A Teacher’s Code of Conduct

The trigger for drafting the Code of Conduct for teachers came in the last week of August 2011, during Anna Hazare’s crusade against corruption. One of the HEF members expressed concern that HEF was totally silent on this historic anti-corruption movement. However, members were divided on HEF issuing a collective statement. I then sent a mail to Dr. A.K. Sen Gupta and Dr. Ganesh Natarajan expressing my view that we should take the issue closer home. I suggested that at this point of time in history when there is a strong urge to reform, we should draft a code of conduct for teachers, for voluntary adoption by HEF members, which would touch upon commitment to excellence, fairness, equity, academic integrity, moral values and strength of character. Not knowing what I was getting into, I said I would be happy to participate in preparing the draft! With the blessings and endorsement of Dr. Ganesh Natarajan, the project was on! Dr. A.K. Sen Gupta once again proved that he is a man of action- he set up a working group and entrusted me with the responsibility of coordinating the task of drafting a model code of conduct which can be voluntarily adopted by members of HEF. I must compliment and express my gratitude to Dr. Sen Gupta for providing such eminent people to work with that the task was made so pleasant and seemingly easy! I am indeed grateful to each one of them.

As we looked around for the best practices in the world, sure enough the western world did have a lot to say on what the teachers should not do. We wanted a more positive approach to the Code and also wanted to bring in what Indian tradition and philosophy had to offer. Once again, there were many thoughts in our rich tradition and literature. But we were captivated by the forceful and positive approach that is the hallmark of Swami Vivekananda’s teachings. His thoughts were the guiding light for our group. On behalf of the Working Group, I am happy to place before the larger group of HEF, this labour of love and a commitment to a nationalistic spirit.

We agree that no rules or codes can guarantee a change in behavior or character or ensure a teacher’s personal integrity. However, we are convinced that a written code will serve as a reminder about the great responsibility vested with the teachers- that of molding the young minds of this great democracy so that they become her worthy citizens. The Code, in line with the vision of Swami Vivekananda, seeks to motivate the teachers to impart the kind of education he dreamt of. In his words:

“We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded and by which one can stand on one’s own feet.”

The Code encompasses the various attributes of character- truthfulness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and service orientation.

Our belief that the Code will serve the purpose vests on two of its positives- i) it will be a self-imposed Code; and ii) the detailed Guidance to Practice which is appended to the Code makes it ‘doable’; otherwise, we would have had to depend only on the power of positive thinking and the power of affirmations!
Lata Chakravarthy

A Teacher’s Code of Conduct

Preamble:
In the Indian tradition of Guru-Shishya Parampara, the education profession is entrusted with the responsibility of molding the minds of young people so that they become worthy citizens of a humane society. Such trust and responsibility calls for the highest ideals of professional service and the highest degree of ethical conduct.

Ethical Principle:
Teachers Demonstrate, Inspire and Guide, through their own conduct, that learning is a character-building and nation-building noble activity.

Code of Conduct

1. I will be trustworthy and build trustworthiness in my students by:

  • Demonstrating professional competence to teach and learn
  • Being honest and encouraging honesty in all my academic and other human activities
  • Honestly projecting my work by not indulging in copyright/IPR violation
  • Making my services available at all times for the development of students, the institution and the Society I serve
  • Providing honest and objective feedback that will help students to assess their learning and progress towards their goals
  • Demonstrating the courage to speak the truth and do the right thing

2. I will earn respect and help students earn respect by:

  • Treating students, colleagues and management with respect
  • Accepting that each individual is different
  • Using respectful language within and outside the portals of the institution
  • Being considerate to the feelings of others
  • Not hurting or threatening to hurt anyone
  • Not indulging in activities that may hinder the progress of my colleagues
  • Dealing peacefully with anger, protest or disagreement,
  • Learning from the students, and encouraging learning through my teachings.

3. I will demonstrate and guide students to take responsibility for their actions by:

  • Planning carefully to achieve the desired result
  • Always doing my best and demonstrating a passion for excellence and eye for detail
  • Taking actions after duly considering the possible outcomes
  • Being accountable for my words, actions and behavior
  • Setting a good example by being responsible for my own actions

4. I will demonstrate fairness in dealings by:

  • Being objective in evaluation and interaction and showing no bias or preference on the basis of race, color, creed, religion or gender
  • Maintaining relationships with students which will not interfere with fair evaluation
  • Openly accepting my shortcomings through transparency of my actions
  • I will demonstrate caring by:
  • Emotionally connecting with students, to understand their aspirations and anxieties and help them reach their highest potential
  • Maintaining confidentiality of student information unless there is legitimate ground for disclosure
  • Providing a safe and open environment for discussion and dealing with sensitive issues
  • Inculcating a spirit of caring towards all fellow human beings

