By becoming a teacher, one gains access to great power and great responsibility. A teacher has the opportunity to practice professionalism not only with his students but also their parents, other faculty and staff, and the school district. By being a professional in all of his teaching duties, a teacher will improve the lives and futures of his students and inspire fellow faculty members.
Vickie Gill, author of “The Ten Commandments of Professionalism for Teachers,” suggests that every teacher find a veteran teacher he admires and respects to be his mentor. This mentor should exemplify the aspects of professionalism he finds most important. To learn, he should observe his mentor’s teaching style, the way she presents herself in front of a class and the way she deals with students, parents and other staff. Gill says that new teachers need to find a mentor to “guide them through the pitfalls of the first few years.”
Once a mentor is found, a teacher should take a moment to sit down and define professionalism for himself. Gill says that “successful teachers develop a clear image of themselves at their professional best.” Taking ideas from the observation of his mentor, a new teacher should write a clear picture of the kind of leader and educator he wants to be so that it will manifest in reality through daily practice.
The way one dresses and grooms is an important aspect of professionalism. For a teacher to wear nice clothing to school, such as a button-up shirt and tie, is to announce that he finds his duties important and worthwhile. Gill notes that “successful educators understand that their appearance creates a first impression” to students, parents, fellow teachers and administrators.
A teacher holds an enormous amount of power over his classroom and the future of his students. To be professional, Gill says the teacher must understand that power and respect it. This power can be abused both by becoming overly intimate with students and/or by becoming a “dictator” to students. A teacher who is professional respects this power and uses it to be a positive adult role model.
Parents can become overly involved or concerned about their child’s school life, but a professional teacher will know how to settle any situation. To do this, Gill says that “professional teachers work hard to open up the lines of communication between the home and the school.” Parents should feel well-informed, and misplaced aggression should be met with understanding and patience.
A teacher may forget that he is a part of a greater team, especially if he has his own classroom. Teachers must work cooperatively with other teachers, with principles, administrators, parents and students. To prove that he is an active part of the team, a teacher should turn in assignments and return grades in a timely fashion, and show up on time to all meetings, conferences and classes.
A teacher shows real commitment to being professional by paying attention to detail. Student records, especially those concerned with grades and discipline, are important defences against inevitable student and parent complaints. If a teacher runs his classroom with consistent attention to detail, he will be more trusted and respected by his students and his peers.
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