PSEL (2015) – Ethics and Professional Norms – Balancing Act: My Role as an Instructional Coach

For me, defining a specific moment or event during my internship in which I focused on ethics and professional norms of an administrator. As I reflected, I found it increasingly difficult to find the event. Sure, I could have shared my thirty-minute training video at the beginning of the year on mandatory reporting of child abuse, bullying, and the other beginning of the year topics as my ethics and norms, but I don’t feel like that would truly be in the spirit of the assignment. While those items are extremely important, especially for a school administrator, I do not feel that something mandatory for me to watch fits within the ethics and professional norms standard. As I continued to reflect upon all that I have done thus far, I realized I live in a world where I have to balance ethics and professional norms on a daily basis. As an instructional technology coach, I work between administration and teaching staff. This working environment, which I affectionately think of as an educational abyss, provides me with the opportunity to continuously balance ethics and professional norms.

For starters, my role is to assist the teachers. To assist the teachers, I have to develop a collegial relationship centered on trust. This is the first example where my professional norms come into play. In order for me to effectively build relationships, I need to demonstrate trust. Teachers need to be aware of two things within our relationship. First, I will support them in what they try in their classroom. After all, my role as an instructional technology specialist. I am there to offer support and help pick the teachers up, especially if a lesson flops and doesn’t meet our expectations. This leads right into the second part of the relationship. Teachers need to know that I am not going to go to an administrator and explain how things did not go well. They need to know that what they confide in me, as well as what they share with me, will stay with me. This is essential to us being able to develop a meaningful relationship with the staff. This is a professional norm and part of my character.

While I do have an obligation to report anything required by law or significant concerns, my first priority should not be to share the what teachers do and do not do in the classroom. As I work to demonstrate my professional norms and my ethics, this is something paramount. Building trust is part of the culture of a building that I want to work in. While I will, more than likely, inherit a staff with many issues, building a trusting culture will be essential to my success as a school administrator.

My ethics and professional norms are called into question when I am conversing with administrators as well. From time to time, administrators in the district will question what is happening in the classroom, specifically in their buildings. While it is important that I share the information that I can, to maintain that collegial relationship focused on trust, I must not give too much away. While I am sure to celebrate the successes and cool things that happen, when pressed about where we are at with teaching practices, technology integration, and classroom management, I tend to provide more generic answers. When questioned about a specific teacher by an administrator, I must exercise my norms and my ethics as I answer the question. I need to decide how to approach that situation. More often than not, I reference our first meeting with the district coaches at the beginning of the year and remind them that we are to be neutral assistants in the process, not reporters or evaluators. IWhenI am in a classroom, I am not evaluating anything other than what we discussed and how it is going. I am not there to do a full evaluation of the teaching practices or classroom management.
While I do not have a concrete, specific event in my internship focused on professional norms and ethics, I do have significant experience balancing the two with the work that I am doing. For me, it is essential that I develop the trust and the collegial relationships. To do that, I need to find a way to balance my professional norms and ethics in the work that I do. Thus, I feel successful in the work that I have done on this front during my internship.

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