5. I will demonstrate caring by:

  • Emotionally connecting with students, to understand their aspirations and anxieties and help them reach their highest potential
  • Maintaining confidentiality of student information unless there is legitimate ground for disclosure
  • Providing a safe and open environment for discussion and dealing with sensitive issues
  • Inculcating a spirit of caring towards all fellow human beings

6. I will demonstrate that the knowledge gained is not merely for fulfilling materialistic ambitions but also to serve the society by:

  • Working in harmony with management and colleagues to make my institution and community better place for work
  • Getting involved in community development by applying my knowledge through carefully and systematically planned activities
  • Being a good neighbor to my fellow citizens
  • Complying with the laws of the land and respecting authority
  • Protecting the environment for posterity

7. Towards these commitments, I will periodically review my own conduct as per these principles and positively encourage my friends and family, to bring to my notice any short comings that they may see in me.

Teacher’s Code of Conduct
Compliance, Role and Responsibilities of HEF

1. Compliance with the Code

  • It is the responsibility of the teacher who voluntarily signs this Code to comply with it and in the process, uphold the reputation and honor of HEF and the noble profession of education.
  • In the interest of enhancing the respect for teachers, HEF members are encouraged to share the Code with those of their colleagues who may want to sign up and comply with the Code voluntarily.

2. Role and Responsibilities of HEF

  • The Code belongs to HEF to promote it amongst its members as it deems fit.
  • HEF should make the Code available to its new members as and when they are inducted into the group.
  • HEF will have the version control and decide the next review date as well as who should carry out the review.

3. Guidance on practice

  • The Guidance Note placed below, is intended to help teachers to adopt standards of practice and follow academic processes which will help them to internalize the spirit of the Code and ensure that the Code does not remain on paper.
  • The numbering of the Guidance note corresponds with the numbering of the Code for ease of reference.

Guidance Note

1. I will be trustworthy and build trustworthiness in my students by

a. Demonstrating professional competence to teach and learn
The student trusts that the teacher possesses basic, professional competence in the subject matter taught (content competence) and in the ability to teach (pedagogical competence). This trust has to be built by maintaining a high level of subject knowledge. Students reflect the attitude of the teacher; therefore, if the students are expected to be learning-oriented, teacher has to demonstrate a high inclination towards continuous learning.

Standards for Practice for Content Competence

i. Accepting responsibility for teaching a course/subject only if the teacher possesses thorough knowledge of subject matter and demonstrates a contagious enthusiasm for it;
ii. Demonstrating learning orientation by continuously keeping the course content current, accurate, authoritative and appropriate to the level of the student's program of studies;
iii. Going beyond the curriculum so that the student gets a comprehensive understanding of the subject;
iv. Going beyond the standard/prescribed text book or course materials and providing a list of books, journals, magazine articles and internet resources, mapped to each topic to encourage the students to get multiple perspectives, think critically and form own viewpoints based on reason;
v. Creating a learning experience that makes various aspects of subject matter meaningful to students;
vi. Doing research and developing important and original thoughts on the subject;
vii. Pondering about the discipline, analyzing its nature and evaluating its quality;
viii. Following regularly intellectual developments/ research in the discipline and related fields;
ix. Taking strong interest in broader issues, and building intellectual strength;
x. Meeting periodically with the subject experts/ practitioners to build up the knowledge repertoire;

Standards of Practice for Pedagogical Competence

i. Aligning instruction with curriculum scope and sequence;
ii. Communicating the objectives of the course to students;
iii. Adjusting instruction based on current assessment of students’ mastery and understanding as well as their learning styles;
iv. Selecting instructional goals that reflect high expectations and encourages mastery of facts, development of skills, and understanding of underlying concepts;
v. Being aware of alternative instructional methods or strategies;
vi. Selecting methods of instruction that {according to research evidence, and self-reflective research}, are effective in helping students to achieve the course objectives;
vii. Selecting or designing learning activities that are clearly connected to instructional goals and objectives;
viii. Planning lessons that are clear, logical, and sequential;
ix. Differentiating instruction to accommodate the learning needs of all students;
x. Incorporating activities and teaching innovations that promote the development of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills;
xi. Reviewing and revising the methods of teaching on a regular basis, based on feedback from students and an objective assessment of learning outcomes.

