Integrity. It’s a word that I hold very near and dear to my heart. It’s how I choose to lead my life. It’s how I choose what activities to do and who I associate myself with. It’s also how I choose to teach.
But what does it mean to be Teaching with Integrity?
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines integrity as the quality of being honest and fair as well as the state of being complete and whole. I think showing integrity is a very personal statement to each of us though, and so here is what it means to me.
- I am going to focus on my students. My job as a teacher is to remember that I am there to serve the students in my class and I will do so to the best of my ability with a positive attitude. I chose to be a teacher and I choose to love it.
- I will speak up for what is right. I am an advocate for my students and I want my administration to know what is developmentally appropriate and what my students need. I will fight for that in a respectful and professional way.
- I will remember that parents send me the best kids they have. Someone said this to me when I first started to teach and it has stuck with me ever since. I truly believe that we all do the best we can as parents. It is my job to respect that and help my kids be successful in school no matter what. I can’t change their home life, all I can do is be a positive influence on them without judgment.
- I will show respect towards my students at all times. Let’s be completely honest even though some will criticize me for saying this, but we all know there are going to be a few challenges in your class. I will remember that these students are people too who deserve respect and I will become their advocate to ensure they get everything they need to be successful in the classroom. I will respect them inside the classroom as I remember to keep my reactions in check and outside the classroom by talking about the situation only when necessary and with the utmost respect.
- I will teach bell to bell. This is big for me – maybe it’s how I was trained or the result of a district I worked in that was extremely rigorous. If students are in the room, I will be working with them. That extra 5 minutes per day I read with a student instead of grading work could mean a world of difference to a struggling reader and I choose to focus on my students when they are with me no matter what grade level I teach.
- I will be positive with the staff. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of complaining or being unhappy. I choose not to gossip and not to surround myself with those who do. If someone I have to work with does not follow this same standard, I will work with them to the best of my ability and not get wrapped up in the chaos of negativity. If I have an issue with someone, I will speak with them directly.
- I will be cooperative and collaborative. Teaching with integrity means knowing there is a time to cooperate and a time to collaborate. I will be collaborative when I need to work together to get a task done, no matter what the size. I will cooperate when I need to give or take a little in order to keep the piece. I understand that things can’t always go MY way and this is where cooperation comes into play.
- As an employee, I will do what I am told. Sometimes this may not be what I agree with or may not be something I like, but I trust the bigger picture of where I choose to work. (And if I don’t, I need to find a new place to work that better fits my beliefs.)
- I will teach the required curriculum. Yes I have this it’s own section. I may not like parts of the programs I am required to use, but I am REQUIRED to use them. It’s one thing to supplement and another thing to completely throw it out and do your own thing. I will supplement this curriculum to the best of my ability while still staying true to the core philosophies of the school and district in which I work.
By no means am I saying that teachers should not stand up for what they believe in or just cave and do what we are told. But I am a rule follower and let me tell you there is a huge sense of inner peace found in this frame of mind. I genuinely believe that we can be happy as teachers and leading your life with integrity and teaching with integrity is the way to go.