Professional teachers are guided by one or more codes of ethics. Sources of professional teachers' codes of ethics include state and school district policies and professional associations. A code of ethics guides the way teachers interact with other teachers, students, parents and members of society.
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The Association of American Educators (AAE) and the National Education Association (NEA) publish ethical guidelines for individuals in the teaching profession. The AAE Code of Ethics was devised by the AAE executive committee and advisory board. The AAE Code contains an overview and four basic principles. The NEA Code contains a preamble and two principles.
The purpose of the AAE Code is given in the overview. It states that a professional teacher shall create a nurturing learning environment, act in a manner that displays the "highest ethical standards" and avoid work stoppages and strikes. The preamble of the NEA Code discusses the responsibility the professional teacher accepts by working in the profession as well as the general goals of the profession. According to the NEA Code, "the Code of Ethics of the Education Profession indicates the aspiration of all educators and provides standards by which to judge conduct."
Both the AAE and the NEA Codes of Ethics establish rules for ethical conduct toward students. The AAE Code states the professional educator shall accept personal responsibility for teaching students the value of "character qualities" and to foster moral principals such as loyalty, integrity, responsibility, cooperation and respect for the law, self and others. The NEA Code focuses more on student achievement. According to the NEA Code, the teacher must not restrain the student from independent action related to learning, deny the student different points of view or exclude students from educational programs. The Codes of both organisations prohibit teachers from embarrassing or disparaging students and require equal treatment regardless of personal or racial attributes.
The AAE Code states teachers must demonstrate competence and professional integrity; abide by the law and school polices; maintain mental and physical health; participate in continuing education and avoid using institutional privileges for personal gain. The NEA Code prohibits teachers from giving misleading information regarding their qualifications.
Colleagues, Parents and Community
Professional teachers are to treat colleagues, parents and members of the community in a fashion that meets ethical standards. The AAE Code states educators should not make false statements about colleagues or reveal the confidential information of colleagues. The teacher is expected to share information regarding education with parents and the public in order to inspire trust and ensure the best interest of the student. The NEA Code addresses the same topics in its preamble.
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