A code of conduct for teachers is essentially a set of recommended practices and rules of behavior that outline the range of expected ethical behaviors in the classroom. Teachers who want to make their classrooms a healthy, safe, and supportive environment for learning can benefit from developing and maintaining a code of conduct for teachers. A code of conduct for teachers is not a legally binding document, but it is an easy way for teachers to create a community of support that will enable them to address issues as they arise. Furthermore, by creating a code of conduct for teachers, educators will be able to provide a living example of how they handle situations that may occur in the classroom.
A code of conduct for teachers is created through an organization called the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), which is a professional organization that sets standards for mathematics. The purpose of the group is to promote quality education, and the practices that constitute a positive education practice. The standards that the group wishes to achieve are determined by the National Association of School Psychologists. These standards are used by other organizations that are committed to improving quality education, such as the Council for Higher Education.
One of the most important parts of the code of conduct for teachers is the statement of responsibility, or statement of the undertaking, which explains the nature of the undertaking, and identifies the teacher as being responsible for the specific consequences of his or her decisions. The next section addresses the consequences that may result from a failure to uphold the undertaking. This section is meant to remind teachers of their accountability to the school. It is intended to reinforce the concept of professional responsibility, which is one of the hallmarks of a professional educator. Conduct that upholds professional responsibility is described as consistent and firm conduct, exhibiting the ability to exercise judgment in a reasonable manner and the ability to meet the needs and expectations of others.
The next section provides examples of situations where teachers might demonstrate the ability to demonstrate professional competence. Examples include the application of rules of study and methods, the application of principles of teaching, providing guidance to students in their academic work, encouraging student interaction, and developing student skills such as problem solving. It goes on to list examples of situations in which the application of these principles could lead to the creation of a positive learning environment, such as the placement of student teachers with children from different backgrounds and skills sets. The reference to planning is intended to assist you in your role as a teacher and parent, and to help you understand the importance of planning and coordinating with other teachers and adults.
The final part of the code of conduct for teachers addresses the identification of responsibility. It discusses how the obligations of teachers and colleagues relate to the development of the educational environment and the promotion of academic standards. It then identifies the particular practices that teachers should observe in order to ensure that this environment is one that promotes learning and socialization. Particular reference is made to the importance of setting reasonable and achievable goals, the responsibility of teachers to provide guidance and to facilitate or supervise the learning of colleagues, and the contribution that others can make to the promotion of these aims. In addition, a recommended procedure is included which deals with the appraisal of teachers’ performance. Recommendations are displayed next to the name of the teacher making the recommendation, helping you recognize good performers.
The second section of the code addresses the establishment of educational objectives and includes detailed discussion of the content standards, the assessment of these standards, and the formulation of practical instructional goals. A review is made of the relevant instructional objectives and strategies and the relative priority of the various objectives. Finally, the relationship between the objectives and various aspects of the environment is described. As recommended by the United States Department of Education, the instruction manual for elementary and secondary public schools should include at least the following six objectives:
In order for you to meet the objectives set out in the standards, you need to be competent in knowledge and skill areas relevant to the subject matter you teach. Teachers must be qualified to teach and must be able to demonstrate professional competence. The most important quality of all is to have regard for the needs of students, both in terms of ability and attitudes. This is what separates persons who are genuinely skilled in their subject from those who are not.
The third chapter of the code addresses the promotion and maintenance of a positive attitude. It is important for teachers to understand that the teaching profession involves much more than making a living. Teachers also need time to spend with colleagues and helping students to grow and learn. This part of the manual helps teachers to appreciate the value of professional support, including encouragement and support from colleagues.