What the Victorian Teaching Profession Code of Conduct Means to MeSECTION 1: PROFESSIONAL CONDUCTRELATIONSHIPS WITH STUDENTSPrinciple 1.1: Teachers provide opportunities for all students to learnThe main focus of teaching is student learning. Teachers demonstrate their commitment tostudent learning by:a. knowing their students well, respecting their individual differences and catering for theirindividual abilitiesThis means speaking to your students to find out about them, their interests and how they learn. Italso might mean doing diagnostic tests to figure out what kind of learning style each student has.The result will be that teaching a class must involve a variety of activates since every child will hasdifferent interests and abilities. As a result of differing abilities, a teacher must prepare activitiesthat are flexible and easily modified for individuals.b. maintaining a safe and challenging learning environmentThis involves two key parts: 1. Maintaining a safe physical environment free from bullying and harassment. It also means have rules and consequences against behaviour that could lead to physical harm such as throwing things and play wrestling. 2. Maintaining an environment where students feel emotionally safe, where they can participate and learn productively. This involves promoting respect and value for each student, as well as punishment for those who would disrupt this by teasing or personally attacking a student who expresses their point of view.c. accepting professional responsibility for the provision of quality teachingThis means caring enough to put in the time and effort to create interesting and engaging activities,so that a teacher does not just resort to teaching directly from the textbook all the time. Goodteaching involves a lot of time and effort and part of being a professional is putting in that time andeffort.d. having high expectations of every student, recognizing and developing each studentsabilities, skills and talentsIt is very easy to lower expectations for all students, particularly the weaker ones, however it is vitalto maintain high expectations. It’s surprising what students can do if they are faced with achallenge, so even if they do not meet those high expectations they still might something amazing.
e. considering all viewpoints fairlyGive students a chance. If they say they did not do something, may be they did not. This shouldnot become a pattern, but it might mean more respect from students because a teacher listened tothem and believed them.It also means that a teacher should never tell a student that their ideas or opinions are wrong. Evenif the teacher does not agree, that does not mean that they are right and the student is wrong.Every point of view is valid, even if it is not popular.f. communicating well and appropriately with their students.Teachers need to give clear instructions or directions. If more than a few students do notunderstand, it is failure of the teacher not the students. The teacher needs to be explicit, go overeverything and use language the students will understand.It is not permissible to tell students that they are hopeless when they do not understand. Nor is itokay to tell them to shut up. Every student has the right to be spoken to in a respectful manner. Nomatter who they are or what they are doing, the teacher must always try to be calm and respectfulto their students.Principle 1.2: Teachers treat their students with courtesy and dignityTeachers:a. work to create an environment which promotes mutual respectThis means creating good relationships in the class. The teacher needs to encourage respectthrough the promotion of acceptance of multiple viewpoints. They can do this by rewardingrespectful behaviour during class discussions and group work. Including listening to one and other,politely disagreeing, taking turns speaking etc. They can also correct bad behaviour throughfeedback concerning personally attacks, speaking out etc.b. model and engage in respectful and impartial languageA teacher cannot tell students to respect other’s opinions and be polite unless they are willing to doso themselves. Teachers must also model language that they wish students would use. Therefore,they should insist that student do not swear or speak in ways that are appropriate for theclassroom, which can be done by being a good role model.c. protect students from intimidation, embarrassment, humiliation or harmThis can be done via… - expectations via rules and role modeling, which promotes appropriate behaviour - feedback to re-direct behaviour - strict application of consequences if students do not modify behaviour
d. enhance student autonomy and sense of self worth and encourage students to develop andreflect on their own valuesThere needs to be more student centered activities including inquiry learning projects, group workand class discussions. The teacher needs to develop activities that encourage students to thinkabout their opinions and ideas with less focus on getting to the “right” answers. The teacher needsto give the students opportunities to figure things out for themselves and praise thinking andevaluation skills, so that this becomes a natural process and students gain confidence in their ownthoughts and abilities.e. respect a students privacy in sensitive matters, such as health or family problems, andonly reveal confidential matters when appropriate. That is: * if the student has consented to the information being used in a certain way * to prevent or lessen a serious threat to life, health, safety or welfare of a person(including the student) * as part of an investigation into unlawful activity * if the disclosure is required or mandated by law * to prevent a crime or enforce the lawPart of being a teacher involves being privy to some private information about students. In order tomaintain good relations with others this involves keeping the confidence of students. This is similarto the role of other professionals, such as counselors and social workers. However, there are timeswhen these matters must be revealed, such as in times of abuse or harm.f. refrain from discussing students personal problems in situations where the informationwill not be treated confidentiallyThis entails not speaking of student’s private matters in public areas such as the classroom,hallways or staffroom. Additionally, private information should not be discussed with other staff,students or friends. Therefore, a teacher needs to use their discretion and good judgment whenassessing where, when, and with whom, it is appropriate to discuss matters.g. use consequences commensurate with the offence when disciplining studentThis means that the punishment should fit the crime. Therefore, it is not appropriate to assign astudent detention if they get caught talking in class once with no prior instances. If the student getscaught talking once, they should be told to stop interrupting. If they continue, they should bewarned. If the behaviour continues repeatedly then a detention may be warranted.
