Standard 9

Demonstrates an awareness of and commitment to ethical and legal responsibilities of a teacher.

Artifacts: 

Critical Incident on Inclusion

Certificate from 203 Legal and Ethical Issues Workshop

Write-up of biting incident

Rationale: 

It is the teacher’s ethical responsibility to protect students from potentially embarrassing or discouraging situations within the classroom. In my education 203 Critical Incident, I evaluate Karen Gallas’ assertion that social interactions are “based on a shared understandings of the subject matter” through my cooperating teacher’s recess period for his second and third grade students. For my critical incidents, I ethnographically documented the actions and words of my subject, “Larry,” a third grade student at Williams-Cone Elementary School, to understand whether his school adequately addressed his social and academic needs. My students typically spent their recess outdoors, but due to the cold rain, were kept in my cooperating teacher’s room to play with toys. During this period, I played a board game with some of the other students, while observing Larry to get a sense of his interactions with his peers. Larry, typically a very popular and engaging student, isolated himself from his classmates, many of whom had brought their own expensive toys to play with in anticipation of the rain. I argue that Larry was at his most “socially active when he felt comfortable in his capabilities and talents”; Larry entered this social situation (recess) at a disadvantage, since his family, new to the Topsham area and unable to find work, could not afford any new toys.

According to the National Education Association, it is the teacher’s ethical responsibility to “not intentionally expose students to embarrassment or disparagement.” I believe that Larry was exposed to a potentially embarrassing situation that day in class, since he felt unable to interact equally with many of his peers. In my student- teaching, I have made a concerted effort to eliminate these kinds of situations throughout my classroom. Although I allow my students to use their phones at the end of the day to call their parents, I vigilantly restrict cell phone use completely during the rest of the day and limit iPad use for academic purposes, only. The students with Internet access at home and social media tend to unintentionally exclude other students unfamiliar with Facebook, SnapChat, online games, etc. In the future, students will enter my class with wildly varying economic and social backgrounds, so I must work hard to maintain an environment that honors everyone’s dignity.

Prior to my field placement for Education 203: Educating All Students, I completed a workshop on legal and ethical issues in education. The workshop, led by Jen Ruid, a social worker at Lewsiton Highschool and Neera Harmon, a guidance counselor in Augsta, provided specific reactions to potential classroom-related affairs. Our workshop facilitators instructed us on when to keep information confidential or report it to our superiors, while also indicating to us how to appropriately engage in physical contact with our students. I have used information from this workshop during my teaching. During a conversation in the hallways right before class, one of my seventh grade students at Bath Middle School told me that a burn on her right arm had been put there by her mother’s attempts to punish her by putting out a cigarette on her skin. Although she asked me to not tell anyone, I fulfilled my ethical and legal responsibility by reporting this information to our school’s guidance counselor. Also, since my middle school students often struggle to understand physical boundaries, I had to decline slow-dancing with my students multiple times during a dance that I recently hosted. Since our workshop’s instructor stressed to us the importance of avoiding physical contact with our students, my actions at the dance demonstrate my awareness of the legal and ethical responsibilities of a teacher.

It is my ethical and legal responsibility to create a safe environment for learning. During my write up for an incident of physical violence outside my classroom at Bath Middle School, I demonstrate my understanding of Standard Nine by documenting the incident for my superiors and taking steps to protect my learners from violent behavior. While teaching middle school humanities earlier this semester, one of my students went to her locker to retrieve a notebook for her to compete her work into. She returned to my classroom with a bite mark on her hand that resulted from an argument with another student who had placed his lock onto her locker. To protect my students from a potentially dangerous situation, I removed the biting student from the classroom, and told the bitten student to wash her hand with disinfectant to minimize the the likelihood of an infection. I also worked with my mentoring teacher to document this incident to assist the administration with any legal issues resulting from the situation, while clarifying what happened for the benefit of both students’ parents.

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