How to Become an Ethical Teacher

Ethical Teacher


Ethics or moral philosophy is the branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct.

As a branch of philosophy, ethics investigates the questions:

  1. What is the best way for people to live?
  2. What actions are right or wrong in particular circumstances?

In practice, ethics seeks to resolve questions of human morality, by defining concepts such as:

  1. good and evil
  2. right and wrong
  3. virtue and vice
  4. justice and crime

Professional Ethics

Professionally accepted standards of personal and business behavior, values and guiding principles. Codes of professional ethics are often established by professional organizations to help guide members in performing their job functions according to sound and consistent ethical principles.

Professional Ethics encompass standards of behavior expected by professionals. There are several aspects that teachers have to take into account if they want to become an ethical teacher. These are some of the most important aspects to take into consideration:

How to Become an Ethical Teacher

Ethical Teachers Have Disciplinary Competence:

  1. They must have the necessary content knowledge to provide students with up-to-date information.
  2. They have to teach courses within their area of expertise.
  3. If a teacher is asked to teach a course out of their area of expertise, he or she should make a personal ethical responsibility to increase her content knowledge in that area.

Ethical Teachers should Teach Effectively through an Effective Pedagogy

  1. Teachers must remember that content knowledge is not everything so they must have a set of great pedagogical techniques.
  2. Ethical teachers should evaluate the effectiveness of his teaching methodology and the learning strategies that they use in class.
  3. Teachers should make the adjustments necessary  to improve their teaching effectiveness.

Ethical Teachers Provide Balanced Content and Free Inquiry

  1. Teachers must encourage students to think critically.
  2. Educators should’t indoctrinate students into a particular point of view.
  3. Teachers should encourage open discussion.

Ethical Teachers Should Respect Students

  1. Teachers should treat students as individuals.
  2. Teachers should avoid policies that are unfair.

Ethical Teachers Foster Academic Integrity

  1. Teachers should encourage academic integrity.
  2. Educators should communicate and apply consequences for academic dishonesty.
  3. Teachers have the ethical responsibility to adress potential violations to academic integrity.

Ethical Teachers Use Objective and Fair Assessment

  1. Assessments should be objective, valid and fair.
  2. Assessments should match course objectives.
  3. Teachers must design valid and reliable test questions.

Ethical Teachers Protect Their Students’ Confidentiality

  1. Teachers should mantain student performance confidential.
  2. Only individual students should have access to their graded assignments.
  3. Sharing  confidential information with others should happen only when it is necessary.

Ethical Teachers Have Professionally Appropriate Relationships With Their Students

  1. Teachers should mantain professional and objective relationship with students.
  2. Teachers should avoid behaviors that take advantage of their power relationship with students.
  3. Ethical teachers should avoid situations  that might be construed as discrimination or sexual harassment.

Ethics Case Studies in Education

Professional Ethics encompass standards of behavior expected by professionals. There are several aspects that teachers have to take into account if they want to become an ethical teacher. These are some Ethics Case Studies in Education for you to analyze in class.

Case #1

Mr. Sanchez is a new teacher, recently he was offered  a position as a classic  literature teacher in an institute near home. He has a degree in teaching but he hasn’t read most of the literature covered in the program. Should he take that job?


Mr. Daniel  is a teacher with 7  years of experience, he is working for a prestigious institution in his hometown. The institution uses a method for teaching all classes, the Montessori Method of Education.  Despite trying hard to learn more about how to incorporate the method into his language classes, he has found it hard to do since the method is new to him.

Case #3

Mr  Lopez  is a  teacher with a good level of  english proficiency and currently teaches in a bilingual highschool near the beach. In his classes, there are students who were born in the United States. Michael is doing his best to teach the advanced grammar class however students are able to recognize mistakes and errors during his explanations and teaching . Parents are concerned that his teaching could affect student performance when they have to start their majors in a university in the United States.

Case #4

Mrs Smith  is a 52 year old teacher,  she has more than 3 decades of experience. Recently, the Department of Education in her country decided to change the teaching methodology to avoid having teacher-centered classes. Mrs.  Smith is not open to switch the old methodology for a new one and she claims that the old methodology still works for her.

Case #5

Mrs.  Daniels is a teacher of a conversational class,  as a teacher, she is expected to lead a debate with her students.  A group of students suggested gay marriage as  good topic for the debate. Now Mrs. Daniel is concerned because there are students who are openly gay  and other students are religious. She doesn’t want to use that debate topic because she believes that some remarks made during the debate might hurt some people’s feelings.

Case #6

Mr. Young is an English teacher in a University . He usually teaches a pronunciation class called Pronunciation III. The syllabus suggests using Pronunciation Grammar in Use Advanced as resource book. At the beginning of each semester, he realizes that students don’t know the basics about English pronunciation, so he has to spend some time covering topics that were meant to be covered in previous  pronunciation courses. To his dissapointment, this is a recurring situation.

Case #7

Mr Jones is a teacher of a written communication class. In these classes, students are required to write essays.  Mr. Jones finds convenient that students write their assignments at home. Recently,  he noticed that some essays have no mistakes at all and they even have vocabulary that it is out of the  student’s zone of proximal  development.

Case #8

Mrs. Erickson is a new teacher. Some of the groups she teaches have serious behaviour problems. She doesn’t know what to do to make students behave. She is totally discouraged by the situation and has considered quitting. When She was in the a meeting room, she  realized that most teachers are having similar problems with the same group.

Case #9

Mr. Meyers is an university professor, he usually teaches English classes to 18 year old students. He feels attracted to a student who is not part of his class and the student admits feeling the same thing for him. Since Mr. Meyers is not his teacher.  He doesn’t have problems with being friends and possibly dating the student.

Case #10

Mrs. Johansen is currently teacher in a university class. She gets along with most of the students. During one of her classes, a student decided that it would be a great idea to go for a beach trip. Mrs Johansen seems that taking a beach trip with her students is not a problem since they are doing it after work hours.

Learn More

If you want to learn more about how to become an Ethical Teacher, make sure that you read this this document 

Becoming an Ethical Teacher by G. William Hill IV and Dorothy D. Zinsmeister from the Book Effective College and University Teaching: Strategies and Tactics for the New Professoriate

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