KEY ELEMENTS OF PROFESSIONALISM AND ETHICS The profession of teaching encompasses many of the fine qualities we can expect of any other professional practice. According to Preston (1993) the one essential feature of professionalism is the exercise of complex high level judgements, and in relation to teaching these “informed judgements required for the effective teaching of all students in all situations…” being an “…essential ingredient of teacher professionalism. “
In consideration of this resonating theme of professionalism and its ethical implications, teachers must possess a combination of many qualities beginning with a strong academic background and broad base of knowledge. In accordance to the National Framework for Professional Standards for Teaching (2003) it is the knowledge of students, curriculum, subject matter, pedagogy, education ??? related legislation and the specific teaching context that is the foundation on effective teaching , and a firm base on which to form well educated judgements.
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Other expected qualities precipitating the elements of professionalism with regards to teaching are a high level of cognitive skills and social capabilities teamed with sophisticated personal qualities as pinpointed by Marsh (2008) such as sensitivity, compassion, reflective and innovative thinking and commitment and dedication to the job. These aid to facilitate such desired ethical attributes as respect, caring, integrity, diligence and open communication as outlined by Groundwater-Smith (2009), the relationship of which is reinforced by Whitton (2009 p. 7) in defining professionalism in teaching as being “…dependant of correct standards with the right conduct or practice”. As a new student in a foreign country my vocabulary consisted of only a handful of English words. I was late to class one morning as my father had slept in due to a late night at work. When confronted by my teacher in front of the class as to why I was late I could only find the words ‘my father couldn’t wake up’.
Her reaction to this was one of disbelief, demanding my explanation of how my father was different to any other person and why he couldn’t wake up. Of course I could do nothing but cry in frustration at her inability to understand and my inability to be understood, in further detriment of my already waning self esteem. This teachers’ lack of knowledge of a different culture and understanding of my situation led her to make an error in professional judgement, and hence put her standard of conduct and professionalism into question.
This illustrates the importance of possessing all the qualities pertaining to teacher professionalism and ethics and the regard in which judgments should be made in any given situation. The interpretation of the professional being defined by not only academic and technical merits, but that of social obligation and responsibility in the judgement process of teaching is in my opinion the essence of professionalism and ethics within this discipline. References Preston, B. (1993). Teacher professionalism: implications for teachers, teacher educators and democratic schooling.
Independent Education 23(4), 4-12 Marsh, C. (2008). Becoming a teacher (4th Ed. ). French’s Forest: Pearson. p. 291 Groundwater-Smith, S. et al (2009). Teaching Challenges and Dilemmas (3rd Ed. ). Behaving Ethically Whitton, D. et al (2009). Learning for Teaching Teaching for Learning (1st Ed. ). Professionalism in Teaching Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs. (2003) A National Framework For Professional Standards For Teaching, November 2003. Carlton South: Curriculum Corporation