Legal and Ethical Implications for Classroom Management
Legal and Ethical Implications for Classroom Management July 07, 2010 Classroom Management Classroom management is the key to a successful school year for both the teacher and the students. I have read about various methods, techniques, and disciplines useful in establishing a solid foundation for student cooperation and participation. I wholeheartedly understand that I cannot control another person’s thoughts, feelings, and/or actions. However, I do believe I am capable of establishing a healthy rapport with administration, co-workers, parents, and students that will allow me to obtain my desired goals for student achievement.
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I believe successful classroom management is developed based on the proper mixture of being prepared, respectful, hopeful, encouraging, structured and disciplined. These are a few of the characteristics of successful educators. My goal is to learn how to acquire, maintain and provide these elements consistently without bias. In order to do this I will need to understand and be able to utilize the legal and ethical rights of an educator. As well as understanding and coping with the legal and ethical rights of students and parents.
There have been many stories in the news regarding the violation of teachers, students or parents rights. I still hold onto the romantic notion that teachers genuinely care about students, students want to be involved in the learning process, and that parents want to do whatever is deemed necessary to help their student succeed. It is an unfortunate reality that not every teacher cares for their student’s success let alone well-being. It is an unfortunate reality that students go to school simply because they are made to or because they want to socialize.
Even more -disturbing is the reality that some parents do not have the skills, tools, or desires to help their student achieve academic success or successful community independence and integration. As an educator I believe it will be my responsible to do all I can to help students and parents work together with the school to reach and maintain the common goal of student success. I must admit though that it is disheartening to read articles about the lack of respect, care, and/or concern for the basic human rights. Teachers One of the rights a teacher has is that of academic freedom.
Academic Freedom is based on the First Amendment freedom of expression. Even though the freedom is limited to content, teachers have the right to choose information that is relevant and consistent to their responsibilities. They also have the right to choose the method of presentation. It is well understood that a teacher cannot impose their own opinions or beliefs onto that of the students, but a teacher has the right to hold and promote their own beliefs. Information being taught in history and social studies can be delivered in a variety of formats.
On May 02, 2007 New York Times Staff Writer reported of monumental case that enforces this right for teachers. Bradley Johnson, a math teacher in a Michigan public school, displayed two banners at the school that refers to a Higher Power specifically God. The first banner read, “In God We Trust One Nation Under God”. The second banner read, “God Bless America God Shed His Grace On Thee”. Mr. Johnson was asked to remove the banners after displaying them in the hallways of the public school for more than 25 years.
The administration claimed the nature of the banners might offend non Christian students. The federal civil rights lawsuit filed claimed Mr. Johnson’s constitutional rights were violated when he was told to remove the banners. It also claimed these phrases are well known by students in all schools. The federal court ruled in Mr. Johnson’s favor stating school is a place where students should be learning social tolerance. He was able to re-hang the banners. This case was seen as a restriction of a teacher’s viewpoint and a direct violation of his state and constitutional rights.
Although the banners represent Mr. Johnson’s true inner beliefs, they also represent the basis of which the United States was formed and this content is taught in all schools. The outcome of this lawsuit shows the protection of a teacher’s ideas on what and how to present relevant content to students. Parents The rights and responsibilities of parents are seen in various ways throughout the community, nation, and the world. Parenting skills are not always taught and generally parents inadvertently get better at parenting as life moves on and/or having more children.
Just like the variations in the type of teacher a student may have, there are different types of parents. Some parents want to be involved in the education process and some do not. Some parents see public schooling as the means of their children receiving viable opportunities for success while others see public school as a necessary evil. Although the intentions and desires of parents are not unified, parents have rights and responsibilities with regard to having their children in public school. Parents have the right to direct and choose education as well as to be informed about school activities and student progress.
Parents have rights regarding student religion, sex education, assembly, speech, financial assistance, and student discipline or the lack thereof. These rights outline the primary purpose for public and private schools as helping parents to meet their overall parental goals for their student(s) education. However, the schools need to maintain order and safety has lead to a number of violations of parents’ rights. Schools and states have developed various laws that completely remove the parent’s rights, responsibility, and judgment.
The O’Reilly Factor with business anchor host John Stossel aired on Fox News April 06, 2010. In this interview O’Reilly and Stossel discussed various state laws being passed today that limit parental responsibility. The first case mentioned was that of a High School based Health Clinic where a mother signed a consent form allowing her 15 year old daughter to use the services of such clinic. In this clinic, the daughter was supported in receiving an abortion without first notifying her mother. However shocking this may sound, Washington state law allows a female of any age to terminate regnancy. This law clearly takes the parent out of the decision making process for a young pregnant teen. In the interview Stossel disagrees with this law and claims it allows for no parental involvement in a highly sensitive and emotional issue. The second issue mentioned was the upholding of the Idaho state imposed curfews by the Idaho Supreme Court. The curfew deters children under the age of 16 from being outside the home after a specified time. Teens are literally being arrested for being at a neighborhood park after curfew.
This law removes the parents ability to judge the character and responsibility of their own children. The last item mentioned was that of an Oregon school which has banned hugging. Student are being reprimanded and disciplined for showing care, concern and affection to their fellow classmates. Administrators indicated that specific students, known to be in a relationship, were giving lingering hugs while on campus. The goal of the administration was to impede sexual contact and/or innundos. The students received detention and one mother was irate claiming there is nothing wrong with giving someone a hug.
The argument for this case was if the parent was comfortable with her daughter giving the boy a hug, why should the school feel different. Students Although some will argue that a student’s rights in public school are decreasing more and more as the administration struggles to maintain control, students do have protected rights involving the following freedoms: quality education, speech, religious practice, individual thought, and expression. These freedoms become an issue when they infringe on the rights and safety of others.