b. Being honest and encouraging honesty in all my academic and other human activities

i. Honestly admitting when required that ‘I do not know’ and stating that ‘I will find out’.
ii. Acknowledging the sources of all teaching resources such as presentations, videos, cases, assignments, exercises, activities, games, role plays;
iii. Acknowledging the contribution of colleagues and other members of teaching fraternity, industry or society;
iv. Acknowledging term papers and other assignments and returning them to students after evaluation;
v. Acknowledging use of student work and scholarly assistance in any research or publication;
vi. Briefing students on what is academic honesty and setting up appropriate institutional and individual processes to ensure that plagiarized work is not accepted/ rewarded.
vii. Using the institution’s resources and facilities only for institutional purpose and not for personal, commercial or any other purpose.
viii. Displaying utmost integrity in all financial dealings with management and with third parties.

c. Honestly projecting my work by not indulging in copyright/IPR violation

i. Refraining from plagiarism, by not representing ideas, words, or data of another person or persons as one's own;
ii. Giving appropriate credit for information from all sources including electronic resources;
iii. Acknowledging the source(s) of data and accurately describing the method by which their data was gathered;
iv. Refraining from any fabrication or falsification of data or results constituting a violation of ethical standards;
v. Disclosing publicly the sources of funding and the intent of the research;
vi. Conducting research in a manner consistent with the ethical standards for investigation in the respective disciplines;
vii. Seeking informed consent for research involving human subjects, ensuring that they are aware of the nature of the research and voluntarily agree to be a part of such research;

d. Making my services available at all times for the development of students, the institution and the Society I serve

i. Announcing and maintaining working hours as per terms of appointment;
ii. Refraining from taking up any unauthorized, non-institutional work during office hours;
iii. Duly recording official duty outside the institutional premises;
iv. Starting and ending the class on time every time and insisting on students being punctual;
v. Functioning as mentors to the students and extending all possible help for their development;
vi. Attending all meetings, lectures and functions on invitation and demonstrating passion and commitment to cause;
vii. Cooperating with colleagues whenever such cooperation is sought;
viii. Participating in and encouraging students to participate in community work.
ix. Standing by students, colleagues and management by going beyond the call of duty.

e. Providing honest and objective feedback that will help students to assess their learning and progress towards their goals

i. Ensuring that assessment of students is valid, open, fair, and congruent with course objectives;
ii. Being aware of research (including personal or self-reflective research) on the advantages and disadvantages of alternative methods of assessment;
iii. Communicating clearly to the students, expectations for learning, assessment procedures and grading standards at the beginning of the course;
iv. Using a variety of assessments that align with concepts and skills taught;
v. Assessing and reporting student progress in a manner that is understandable to students, parents, and colleagues;
vi. Being prompt and accurate in providing feedback on their performance at regular intervals with explanation as to how their work was graded, and constructive suggestion to improve their standing in the course;
vii. Allocating adequate opportunity to learn and practice the skills that are to be evaluated.

f. Demonstrating the courage to speak the truth and do the right thing

i. Taking on the role of a whistle-blower without hesitation, if any unethical practices are observed or brought to notice;
ii. Proactively taking corrective action to set right wrong behavior or practice.

2. I will earn respect and help students earn respect by

a. Treating students, colleagues and management with respect
i. Students: Encouraging students to question, in their pursuit of learning; adhering to one’s professional role as guide and mentor; respecting confidentiality of information about students and refraining from making negative comments about students to faculty colleagues; refraining from making negative comments about faculty colleagues and management to students; refraining from entering the class late, cancelling classes at short notice or at the request of a few students in class; presenting before the students with enthusiasm, drive, initiative and open mindedness; following a dress code that is expected of the students; maintaining emotional stability.
ii. Teachers: Speaking respectfully of colleagues and rendering assistance for professional development of junior colleagues; refraining from soliciting criticisms of colleagues from students; referring to authorities any voluntary complaint from students; being objective in professional judgment of colleagues; investigating thoroughly and consulting privately, if a colleague has shown incompetence or ethical violation in teaching before taking further action;

iii. Management: Speaking respectfully of management with colleagues and students; promptly fulfilling reporting and administrative obligations; giving due notice of intention to quit the service, recognizing the effect of the decision on management and students; refraining from actions which are in conflict with institutional mission, goals and policy.

b. Accepting that each individual is different
i. Encouraging diverse abilities and talents and enhancing their self-worth;
ii. Encouraging the students to be open to peer learning and dissuading them from criticizing their peers in the classroom and outside;
iii. Using a range of pedagogical tools that will cater to students with diverse learning styles;
iv. Refraining from comments based on gender, ethnic group, religious belief or physical handicap which are inappropriate in the classroom environment;
c. Items c to h are self-explanatory.

