How to Teach with Integrity

nicadez; a teacher's idea

Imagine you send a group of students on to the next grade level. You have tried your best to prepare them especially since you have had them for a year. You have watched them blossom, whether it is a small measure of growth or a mammoth leap forward. You have communicated every aspect of their learning with their parents. You send them forward with your blessings and with great anticipation for the successes to come. Very early into the new level things do not seem to be working out for most of them. What? What is going on? This isn’t what you expected, it most certainly isn’t what anybody expected and there isn’t a single reason to surface other than you were disingenuous in your communication with parents. You deliberately painted a grand picture of success and masked an entire class of students' true performance, for what?.... they could not say. Wow! Is that the only reason to account for a whole class performing badly? 

This scenario isn’t all that different from what is happening between class levels today.  For a myriad of reasons a child's performance can change. The sad thing is, many teachers don't want to take responsibility when the reason points to their own professional practice. I understand that parents should be accountable for the performance of their students in many aspects. I also understand why there might be some truth, in isolated cases, to the idea of teacher malpractice - some teachers have ego issues. There has to be integrity in practice, regardless of personal ambition.

Every teacher may have his or her own way of teaching, and I am advocating for integrity in teaching and dealing with parents. Even to conjure this notion of dishonesty is simply removing attention from your own responsibility to students. Everyone has his or her own style; however, when the class becomes a frenzy of a high number of failures, disenchanted parents and forlorn little faces- the line needs to be drawn.

How does one teach with integrity you might ask. The answer is very simple. Do what you say you are going to do. Plan and work the plan. Check and recheck student learning. Communicate all aspects of learning to their parents so that they are kept abreast of all scenarios. Make your classroom a hub of activity and a space where they can act or react in a safe and non-threatening environment. Your students must be able to talk to you when they understand or don't understand something. They must be able to ask you a question without being silenced simply because want them silent. Essentially, you must give them an opportunity to have shareable moments with you that facilitate learning.

I'll conclude by saying that those of us who teach with integrity take full responsibility for the failures and successes of our students. We revel in our children's successes and lament over their failures. We reflect. We revamp. We take time to make the necessary changes and communicate every aspect with our parents and our students so that learning becomes a shared experience.

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