One Spark; Ethics In Education How One Can Change Many

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By: Melissa Lanning

Ethics, Morals, Ideals, Values, everyone has them and each is different.  They stem from our childhood, experiences, and what we have been taught, but how do they apply to Education?  Ethics in Education are how we treat our students and what we envision for their future.  Simply, because their future is our future.  During our class we learned about identifying culture and differences in order to overcome obstacles in teaching.  Ethics is the art of taking what we have learned about our students and using that information to make them succeed.  Using their autobiographical narratives we can have insight into our student’s lives and experiences that in turn guide our interactions with them.  I was intrigued by this subject after watching the dynamic coffee talk about it.  Some of the things that cemented themselves in my brain were that “We have a moral obligation to provide everything we can” to our students.  Also, that it is my responsibility is to discover if the students are comprehending the information and to make accommodations to ensure that they are.  The most important thing I heard is what resonated with me and truly summed up my philosophy was “a teacher must say ‘This is what I want to do.  No matter what.'”  This is what I feel wholeheartedly that as a teacher no matter what I want my students to succeed, my accomplishments mean nothing, it is only through them that I know I have accomplished my goals.


Lofty goals, I know.  So how do I intend on bringing this star studded dream to my classroom?  First by learning about my students.  I must learn their past to help them reach their future.  What kind of home-life do they have?  What do they want to learn?  What do they want to be?  How can I help them achieve these goals?  In my classroom I want to create an atmosphere of acceptance, that everyone is equal and has something to contribute to learning.  I will do this by using peer grouping projects where I will match students with different strengths with each other so that they can have opportunities to shine.  I will also create a tangible visual that students can see what makes them valuable.  I will also incorporate my own experiences.  I will be the kind of teacher that students know will always be available and will treat all students equally.

In my research I came across an article that listed the eight principals of Ethical Leadership in Education.  Here are the eight;

  1. Personal Courage
  2. Public Interest Ahead of Self
  3. Self Control
  4. Task and Employee Centeredness – drawing from the strengths of your team
  5. Recognizing Talent
  6. Requiring High Ethics From Everyone
  7. Sensitivity and Understanding
  8. Inclusiveness

Another article explains that we should not fall into the misunderstanding that standards solve problems but that rather it is our responsibility to continue to make connections with students.  It also stated that as leaders we should encourage excellence and not just ‘meeting the average’ of testing.  Basically, I believe that an apathetic teacher is worse than an immoral one because the worst thing a person can do is not care.

A link that I highly suggest is one that was mentioned during the coffee talk Three letters from Teddy  This video is amazing, however, I’m warning you have tissues.  Seriously, it is more emotionally moving than those Sara McLaughlin starving animals commercials.


Some other great ideas to help kids deal with today’s issues and ethics in the classroom come from this article

My personal perspective: just for you to read if you want feel free to skip if you want it’s just me rambling about some of my experiences with ethics.

I want to tell you a little about me and my experience.  I am known as the patron saint of naughty kids.  When I first started the teaching program as an undergraduate I chose teaching because I never had that teacher who took an interest in me.  I wanted to be that person for someone, I wanted to make a difference.  When I started as a para I found myself placed into special education, and not just any special education, I had the behavioral kids.  I quickly found that I had a great rapport with the students and the other staff took notice.  Not long after starting I was asked to supervise detention.  It became apparent that I attracted a certain kind of student.  The ‘naughty’ ones.  I could not walk down the hall without the staff telling me about what one of ‘my kids’ did.  As the staff began to identify these students as ‘my kids’ the students themselves started calling themselves my kids.  Soon I had over fifty ‘kids’.

Soon I was being placed into the most chaotic classrooms ‘to bring order’.  I began to watch these students that other teachers identified as ‘trouble’ bloom and were some of the most incredible students I have ever met.  It didn’t take long before not only the ‘trouble’ kids were calling themselves my children but also a lot of the ‘good’ kids.  Why?  I wasn’t nice.  I wasn’t helping them any more than anyone else. So why did students ask to be in my groups?  It’s simple.  They respected me because I respected them.  I treated them all the same no matter their background, what others thought of them, or what they had or had not accomplished.  They knew no matter what I would be there for them.  Now I’m not telling this because I want to pat myself on the back.  No, I wanted to tell this because I feel this is how all students feel. They all want to be seen, not by what they do but by who they are and that is our jobs as teachers.  To see them for who they are and who they want to be not by their labels.  My joy came from seeing them succeed and that is what I will base my ethics on, seeing them succeed, not by what I do for them but by what they do for themselves when given the opportunity.

This is my favorite trophy what I look at every morning to remind myself why I do what I do these were given to me by two of my ‘kids’.  IMG_1435



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