Federal statute has been created to protect these rights of the students and this gives students the opportunity to learn how to properly interact within society. These rights are solid examples of mature adult behavior and must be practiced in order to gain confidence and mastery. Concerns for students reported most recently surrounded the teacher student relationship in these areas: drugs, sex, and violence. More cases involving these issues are heard of everyday and I believe it is highly unfortunate for any student to have to experience such negativity from a trusted adult.
In Chicago, Kym Krocza, a freshman Algebra teacher in Fox Lake was sentenced for giving alcohol, Zoloft, and marijuana to two 14 year old girls. The story indicates that the girls lived in the same neighborhood as the teacher and were hired to do household chores. They were paid with alcohol and drugs. She was charged with a misdemeanor instead of a felony because she held no prior criminal record. She was fired from her position, and has been banned from teaching while on probation. Even though she did not have a prior criminal history, I believe the charges should have been felony charges.
She was the teacher of these students and the model of appropriate behavior. Her actions were wreck less and irresponsible. In Utah, Melissa Andreini plead guilty to having unlawful sex with a minor student. She was not the students’ teacher directly but knew him from school. She hired him to do yard work and began a sexual relationship with him when he was 15 years old. As of January 2010 she had not been sentenced, but her attorney stated they hoped the sentencing would be light because she was not directly his teacher. Again, this is a person of trust and authority.
Although pre-teens may think it’s cool to use drugs or have sex with teachers, it is not. Most recently, in Houston, Sheri Lynn Davis was recorded on a video cell phone as she slapped, kicked and punched a student into the floor. In the broadcast she expressed regret for the incident and her attorney stated there were other incidents leading up to this attack. After students finished taking an exam they were moved to a locked room. In this locked room, with only a window partition view, Ms. Davis saw what she thought was an attack of a special education student by another student.
She panicked and frantically entered the locked room and aggressively approached the student. Along the way, she kicked a desk and a book and ended up cornering the student until he crouched onto the fall. She began beating the boy and yelling at him. Another student caught the act on video phone. The student’s family is suing Ms. Davis and the charter school. Ms. Davis and her attorney were interviewed and stated there was no excuse for her actions and she was very sorry. There is no reason, explainable or understandable, for hitting a child, especially a teacher.
To me the circumstances do not matter. No child asks to be abused mentally, physically, or emotionally. This is child abuse plain and simple. A student has the right to attend school without the possibility of being victimized by faculty or staff. Teachers do not want the responsibility of being a role model, nor do they care to provide consistent discipline and guidance. When I have my own classroom, I will choose to take the responsibility and I will care about my students’ needs and best interest. From these examples I am learning what not to do in order to improve my classroom management style.
I want to be able to establish discipline from the start and remain consistent with it throughout the year. I will plan my lessons in advance and I will incorporate material I believe is relevant and important enough to be shared with student. I believe this will keep the information fresh and up-to-date so that students will find the information engaging. I will make every attempt to establish a positive relationship with my students’ family. I will educate parents on their rights as parents and help them to get the most out of public school.
I will keep the parents informed of their students’ progress and I will incorporate their help in the home to establish healthy study habits to increase the students’ achievement level. By doing this I will be fulfilling my personal commitment of responsibility to the student. I will never incorporate solicit a students’ cooperation through illegal activity. If after trying various management styles with a student and I still remain unsuccessful, I will seek help from the administration on how to best manage the system and improve student achievement.
By seeking support from the administration I will be opening myself up for more creative ideas and will possibly find a method of structure that will be successful for such students’. Classroom management provides structure and discipline which in turn provides dignity and teaches respect. It is not only about how the classroom is run, but also about how the teacher carries herself while interacting with students. Classroom management is about developing healthy respectful relationships that foster growth and maturity in students. In the examples cited classroom management was non-existent.
The stories mentioned within are examples of how teachers handled themselves beyond the definition of irresponsible and it is my hope that I will be able to grasp a clear understanding of how to establish classroom management so that I do not make irresponsible choices in my classroom with my students. REFERENCES Warth, G. (2010, March, 2). POWAY: Judge rules teacher’s ‘God’ banners did not violate church-state laws Constitutional rights said violated by PUSD action. North County Times. Retrieved from http://www. nctimes. com/news/local/poway/article_61e93c99-173f-5ebf-9509-a60241d8584e. html Mass, W. 2010, March, 25). Seattle School Arranges Student’s Abortion. The Birch Society. Retrieved from http://www. jbs. org/family-and-freedom-blog/6138-seattle-school-arranges-students-abortion Oregon Students Challenge Unconstitutional Curfew in Lake Oswego. (2010). ACLU. Retrieved from http://www. aclu. org/racial-justice_prisoners-rights_drug-law-reform_immigrants-rights/oregon-students-challenge-unconsti KATU (2005). Oregon Middle School Decides To Ban Hugging. [Electronic Version]. Portland, OR: The Associated Press. Caplan, A. H. (2005). The Human Rights of Students in Public Schools: Principles and Trends.
Human Rights Magazine, 32 (4), p. 8-9, cont’d p. 25. Retrieved July 12, 2010, from http://www. abanet. org/irr/hr/Fall05/humanrightsstudents. html Correa. A. (2010). Woman in Ingleside admits she got teens drunk and high. Retrieved July 12,2010, from nbcchicago, http://www. nbcchicago. com/news/local-beat/Ex-Teacher-Charged-For-Supplying-Minors-With-Booze-and-Pot-92855359. html McRann, C. (Reporter). (2010). Andreini pleads guilty to sex with a minor. [Electronic version]. Carbon County, UT: Sun Advocate. KTRK-TV (Producer). (May 14, 2010). Eyewitness News [Television broadcast], Houston, TX: ABC 13.