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The Ethical Educator: Professional Educator Discussion and Reflection

Caleb Ricks

ITL 600

National University

The Ethical Educator: Professional Educator Discussion and Reflection

Reflecting upon my own educational philosophy has allowed me to delve deeper into my

own biases and goals regarding education. The educator’s role in the classroom is not only

affected by policies and standards, but also by personal beliefs, prejudices, biases, and goals. A

teacher’s opinion regarding a topic can paint a biased picture for his or her students, and for this

reason, understanding one’s personal biases is paramount. For this assignment, I was paired with

my classmate Jason Miranda, and through our discussion, we both became aware of our implicit

and explicit biases that may manifest in the classroom. Like me, Jason values diversity and hopes

to introduce literature in the classroom that explores various identities, cultures, and traditions.

Jason also notes that he is biased against apathetic students but understands that he can overcome

this bias by communicating with the student to understand what is truly hindering this student’s

progress. His bias also extends to apathetic parents who fail to actively participate in their child’s

education. Jason believes it will be difficult for him to communicate honestly and openly with

these types of parents. His goals, like mine, include professional growth that improves one’s

ability to teach and increase student performance. Through my personal reflection on my

educational philosophy and through discussing my ideas with Jason, I am able to identify

multiple biases that I hope to overcome and multiple professional goals I hope to achieve.

Like any educator, I exhibit both explicit and implicit biases that will affect my teaching

practices in the classroom. These biases will not only affect the ways I teach, but also the ways I

address my students and colleagues. According to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing

(2016, p. 13), it is imperative that educators “recognize their own values and implicit and explicit

biases, the ways in which these values and implicit and explicit biases may positively and

negatively affect teaching and learning.” The Association of American Educators (2018) also

recognizes the impact of biases in the classroom and states, “The professional educator

endeavors to present facts without distortion, bias, or personal prejudice.” As this is a Teaching

Performance Expectation (TPE) for Developing as a Professional Educator, it is essential that I

both identify my biases and assess the ways in which these biases will impact my classroom.

One bias I need to be aware of is labeling students who do not participate as apathetic. There is a

plethora of reasons for a lack of student participation, ranging from language barriers to fear of

speaking before one’s peers. Because I am aware that I had this bias against my peers when I

myself was a student, I need to make sure that as an educator I do not act on this bias. For this

reason, I will not call upon students who actively attempt not to be chosen to answer questions in

the classroom. Instead, I will ask for volunteers by having my students raise their hands. It is my

hope that I will understand that student participation can exist in various forms, and it is not fair

to judge a student’s participation by only assessing his or her willingness to read to the class,

publicly answer questions, or complete exercises on the white board. By asking for student

volunteers rather that calling upon students who may not wish to participate before the class, I

hope to overcome this bias and create a safe learning environment in the classroom.

In line with the idea of acknowledging bias so that I may create a safe learning

environment, I am extremely bias against those who exhibit bully-like behavior. Because I have

both witnessed bullying and have been a victim of bullying, I will have a zero-tolerance policy in

my classroom. However, it is important that I do not let my personal judgement against bullying

cloud my assessment of the student practicing this behavior. When a student bullies another

student, it is essential that I align with the code as described by the Association of American

Educators (2018) that illustrates, “The professional educator deals considerately and justly with

each student, and seeks to resolve problems, including discipline, according to law and school

policy.” As an educator, I cannot allow my disciplining of a student for his or her behavior affect

the ways in which I engage with the student or how I grade the student after discipline has been

given. To do so would defy the TPE that states all educators should “exhibit positive dispositions

of caring, support, acceptance, and fairness toward all students” (Commission on Teaching

Credentialing, 2016, p.13). Though I would never explicitly treat a student unfairly, I need to be

aware that I may implicitly be biased against this student. To avoid this, I will ensure to include

rubrics with every assignment so that I may grade as fairly as possible and provide proof for both

myself and the student that I did not grade in line with my bias. Furthermore, I will ensure that I

follow the discipline code as outlined by the school in which I am teaching. This will allow me

to avoid bringing in my own values and personal biases when disciplining a student for bullying

behavior. By adhering to a grading rubric and the school’s penal code, I hope to create a fair and

safe learning environment as outlined by both the Association of American Educators (2018) and

the Commission on Teaching Credentialing (2016).

As an educator, I want to celebrate and value diversity in my classroom. I believe that it

is essential for students to understand backgrounds, cultures, and upbringings different from their

own, and I hope to open students’ eyes to the beauty of diversity. In fact, I greatly agree with the

Code of Ethics for Educators that explains, “The professional educator endeavors to understand

and respect the values and traditions of the diverse cultures represented in the community and in

his or her classroom” (Association of American Educators, 2018). I will hold both myself and

my students accountable to respect the various cultures in my classroom. To do this, I hope to


assign writing assignments in my classroom that allow the students to both explore and share

their individual and cultural backgrounds with their peers. I will also use texts that both celebrate

and explore different cultures and traditions so that my classroom does not narrow its cultural

lens. Furthermore, during collaborative work, I plan to assign the groups myself rather than have

the students choose their own groups. As a student, I remember some of my peers not being

chosen due to various reasons, and I will eliminate this experience in my classroom. I will ensure

that all of my students feel welcomed and included in the classroom. Lastly, I want to value my

students’ cultures by honoring and understanding the various reasons why certain students may

miss class. I understand that certain cultures and religions have holidays during the regular

school week, and I will be understanding of this and adjust assignment due dates respectively.