3. I will demonstrate and guide students to take responsibility for their actions by

a. Planning carefully to achieve desired results
Planning demonstrates sincerity of purpose and goal orientation.
i. Scanning the environment for latest technology, tools, books, journals, e-learning material, cases, activities and such resources ahead of each cycle of teaching and selecting those most appropriate for achieving instructional goals and learning outcomes;
ii. Defining Learning objective for each course and Learning Outcomes for each session;
iii. Drawing up a detailed Session Plan for each session which includes a description of concept/topic, Learning Outcome, pre-read material, reference books, articles, etc., case/activity/exercises/role play or any such learning tool to be used in the session, proposed evaluation tool to assess learning outcome;
iv. Drawing up a detailed Evaluation Plan for the entire course listing evaluation components (such as quiz, test, class participation, project, group assignment, seminar), planned date of administration, weightage, parameters for evaluation (such as content, analytical skills, written communication skills, clarity of concept, etc.)

v. Communicating to students at the commencement of the course, not only the session plan and evaluation plan but also the rules to be enforced on punctuality, attendance, behavior in class, timely submission of assignments, academic honesty and make-up tests/assignments if any evaluations are missed; feedback mechanism; commitment to dates by which evaluations will be completed and marks and feedback given; consequences of non-compliance with rules.

b. Always doing my best and demonstrating a passion for excellence and eye for detail

Passion for excellence is demonstrated in setting very high expectations from students and refusing to accept poor quality work turned in by students; it is also reflected in self-imposed, high standards of academic scholarship and delivery and constantly raising the bar. Passion for excellence is to be seen and felt in every action and behavior inside and outside the classroom, positively infecting and influencing student and colleagues.
Eye for detail coexists with passion for excellence, passion for perfection and passion for creating an environment for learning sans aberrations which distract the mind; an environment for clear communication to achieve the desired objectives.

i. Aligning instruction with curriculum scope and sequence;
ii. Adjusting instruction based on current assessment of students’ mastery and understanding;
iii. Selecting instructional goals that reflect high expectations and encouraging mastery of subject, development of skills and understanding and assimilation of underlying concepts;
iv. Selecting or designing learning activities that are clearly connected to instructional goals and objectives;
v. Differentiating instruction to accommodate the learning needs of all students;
vi. Managing classroom procedures that maximize efficient use of student and teacher time and effort;
vii. Using materials, technology, and resources that promote the development of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills;
viii. Incorporating activities and teaching innovations that promote independent thinking and develop problem-solving skills among students;

c. Taking actions after duly considering the possible outcomes

Evaluating possible outcomes prior to taking action helps in building critical thinking skills, decision-making skills and paves the way for success as well as prepares one for accepting failure.

d. Being accountable for my words, actions and behavior

i. Periodically checking on whether promises/commitments on paper are being kept in terms of progress in course delivery, evaluation, achievement of learning outcomes;
ii. Periodic self-assessment to check if behavior displayed is in line with proclaimed values and is worthy of emulation;

e. Setting a good example by being responsible for my own actions

4. I will demonstrate fairness in dealings by

a. Being objective in evaluation and interaction and show no bias or preference on the basis of race, color, creed, religion or gender;

i. Communicating clearly in advance, tools, methods, parameters for evaluation and weightage for each evaluation component and each parameter, timing of evaluation, dates for announcing the marks and for giving feedback;
ii. Being very conscious about not allowing any bias on the basis of race, color, creed, religion or gender to influence evaluation of student’s performance;
iii. Creating a safe and positive environment for students by implementing disciplinary procedures with fairness and consistency;

b. Maintaining relationships with students which will not interfere with fair evaluation

i. Keeping relationships with students focused on pedagogical goals and academic requirements;
ii. Maintaining objectivity in situations, whereby the perception of favoritism on the part of other students is minimized, as this could be as disastrous as actual favoritism or unfairness;
iii. Refraining from any form of close personal relationship, giving or accepting gifts from a current student;
iv. Responsibly notifying the higher authorities if in spite of efforts to counsel, such relationships prevail, so that alternative arrangements can be made for supervision or evaluation of the student;

c. Openly accepting my shortcomings through transparency of my actions.

