Professional Learning and Ethical Practice

The ninth standard of the InTASC model, Professional Learning and Ethical Practice, states that teachers must engage in ongoing professional learning using evidence to continually evaluate their practices, in particular their choices and actions on others such as learners, families, other professionals, and members within the community, and then adapt their practices to best meet the needs of all learners. This includes taking responsibility for learning, building relationships, seeking opportunities for professional improvement, and understanding relevant laws, policies, and codes of ethics.

Perhaps one of the most critical aspects of Professional Learning and Ethical Practice is simply establishing relevant relationships with students, families, and colleagues. One of the very first tasks I did as a student-teacher was to create a flip-grid video introducing myself and discussing my roles and responsibilities as a student-teacher. Additionally, I sent out a “Meet Your Teacher” flyer in the take-home packet that every student received during the school supply drop-off/pick-up day, prior to the first week of school, so that students and families could get to know me a little better and reach out to me with any questions or concerns. I also began my student teaching experience exceptionally early, two-weeks before students returned, to spend time getting to know the faculty and staff of Glen Cove Elementary School. This allowed me to both showcase my dedication and commitment to the community as well as build a strong foundation for professional relationships to develop. It also provided critical insight into the planning processes for the return of students under these extraordinary circumstances [9(d),(e),(f)].

Another crucial component of Professional Learning and Ethical Practice, which is exceptionally paramount under the present social conditions, is health and safety policies and procedures. Faculty, staff, students, families, and teachers have had to collaborate and rethink how we can function cohesively and effectively in an environment where learning can take place, all the while maintaining social distancing guidelines recommended by the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health. That meant, restructuring virtually every aspect of how we do things in our academic environment, from spacing students on the buses, student drop-off/pick-up lines, temperature checks, breakfast and lunch dispersals, arranging the classroom and student belongings, recess and encore practices, allowing time for frequent handwashing and sanitizing procedures, and many other changes that we all had to rapidly adjust and adhere to. This was a phenomenal undertaking but we have learned, together, how to re-do learning during a global pandemic.  In the images below, you can see some of the strategies that I utilized to make sure students not only followed guidelines but also still felt comfortable in an environment that required them to follow completely foreign procedures and practice behaviors that they’ve never been shown or expected to follow before. Nonetheless, exhaustive efforts were taken to ensure the safety and well-being of our students was and always will be our top priority, and regardless of the challenges we face, our resiliency, teamwork, and compassion will guide us through whatever challenges we may face in the future, too. [9(g),(l),(m),(n),(o)].

Inclusivity is another paramount element of Professional Learning and Ethical Practice and I’ve spent copious amounts of time working on strategies to make sure my students feel like they are a part of my family. I regularly adjust both strategies and instruction in order to best meet the diverse needs of all my students. I strive to cultivate an environment where all students feel safe, accepted, understood, and cherished for the wonderfully unique human beings they are. From the smaller things like the wall mural I created which includes all of my student’s names on a fun food item (top left) and the social distancing greeting chart that has images of kids from obviously diverse backgrounds showcasing various interests (bottom right), to the more time-consuming efforts of spending time getting to know my students on a personal level (bottom left), and bringing them together, safely, for fun activities like hat day (top right), are just a few of the tools in my repertoire for practicing inclusivity in my classroom and demonstrating the components of Professional Learning and Ethical Practice[9(h),(i),(j),(k),(n)].

For a more detailed look into Professional Learning and Ethical Practice, please click the link below.