Ethics is a concept which describes the systematic reflection on what is right and what is wrong (Van de Poel & Royakkers, 2011, p. 71). Ethical values are established principles which should be followed by an individual or an organization to achieve ethical integrity. The exact principles vary between different cultures, individuals, departments, and companies, but they all govern behavior which is considered virtuous.
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Ethical values are formalized in a code of ethics, a document that lists formal ethical statements and describes the ethical stance of an individual or organization (Johnson, 2011, p. 346). Professional educators at administrative positions are on the frontline of educational improvement and change, their views, values, and commitment shape the future of education.
Therefore, they must exemplify the highest ethical values. Leadership comes with ethical burdens that require leaders to assume moral commitments outlined in codes of ethics. In this paper, I provide a list of personal and professional ethical values that would help me reinforce ethical behavior in the position of a district-level administrator.
Commitment to Maintaining Professional Relationships
As a district-level administrator, I would have to supervise the performance of school district staff and cooperate with my colleagues to ensure the implementation of educational programs. This requires me to exemplify ethical relations with my colleagues, supervisors, and subordinates. I have to treat all of them with equal respect, be just in my judgment and support the diversity of personal opinions.
While maintaining professional relationships and fulfilling other professional duties, I must promote the values of justice, integrity, and social responsibility. I have to establish an open environment that encourages reporting problems and sharing ideas. When working with my colleagues or students, I have to maintain clear boundaries between personal and professional relations and comply with professional standards to create a safe and efficient educational environment.
Commitment to Avoiding Conflicts of Interest
A conflict of interest is a concept which describes those situations in which professional judgment is affected by another interest (Lo & Field, 2009, p. 46). In the position of a district-level administrator, I should strive to avoid conflicts of interest by separating my personal preferences and my professional responsibilities. I should base my decisions on the input from my colleagues and act in the best interest of my district.
To avoid conflicts of interest, I should not accept gifts or compensation offered by third parties for my professional duties or influence my judgment. I should not explore my position for personal gain. If conducting research, developing a new policy or performing other professional duties, I should commit to always disclose my relationships with third parties and present my point of view in an unbiased manner.
Commitment to Modeling Professional Integrity
As a leader, I must supervise with personal integrity and follow ethical leadership principles (Brierton, Graham, Tomal, & Wilhite, 2016, p. 7). I must demonstrate the qualities of honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness to be perceived as an effective leader (Brown & Trevino, 2005, p. 596). As an educator, I should be transparent about my knowledge and experience.
My behavior should act as ethical guidance to employees and reinforce ethical behavior. I should perform my duties as a district-level administrator honestly and with professionalism. I should be transparent when communicating with stakeholders to build trust, be open to feedback and put integrity before my interests.
Providing Equal Rights and Fairness for All
The profession of an educator is built upon tolerance and the acceptance of the diversity of our society. As an educator, I should be committed to equality by respecting and accepting the differences arising from social status, race, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and any other factors which may be included inequality policies.
I accept that education is a basic human right, which means all children despite their learning disabilities should have equal access to quality education. As a district-level administrator, I should work on cultivating a culture of acceptance and tolerance in schools. I should strive to create a learning environment that will allow the maximum participation of all students including students with special needs by implementing assistive technologies to improve accessibility.
Commitment to Professional Collegiality and Collaboration
As an educator, I should commit to developing positive relationships with my colleagues and supervisors and be open to feedback. I should work collaboratively with my colleagues and all stakeholders to establish the highest quality of educational services.
As a district-level administrator, I should accept the fact that teaching is an ever-evolving practice, and to achieve the highest quality of education, it is necessary to collaborate with other teachers, policymakers, and stakeholders. The collaboration is vital for supporting effective educational strategies by sharing knowledge and expertise.
Commitment to Professional Conduct
As an educator, I should uphold the reputation of the profession. In my day-to-day interaction with stakeholders, colleagues, and other school staff, I should communicate in a professional and supportive way. I should not openly exhibit behavior that is considered inappropriate or may impact my position as a leader.
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In the position of a district-level administrator, I should work following current legislation and regulations. I should commit to supervising students and school staff with care and maintaining an engaging working environment. I should ensure that none of the teachers or school staff practice working under the influence of any substances, or are engaged in inappropriate activities while at work.
Commitment to Building Solid Parental and Community Relationship
The educator is committed to communicating with parents and guardians to increase parents or guardians involved in the process of education. The increased parent or guardians’ involvement means that school practice is built around the needs of students and their parents.
As a district-level administrator, I should be knowledgeable of the rights of parents and guardians and our responsibility as educators to protect these rights. I should encourage the engagement of parents and the community by inviting them to discussions on new policies and regulations. I should remember parents’ and guardians’ concerns when performing my professional duties.
Commitment to Building and Sustaining Challenging Academic Environments
“New, difficult, demanding experiences” keep students and educators motivated and promote continuous performance improvement (Johnson, 2011, p. 64). Such experiences prepare students for the future by developing skills aligned with 21st-century requirements. I should create high expectations for myself and my subordinates to promote the culture of constant improvement and excellence.
As a district-level administrator, I should create an atmosphere of high expectations and help teachers create and maintain challenging academic environments. Challenging academic environments can be established by the implementation of policies that outline high standards of education and overseeing their execution.
Commitment to Maintaining Teacher Competence
The educator should be involved in the teaching profession beyond personal interest. I should always seek to get insight from students, parents, and teachers on what can be improved to increase engagement. I should commit to maintaining high levels of engagement throughout my career as an educator.
“Teacher commitment is a key factor influencing the teaching-learning process” (Lawrence & Deepa, n.d., p. 1). To improve the quality of education, I should commit to increasing teachers’ involvement through establishing school initiatives aimed at increasing teachers’ “levels of participation in extra-curricular activities” (Lawrence & Deepa, n.d., p. 1). I should encourage experimentation and research in the field of education. I should monitor the performance of schools in my district and provide recommendations if needed.
Commitment to Society
As a leader in the field of education, I should have an understanding of the impact my work has on the development of the community. I should promote democratic views and help raise awareness about the importance of teachers in all aspects of life. I should model a positive image of educators through interviews, research papers, and social media.
I should promote those values and skills which will help students achieve success in life beyond school. I should perform my professional duties as a reasonable member of society. As a district-level administrator, I should establish those educational programs which will help sustain the well-being of the society.
Brierton, J., Graham, B., Tomal, D., & Wilhite, R. (2016). Ethics and Politics in School Leadership: Finding Common Ground. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
Brown, M., & Trevino, L. (2005). Ethical leadership: A social learning perspective for construct development and testing. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 97, 117-134. DOI:10.1016/j.obhdp.2005.03.002
Johnson, C. (2011). Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow. London: SAGE Publications.
Lawrence, A., & Deepa, T. (n.d.). Teacher Commitment in Promoting Education: the Need of the Hour.
Lo, B., & Field, M. (2009). Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice. Washington: National Academies Press.
Van de Poel, I., & Royakkers, L. (2011). Ethics, Technology, and Engineering: An Introduction. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.