the academic basics, but they also teach valuable life lessons by setting a positive example. As role models, teachers must follow a professional code of ethics often spelled out by their state's department of education. This ensures that students receive a fair, honest and uncompromising education. A professional code of ethics outlines teachers' main responsibilities to their students and defines their role in students' lives. Above all, teachers must demonstrate integrity, impartiality and ethical behavior in the classroom -- and in their conduct with parents and coworkers.
Students Matter Most
Teachers must model strong character traits, such as perseverance, honesty, respect, lawfulness, patience, fairness, responsibility and unity. As a teacher, you must treat every student with kindness, equality and respect, without showing favoritism, prejudice or partiality. According to the National Education Association's code of ethics for teachers, it's your job to respect varying points of view; protect students from physical or emotional harm; and encourage participation from all students. You must maintain confidentiality unless a situation warrants involvement from parents, school administration or law enforcement, and never use relationships with students for personal gain.
Committment to the Job
Teachers must wholly commit to the teaching profession. Your classroom should promote safety, security and acceptance, always avoiding any form of bullying, hostility, dishonesty, neglect or offensive conduct. You must accurately describe your qualifications, credentials and licenses to school boards or principals who seek to hire you. You must also fulfill all contracts; obey school policies; and account for all funds and resources at your disposal. It's your responsibility to design lesson plans to meet state standards and create a well-rounded education plan that appeals to a wide range of learners.
A professional code of conduct demands attentiveness to continuing education requirements and career development. You must research new teaching methods, attend classes to maintain your certifications, consult colleagues for professional advice, participate in curriculum improvements and stay up to date on technical advancements for the classroom. It's your duty to ensure that your teaching methods are fresh, relevant and comprehensive. Teachers must engage in educational research to continuously improve their teaching strategies.
Healthy Relationships Top the List
In addition to fostering healthy relationships with students, teachers must build strong relationships with parents, school staff, colleagues in the community, guidance counselors and administrators. You must never discuss private information about colleagues unless disclosure is required by law. Always avoid gossip, including false or mean-spirited comments about coworkers, according to the NEA. Part of the code of ethics requires you to cooperate with fellow teachers, parents and administrators to create an atmosphere that's conducive to learning. You might be called upon to train student teachers as they prepare to serve as educators, so a positive attitude and a team-centered mindset can make all the difference.
- Association of American Educators: Code of Ethics for Educators
- National Education Association: Code of Ethics
- Florida Department of Education: Code of Ethics and Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida
- California Teachers Association: Code of Ethics
- New York State Education Department: New York State Code of Ethics for Educators
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.