[N.B.: The Model Code of Ethics for Educators is reproduced below with the kind consent of the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC), which has been spearheading the initiative to draft and promote the adoption of a national code of ethics for the teaching profession. I am proud to be a small part of this ongoing effort.]
© NASDTEC June 2015 (Original); October 2022 (Revised)
Material on this site has been created by a national panel of experts under the auspices of NASDTEC. Permission is hereby granted to staff in state and local educational agencies and in educational institutions to reproduce the Model Code of Ethics and the supporting documentation provided by NASDTEC for purposes of advising, discussion, and adoption and/or adaption of the Model Code of Ethics into law or regulations. No commercial use or further distribution is permitted without written permission from NASDTEC. Any use is conditioned on attribution to NASDTEC.
PRINCIPLE I: RESPONSIBILITY TO THE PROFESSION
THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR KNOWS TRUST IN THE PROFESSION DEPENDS UPON A LEVEL OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY THAT MAY BE HIGHER THAN THE MINIMAL STANDARD OF POLICY AND LAW. THIS RESPONSIBILITY ENTAILS HOLDING ONESELF AND OTHER EDUCATORS TO THE SAME ETHICAL STANDARDS.
A. THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR DEMONSTRATES RESPONSIBILITY TO ONESELF AND THE PROFESSION BY:
- Holding oneself responsible to Model Code of Ethics for Educators (MCEE) and other recognized professional ethics standards;
- Knowing and upholding the procedures, policies and laws relevant to professional practice regardless of personal views;
- Monitoring and maintaining sound mental, physical and emotional health necessary to perform duties and services of any professional assignment and taking appropriate measures when personal or health-related issues may interfere with work-related duties;
- Refraining from using one’s position for personal gain and avoiding the appearance of impropriety;
- Taking responsibility and credit only for work actually performed or produced, and acknowledging the work and contributions made by others; and
- Recognizing a lack of knowledge or understanding of the MCEE is not, in itself, a defense of unprofessional conduct.
B. THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR FULFILLS THE OBLIGATION TO ADDRESS AND ATTEMPT TO RESOLVE ETHICAL ISSUES BY:
- Identifying and taking reasonable steps to resolve conflicts between the MCEE and the implicit or explicit demands of a person or organization;
- Maintaining fidelity to the MCEE by taking proactive steps when having reason to believe that another educator may be approaching or involved in an ethically compromising situation;
- Refraining from discriminating or retaliating against a person on the basis of having made an ethics complaint;
- Refraining from filing or encouraging frivolous ethics complaints solely to harm or retaliate; and
- Cooperating fully and honestly during investigations and proceedings.
C. THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR PROMOTES AND ADVANCES THE PROFESSION WITHIN AND BEYOND THE SCHOOL COMMUNITY BY:
- Engaging in respectful discourse regarding issues that impact the profession;
- Influencing and supporting decisions and actions that positively impact teaching and learning, educational leadership and student services;
- Staying current with ethics guidelines and decisions from professional organizations and other relevant sources;
- Engaging with the greater educational community through professional organizations and associations; and
- Advocating for adequate resources and facilities to ensure equitable opportunities for all members within the learning community.
PRINCIPLE II: RESPONSIBILITY FOR PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCE
THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR IS COMMITTED TO THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF PROFESSIONAL AND ETHICAL PRACTICE.
A. THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR DEMONSTRATES COMMITMENT TO HIGH STANDARDS OF PRACTICE THROUGH:
- Using the MCEE and other ethics codes unique to one’s discipline to guide and frame educational decision-making;
- Incorporating into one’s practice state and national standards, including those specific to one’s discipline;
- Advocating for equitable educational opportunities for all students;
- Accepting the responsibilities, performing duties and providing services corresponding to the area of certification, licensure and/or training of one’s position;
- Reflecting upon and assessing one’s professional skills, knowledge and competency on an ongoing basis; and
- Committing to ongoing professional learning.
B. THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR DEMONSTRATES RESPONSIBLE USE OF DATA, MATERIALS, RESEARCH, AND ASSESSMENT BY:
- Recognizing others’ work by appropriately citing data or materials from published, unpublished or electronic sources when disseminating information;
- Using appropriate assessments for the purposes for which they are intended and for which they have been validated to guide educational decisions;
- Conducting research in an ethical and responsible manner with appropriate permission and supervision;
- Seeking and using evidence, instructional data, research and professional knowledge to inform practice;
- Creating, maintaining, disseminating, storing, retaining and disposing of records and data relating to one’s research and practice, in accordance with, but not limited to, official guidance, policy and laws; and
- Using data, data sources, or findings accurately, reliably and ethically.
C. THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR DEMONSTRATES COMPETENCE BY ACTING IN THE BEST INTEREST OF ALL STUDENTS BY:
- Increasing students’ access to the curriculum, activities and resources in order to provide a quality and equitable educational experience;
- Working to engage the school community to close achievement, opportunity and attainment gaps; and
- Protecting students from any practice that harms or has the reasonable potential to harm.
PRINCIPLE III: RESPONSIBILITY TO STUDENTS
THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR HAS A PRIMARY OBLIGATION TO PROMOTE THE HEALTH, SAFETY AND WELL-BEING OF ALL STUDENTS. THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR TREATS STUDENTS WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT, AND ESTABLISHES AND MAINTAINS APPROPRIATE VERBAL, PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL AND SOCIAL BOUNDARIES.
A. THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR RESPECTS THE RIGHTS AND DIGNITY OF STUDENTS BY:
- Respecting students by taking into account their individual characteristics, including but not limited to age, gender, culture, setting, ability and socioeconomic context.
- Interacting with students with transparency and in appropriate settings;
- Communicating with students in a clear, respectful and culturally sensitive manner;
- Taking into account how appearance and dress can affect one’s interactions and relationships with students;
- Considering the implications of accepting gifts from or giving gifts to students;
- Engaging in physical contact with students only when there is a clearly defined purpose that benefits the student and continually keeps the health, safety and well-being of the student in mind;
- Avoiding multiple relationships with students that might impair objectivity and increase the risk of harm to student well-being or decrease educator effectiveness;
- Acknowledging there are no circumstances that allow for educators to engage in romantic or sexual relationships with students; and
- Considering the ramifications of entering into an adult relationship of any kind with a former student, including but not limited to, any potential harm to the former student, public perception and the possible impact on the educator’s career. The professional educator ensures the adult relationship was not started while the former student was in school.
B. THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR DEMONSTRATES AN ETHIC OF CARE THROUGH:
- Seeking to understand students’ educational, academic, personal and social needs as well as students’ values, beliefs and cultural background;
- Respecting the dignity, worth and uniqueness of each individual student including, but not limited to, actual and perceived gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, civil status, family status, religion, age, disability, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic context and culture; and
- Establishing and maintaining an environment that promotes the emotional, intellectual, physical and sexual safety of all students.
C. THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR MAINTAINS STUDENT TRUST AND CONFIDENTIALITY WHEN INTERACTING WITH STUDENTS IN A DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE MANNER AND WITHIN APPROPRIATE LIMITS BY:
- Respecting the privacy of students and the need to hold in confidence certain forms of student communication, documents or information obtained in the course of professional practice;
- Upholding parents’/guardians’ legal rights, as well as any legal requirements, to reveal information related to legitimate concerns for the well-being of a student; and
- Protecting the confidentiality of student records and releasing personal data in accordance with prescribed state and federal laws and local policies.
THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR PROMOTES APPROPRIATE RELATIONSHIPS AND EFFECTIVE INTERACTIONS WITH MEMBERS OF THE SCHOOL COMMUNITY.
A. THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR PROMOTES APPROPRIATE AND EFFECTIVE RELATIONSHIPS WITH PARENTS/GUARDIANS BY:
- Communicating with parents/guardians in a timely, respectful and culturally sensitive manner that represents the students’ best interests;
- Demonstrating a commitment to equality, equity, diversity and inclusion with parents/guardians;
- Considering the implication of accepting gifts from or giving gifts to parents/guardians; and
- Maintaining appropriate confidentiality with respect to student information disclosed by or to parents/guardians unless required by law.
B. THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR PROMOTES APPROPRIATE AND EFFECTIVE RELATIONSHIPS WITH COLLEAGUES BY:
- Respecting colleagues as fellow professionals and maintaining civility when differences arise;
- Resolving conflicts, whenever possible, privately and respectfully and in accordance with policy;
- Working to ensure a workplace environment that is free from harassment;
- Collaborating with colleagues in a manner that supports academic achievement and related goals that promote the best interests of students;
- Keeping student safety, education, and health paramount by maintaining and sharing educational records appropriately and objectively in accordance with local policies and state and federal laws;
- Enhancing the professional growth and development of new educators by supporting effective field experiences, mentoring or induction activities across the career continuum;
- Ensuring educators who participate as mentors for new educators, cooperating teachers and leadership positions are prepared and supervised to assume these roles; and
- Demonstrating a commitment that educators are assigned to positions in accordance with their educational credentials, preparation and/or training in order to maximize students’ opportunities and achievement.
C. THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR PROMOTES APPROPRIATE AND EFFECTIVE RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE COMMUNITY AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS BY:
- Maintaining the highest professional standards of accuracy, honesty and appropriate disclosure of information when representing the school or district within the community and in public communications;
- Advocating for policies and laws benefitting students and families within the school community; and
- Collaborating with community agencies, organizations and individuals in order to advance students’ best interests.
D. THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR PROMOTES APPROPRIATE AND EFFECTIVE RELATIONSHIPS WITH EMPLOYERS BY:
- Exhibiting personal and professional conduct that is in the best interest of the organization, learning community, school community and profession;
- Using property, facilities, materials and resources in accordance with local policies and state and federal laws;
- Respecting intellectual property ownership rights (e.g., original lesson plans, district level curricula, syllabi, gradebooks) when sharing materials; and
- Considering the implications of offering or accepting gifts and/or preferential treatment by vendors or an individual in a position of professional influence or power.
E. THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR RECOGNIZES THE PROBLEMATIC NATURE OF MULTIPLE RELATIONSHIPS BY:
- Considering the risks that multiple relationships might impair objectivity, increase the likelihood of harm to students’ learning and well-being, or diminish educator effectiveness;
- Considering the risks and benefits of a professional relationship with someone with whom the educator has a current or past personal relationship;
- Considering the implications and possible ramifications of engaging in a personal relationship with parents/guardians, student teachers, colleagues and supervisors; and
- Ensuring professional responsibilities to paraprofessionals, student teachers or interns do not interfere with responsibilities to students, their learning and well-being.
PRINCIPLE V: RESPONSIBLE AND ETHICAL USE OF TECHNOLOGY
THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR CONSIDERS THE IMPACT OF CONSUMING, CREATING, DISTRIBUTING AND COMMUNICATING INFORMATION THROUGH ALL TECHNOLOGIES. THE ETHICAL EDUCATOR IS VIGILANT TO ENSURE APPROPRIATE BOUNDARIES ASSOCIATED WITH ROLE, TIME AND PLACE ARE MAINTAINED WHEN USING ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION.
A. THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR USES TECHNOLOGY IN A RESPONSIBLE MANNER BY:
- Using social media transparently and primarily for purposes of teaching and learning per school and district policy. The professional educator considers the ramifications of using social media and direct communication via technology with one’s interactions with students, colleagues and the general public;
- Staying current with trends and uses of school technology;
- Evaluating information obtained electronically for reliability and bias. Knowing how to access, use and document proprietary materials respecting intellectual property rights, copyright and fair use;
- Understanding and abiding by the district’s policy on the use of technology and communication;
- Recognizing that some electronic communications are records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and state public access laws;
- Considering the implications of sharing legally protected or other sensitive information electronically either via professional or personal devices/accounts; and
- Exercising vigilance in maintaining separate and professional virtual profiles and keeping personal and professional lives distinct.
B. THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR ENSURES STUDENTS' SAFETY AND WELL-BEING WHEN USING TECHNOLOGY BY:
- Being vigilant in identifying, addressing and reporting (when appropriate and in accordance with local school, district, state and federal policy) inappropriate and illegal materials/images in electronic or other forms;
- Respecting the privacy of students’ presence on social media unless there is possible risk of harm to the student or others; and
- Being attentive and appropriately reporting information concerning possible cyber bullying incidents and their potential impact on the student learning environment.
C. THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR MAINTAINS CONFIDENTIALITY IN THE USE OF TECHNOLOGY BY:
- Taking appropriate and reasonable measures to maintain confidentiality of privileged information and stored or transmitted educational records;
- Understanding the intent of Federal Educational Rights to Privacy Act (FERPA) and how it applies to sharing student records electronically;
- Ensuring the rights of third parties, including the right of privacy, are not violated via the use of technology; and
- Protecting information from being shared with unintended third parties through technology.
D. THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR PROMOTES THE APPROPRIATE USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATIONAL SETTINGS BY:
- Advocating for equal and equitable access to technology for all students;
- Promoting the benefits and clarifying the limitations of various appropriate technological applications with colleagues, appropriate school personnel, parents and community members;
- Promoting technological applications that assist and enhance the teaching and learning process; and
- Practicing and advocating for cybersecurity to protect oneself, others and the integrity of the network.
The verbal, physical, emotional, and social distances that an educator should consider in order to provide structure, security, and predictability. Challenges with boundaries often relate to role, time, and place. Appropriate boundaries are established for the school community by respecting contracted roles, working hours and the location of the learning environment.
[ See Stone, Carolyn (2013). School counseling principles: ethics and law (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA: American School Counseling Association, 58 ]
The customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious or social group, including the characteristic features of everyday existence shared by people in a place or time.
[ http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/culture ]
Any potential action that may impair physical, emotional, psychological, sexual or intellectual safety and well-being of a student or a member of the school community.
IMPLICIT OR EXPLICIT DEMANDS OF AN ORGANIZATION
Implicit demands are often subjective or implied and reflect the culture of the schooling environment. Explicit demands are clearly articulated through directives, policies, regulations or statutes.
Educators working together to achieve the shared goals of strengthening professional practice and student growth.
Multiple relationships occur when an educator is having both a professional and personal affiliation with a member(s) of the school community.
Pre-service educators and recently employed in-service educators.
Licensed educators and other professionals employed by a school entity who demonstrate the highest standards of ethical and professionally competent practice and are committed to advancing the interests, achievements, and well-being of students. Professional educators are also committed to supporting the school community and the education profession. They include, but are not limited to, licensed educators, paraprofessionals, teachers, teacher leaders, student support personnel, administrators, coaches, administrative assistants, custodians and other school staff.
Materials that are protected from unauthorized use by copyright or other forms of intellectual property rights.
A non-desirable consequence that may occur as a result of the situation (e.g., risk to student(s), educator, colleagues, school, profession).
Stakeholders invested in the welfare of a school and its community. A school community includes school employees, students, their parents and families, school board members and other community members.
[ http://edglossary.org/school-community ]
Information gathered through one’s professional practice that, if shared, could cause harm.
A learner enrolled in or receiving services from a P-12 school unless otherwise defined by state statute.
Current and future tools, systems, applications and processes that can include, but are not limited to, electronic communications networks such as the internet and electronic devices (e.g., computers, laptops, phones and other hardware/software) that deliver text, audio, images, animation and streaming video.
Third party refers to a person or a group besides those primarily involved in a situation.
An educator’s openness with respect to one’s behaviors, actions and communications.
© NASDTEC 2015, 2022