Week 7: Reflection Paper on Ethical Dilemma

Week 7: Reflection Paper on Ethical Dilemma

For this I will be sharing a paper I wrote describing an ethical dilemma that many teachers will inevitably face. My presentation was done with the same team who I also held our Morning Meeting with and the conversation on appropriate teacher behaviors was further discussed. The paper will inform you of what the dilemma is, how FEAPS plays a role in my rationale and how challenging defining ethics can be. While you may be typing in the term “ethics” to Google to prove me otherwise; I will explain. Defining ethics broadly is one thing but applying it circumstantially in an environment with multiple ages, genders, religions, nationalities, beliefs, etc. is completely different. Please review my paper below which provides a scenario in which proves this troubling and challenging dilemma.

Educators are prone to ethical dilemmas in the classroom. One likely cause contributing to these ethical binds would be the nature of diverse classroom populations. Political, religious, cultural and gender-based differences (among numerous others) can lead to much debate about appropriate teacher behaviors. Typically, because with each group and individual comes a unique view and attitude towards everything and I use the word everything in the most literal sense. As a result of these differences having systems in place such as FEAPS can protect teachers and students.

The Florida Educator Accomplished Practices, commonly referred to as FEAPs, provides a set of guidelines and standards that identify and promote instructional practices which promote effective teaching in the classroom (fldoe.com). This paper will review and discuss one of the  Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida. Per the fldoe.org (2014) number 3e states, “Obligation to the student requires that the individual: Shall not intentionally expose a student to unnecessary embarrassment or disparagement”. Whether the result of punishment or regular teacher behavior FEAPS is in place to encourage emotional and physical safety to encourage environments to be a secure place for learning and participation.

An article from the National Education Association, Shut-up and Other No-No’s (Jehlen, 2008) was presented and provided short tips from teachers on how to practice ethical behaviors.  During the discussion several differences were made by the audience with varying degrees of what constitutes appropriate teacher behaviors. While no one voiced that unnecessary embarrassment of students was acceptable a few suggestions were made in which fell in to a grey area of appropriateness. For example, one suggestion was made regarding a hypothetical situation in which one student was distracted and not engaged in a class reading out of a literature book. Knowing he was not following the material, a preservice teacher thought it would be a good idea to call on the student to read next. A few interjections were made discussing how that might embarrass the student. On one hand, it could make the student aware that they were not paying attention. On the other hand, it could embarrass him and possibly result in prolonging the time learning is not taking place by other laughing and the teacher reestablishing order.

It is important to note that the suggestion made by the preservice teacher did not come from a malicious intent to embarrass the student. FEAPS number 3e includes the term intentionally in its wording to differentiate the source of harm. Of course, another debate includes how to determine if the action(s) were taken with intent or not but we will save that for another paper. The proposed solution of “calling the student out” has been practiced in classrooms and can come across as a logical approach to refocus attention to the material. This is how easily an educator can find themselves in an ethical bind. A violation of ethics does not always have to come with an intent to harm or to embarrass a student. A violation of ethics can easily occur as a result of differences in interpreting actions and results. In the above scenario, one might interpret the suggested action as an effective punishment and another as potentially harmful choice. The challenge for every teacher will be in deciphering how their behaviors and actions will be decoded and interpreted by the students, parents and administrators.

With so many differences in opinion, how can a teacher ensure that he/she does not violate ethical practices as required in FEAPS? A few suggestions would be to practice reflective behaviors, understand varying dispositions and use proactive thinking over reactive actions. Understanding that one approach might be right for some students or classes but not right for all can also make a difference. As educators it is important to realize that every action taken can be modeled by students and therefore should be conduct in a manner one would like to see in students.

References

Code of Ethics and Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida. Retrieved from http://www.fldoe.org/edstandards/code_of_ethics.asp

Jehlen, A. (2008). ‘Shut up!’ and other no-nos. Retrieved from

http://www.nea.org/home/10996.htm

Thank you for reviewing my paper. As I stated above what is important is to be reflective of ones own beliefs and respectful to others. If you live your life or in this case practice your profession in such a manner you will surely be able to work through dilemmas dealing with ethics.

Well until next week,

Erica

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