5. I will demonstrate caring by
a. Emotionally connecting with students, to understand their aspirations and anxieties and help them reach their highest potential

i. Mentoring students to help them make important academic/professional decisions;
ii. Incorporating knowledge and understanding of students’ physical, social, emotional and cognitive development in instructional design;
iii. Recognizing and celebrating the achievements of students;
iv. Creating a supportive learning environment for all students that encourages social interaction, self-motivation, active engagement in learning and nurtures basic human values.

b. Maintaining confidentiality of student information unless there is legitimate ground for disclosure

i. Disclosing upfront, rules and policies followed with respect to confidentiality of student records;
ii. Maintaining confidentiality of individual student grades;
iii. Student records and private communications to be treated as confidential materials and released only with consent of student or as per disclosed policy where there is reasonable ground for disclosure and such disclosure is in the interest of the student or to prevent harm to others.
iv. In the absence of adequate grounds (i.e., student consent, legitimate purpose, or benefit to student) any of the following could be construed as a violation of confidentiality:
1. Providing student academic records to a potential employer, researcher, or private investigator;
2. Discussing a student's grades or academic problems with another faculty member;
3. Using privately communicated student experiences as teaching or research materials;
4. Leaving graded student papers or examination answer books in a pile outside one's office for the students to pick up.

c. Providing a safe and open environment for discussion and dealing with sensitive issues

i. Acknowledging from the outset that a particular topic is sensitive, and explaining why it is necessary to include it in the course curriculum;
ii. Identifying his or her own perspective on the topic and comparing it to alternative approaches or interpretations, thereby providing students with an understanding of the complexity of the issue and the difficulty of achieving a single objective conclusion;
iii. Providing a safe and open environment for class discussion by:
- Inviting all students to state their position on the issue;
- Setting ground rules for discussion;
- Being respectful of students even when it is necessary to disagree; and
- Encouraging students to be respectful of one another.

d. Inculcating a spirit of caring towards all fellow human beings

i. Developing reciprocity and cooperation among students;
ii. Encouraging team effort to enhance collaborative learning;
iii. Communicating that it is cooperation and not competition which leads to success;
iv. Demonstrating an attitude of genuine caring for students

6. I will demonstrate that the knowledge gained is not merely for fulfilling materialistic ambitions but also to serve the society by

a. Working in harmony with management and colleagues to make one’s institution and community a better place for work;
b. Getting involved in community development by applying one’s knowledge through carefully and systematically planned activities;
c. Being a good neighbor to one’s fellow citizens;
d. Complying with the laws of the land and respecting authority.

References:

1. Chickering, W Arthur and Gamson F Zelda (1987), Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education, The American Association for Higher Education Bulletin, March 1987, as viewed at http://www2.honolulu.hawaii.edu/facdev/guidebk/teachtip/7princip.htm on 18/9/2011
2. Ethical Principles in University Teaching, http://www.mcmaster.ca/3Mteachingfellowships/ethical-principles-document.html
3. Josephson, Michael (2002), Making Ethical Decisions, Josephson Institute of Ethics as viewed in part in http://charactercounts.org/sixpilars.html on 6/9/2011
4. Matthews, J.R. (1991), The Teaching of Ethics and the Ethics of Teaching, Teaching Psychology, Vol.18, pp. 80-85
5. National Education Association (NEA), Code of Ethics of the Education Profession, Preamble- http://www.nea.org/home/30442.htm viewed on 6/9/2011
6. Palmquist A Ruth, Dr. - Code of Conduct for University Educators - http://www.gradshare.com/advice.html?id=625 viewed on 8/9/2011
7. Sacramento City College , Faculty Code of Ethics and Faculty Statement of Professional Ethics, - http://www.scc.losrios.edu/Documents/catalog/info/FacultyEthics.pdf viewed on 6/9/2011
8. Saddleback College- Faculty Code of Ethics and Professional Standards - http://www.saddleback.edu/gov/senate/acsen/acsen/ethics.html viewed on 8/9/2011
9. Swami Ranganathananda (1988), Role and Responsibility of Teachers Building up Modern India, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
10. Swami Vivekananda, The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol. I, Karma Yoga, Chapter VI
11. University of California- The Faculty Code of Conduct as approved by the Assembly of the Academic Senate - http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/senate/manual/apm015.pdf viewed on 6/9/2011
12. Virani, Farida (2010), A Performance Evaluation Model for School Teachers in a Tech- driven World of Today‘. Paper presented at the International Conference on Business & Information technology: Contemporary Research and Development, February 25-26, 2010, IMT Ghaziabad, India
13. Virginia Standards for the Professional Practice of Teachers. Approved by the Virginia Board of Education. May 21, 2008, www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching/.../prof_practice_standards.pdf