The key to celebrating diversity is communication, and in my classroom, I hope to value

diversity by both exposing myself to it as an educator and exposing my students to it as evolving,

growing individuals.

I believe the best ways for me as an educator to exhibit caring, support, acceptance, and/

or fairness toward all students and families, as well as towards my colleagues, will require me to

adhere to the Code of Ethics established by the Association of American Educators (2018). The

Code of Ethics provides clear and concise ways in which an educator can act with fairness,

integrity, and caring. One of the ways in which I will act with professionalism and fairness is by

following the code that states, “The professional educator does not reveal confidential

information concerning students, unless required by law” (Association of American Educators,

2018). This, I believe, is one of the most commonly broken rules by educators. My parents,

though excellent educators, are perfect examples of how this code can be defied. Growing up,

my parents would often discuss their students with me, including their students’ backgrounds,

failures in the classroom, and personal lives. At the time, I did not realize how such a discussion

could be unethical, but I now see how damaging this conversation was. In the same way it is

unethical for a therapist to discuss his/her patients with others, an educator should not discuss

his/her students with others. Had the student been part of the conversation between my parents

and me, I know this student would be mortified as my father revealed how this student often fails

quizzes in class, etc. Talk such as this only amounts to gossip, and it reveals personal and

sensitive information about the student that can be disparaging. It is unnecessary for those who

are not part of the classroom to be privy to such information, and because this discussion could

always find its way back to the student in detrimental circumstances, I refuse to partake in such

conversations. Discussing students’ confidential information is both unethical and

unprofessional, and I will avoid this as best I can.

As an educator, I also plan to both act with fairness towards my colleagues. In the same

way an educator should not discuss students’ confidential information, educators should not

reveal to their students confidential information or disparaging comments regarding their

colleagues. This idea aligns with the Code of Ethics which clarifies, “The professional educator

does not reveal confidential information concerning colleagues unless required by law” and “The

professional educator does not willfully make false statements about a colleague” (Association of

American Educators, 2018). I had direct experience with a teacher who disregarded this code and

mocked his colleague before my entire class. During a rant about his fellow teachers, my

Economics teacher, in a disparaging tone, referred to my and my peers’ AP Calculus teacher as

“the girl with a thousand husbands.” Half of my class had the same AP Calculus teacher and my

peers laughed at my Economics teacher’s comment, though I did not. I realized how unethical,

unprofessional, and derogatory this teacher’s comments were. For the rest of the semester, my

peers constantly cited my Economics teacher’s remarks, and this painted for them a new picture

of my Calculus teacher. They no longer took her seriously as a professional educator in the

classroom and made comments behind her back. Interestingly enough, my Calculus teacher was

and is a family friend of mine, and she is not a girl (she is in her forties) and she has not had a

thousand husbands (she remarried once). This information aside, it was utterly unprofessional

and unethical to do what my Economics teacher did. To share such disparaging comments about

one’s colleagues is to make illegitimate the work one’s colleagues do in the classroom. As a

future educator, I refuse to make such remarks in front of a captive audience in the form of my

students. If I have such opinions, though I doubt I will, I will keep them to myself. I will act with

empathy, fairness, and professionalism towards my fellow teachers so that I can support them as

professional educators and so that I can support their hard work and dedication in the classroom.

As an educator who will constantly strive to improve my practice, the two professional

goals I set for myself align with the Teaching Performance Expectations set by the Commission

on Teaching Credentialing: continuing professional growth and reflecting on my own teaching to

improve student learning (2016, p. 13). To continue my growth and progress as an educator, I

plan to be open to constructive criticism and feedback from my colleagues. I will be attentive

during staff meetings, open to new instruction introduced through Common Core, and able to

adapt my lesson plans every academic year. I will continue to research novel ways to teach

writing and will find new and innovative ways to introduce various texts in the classroom. I will

be open to observation feedback through collaboration with my peers. I also plan to attend

seminars and conferences to further my growth as an educator. To improve student learning, I

will be open to the data that my students produce through grades, test scores, and oral/written

feedback. I want to have open communication with my students regarding what they do and do

not enjoy, what they believe helps them and what they believe does not. I want to constantly find

ways to implement technology in the classroom as I believe that this is one of the best ways to

further student learning. By striving for these two goals, I hope to continue my growth as an

educator and continue to better my students’ learning.

As an educator, I need to be aware of both my implicit and explicit biases and how they

will affect my instruction in the classroom. The best way for me to overcome these biases is to

follow the guidelines established by the Commission on Teaching Credentialing (2016) and by

the Association of American Educators (2018). Following the guidance of these two

organizations can also allow me to express my values of diversity, safety, acceptance, and

communication in the classroom. Furthermore, following these codes will allow me to act

professionally with both my students and my colleagues in regard to discipline, feedback, and

growth. As both these organizations suggest, I will strive to grow my practice as an instructor

and never stop learning both inside and outside the classroom. With a better understanding of

how I can implement the TPEs (Commission on Teaching Credentialing, 2016) and the Code of

Ethics for Educators (Association of American Educators, 2018) in my classroom, I hope to be

an ethical educator that forever continues to grow in his profession. 



Association of American Educators. (2018). Code of ethics for educators. Retrieved from https://

Commission on Teacher Credentialing. (2016). California teaching performance expectations.

Retrieved from