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Educator Responsibility

If I were an administrator, I would explain the balance between the influence of moral standards and character, and freedom of expression as individuals very carefully. I would let them know that while they are encouraged to utilize their own moral standards as examples for their students to follow, they should not force their own beliefs onto their students. So many students these days are brought up without a solid moral example to follow. They need to have people in their lives to provide a solid foundation for moral and ethical behavior, and that’s where we, as teachers, can fill in the gap.

One thing I learned this week is that teachers in general have a poor understanding of educational laws. I’m sure this is true, partly because the laws seem to be inconsistent, and they are changing all the time. It seems that teachers are right to be cautious when sharing their own moral beliefs with students. Even though many students lack moral fiber, teachers should not push their own beliefs onto their students in case the child’s rights are violated.

I think the line falls between setting a good moral example and pushing our own beliefs onto another person. Although we may think we know the right way to behave in each situation, out students may feel violated if we force them to conform to our set of beliefs. Students have the right to develop their own moral beliefs. As teachers, we can model the way we would like our students to behave, and we can provide an example of the type of character we’d like to see them develop, but ultimately, it is up to each person to develop their own path. We can hope that they follow the example we set for them, but we overstep our boundaries if we try to force or coerce them into following what we believe is right.

I’m still new to this business of being a teacher, and I haven’t encountered any situations where my own beliefs have come into conflict with my actions in the classroom. However, I can think of one situation where a teacher at my school let her personal life get in the way of her professional actions. This teacher let her personal feelings about a student’s ability affect the way she taught, or rather didn’t teach this student. She felt the student was incapable of learning the current lessons, but instead of asking for help in teaching the student or asking someone to help the student master the lesson, she simply ignored the situation, and then sent the student home with a failing grade on the assignment.

The student was frustrated and humiliated. This teacher ignored both her own responsibilities as a teacher and ignored the student’s right to learn. Regardless of her beliefs about the student’s capabilities, she should have done more to try to find ways to help the student instead of simply dismissing his needs. Her actions have not yet created a lawsuit, but she does face disciplinary action because she did not meet her responsibilities in teaching the child.