Principle 1.3: Teachers work within the limits of their professional expertiseIn fulfilling their role, teachers carry out a wide range of responsibilities. They supportstudents by knowing their strengths and the limits of their professional expertise. Teachers:a. seek to ensure that they have the physical, mental and emotional capacity to carry outtheir professional responsibilitiesA teacher’s disposition has a very big impact on student learning. It is imperative that the teachertakes good care of themselves by getting enough sleeping, eating right and exercising. Balance ofwork, life and relaxation is important. It is also important that the teacher seeks help for illness thatmay impact their work. An example of measures to be taken include getting 8 hours of sleep,eating a balanced diet and staying active including going for walks, doing yoga, swimming etc.b. are aware of the role of other professionals and agencies and when students should bereferred to them for assistanceTeachers need to be aware of those who can help them academically including tutors or mentors.They should also have contact information for counselors, social workers or chaplains in case thestudent has a moral or psychological issue. When students are likely to cause serious harm toothers and contacting a psychology professional would not be appropriate, the police or othercorrectional officers should be considered. Additionally, students may need the support of doctorsand other healthcare workers, if they are experiencing health or severe psychological issues.Teachers cannot appropriately deal with all of the issues that a student may experience. It isirresponsible for them to presume that they can. As such, t is important that they refer student tothe right professional who can help.c. are truthful when making statements about their qualifications and competencies.It is not appropriate to overstate or lie about one’s education, work experience or abilities.Principle 1.4: Teachers maintain objectivity in their relationships with studentsIn their professional role, teachers do not behave as a friend or a parent.They:a. interact with students without displaying bias or preferenceStudents pick up on whether the teacher likes them or not. This can impact on how they feel aboutthe subject and the class. It is really important that teacher treats all students equally, so thatpreference is not obvious and that student learning is not affected by how the teacher feels aboutthem.
b. make decisions in students best interestsThe teacher has the interests of their students at heart. They make decisions that benefit theirstudents rather than themselves. The put time into designing a lesson because it will help thestudents learn better, rather than teaching from the textbook, which is less time consuming to planand often less engaging.A teacher’s job is to teach children; therefore, they should always do what is best for those childrenand not themselves or anyone else including parents, principals, colleagues etc.c. do not draw students into their personal agendasStudents should not be used for personal advancement. It is not the job of the teacher to tell thestudent what their personal opinion on a topic is, and they certain should not engage the studentsfurther. For example, they should not voice favouritism for a certain political party and then engagestudents in campaigning. A teacher should not tell students what they think about the conflictbetween Israel and Palestine or between China and Taiwan. If they do, they must be explicit insaying that it is their opinion and be sure to present both sides.If a teacher wants to advance their career by writing and teaching article and intend to use theirclass for data, they need to be clear about what they are doing, ensure that it does not affectstudent learning and seek permission of both the students and their guardians.d. Do not seek recognition at the expense of professional objectivity and goals.Many teachers have hobbies, or jobs, outside of their teaching career. It is important that thesehobbies do not take over, so that one’s ability to teach is inhibited. Also, the teacher should not incompetition to be the “favourite”, the most innovative or other bests that might get in the way ofbeing a present and good teacher.A professional relationship may be compromised if a teacher:a. attends parties or socialises with studentsb. invites a student or students back to their home, particularly if no-one else is present.This makes the relationship too personal, there needs to be a certain separation of personal andwork life. Students should not be privy to too much private information. Additionally, teachersshould not put themselves in a position to commit or be accused of committing misconduct.
Principle 1.5: Teachers are always in a professional relationship with the students in theirschool, whether at school or notTeachers hold a unique position of influence and trust that should not be violated orcompromised. They exercise their responsibilities in ways that recognise that there are limitsor boundaries to their relationships with students. The following examples outline some ofthose limits.A professional relationship will be violated if a teacher:a. has a sexual relationship with a studentb. uses sexual innuendo or inappropriate language and/or material with studentsc. touches a student without a valid reasond. holds conversations of a personal nature, or has contact with a student via written orelectronic means including email, letters, telephone, text messages or chat lines, without avalid contexte. accepts gifts, which could be reasonably perceived as being used to influence them, fromstudents or their parents.Students are not the friends or children of teachers. The teacher must respect the people they areeducating are children, who parents may not want them to be exposed to certain things. There arealso important social boundaries that exist to help a teacher maintain a certain level of objectivityand authority; if these boundaries are crossed then the teacher ability to teach will becompromised.RELATIONSHIPS WITH PARENTS (GUARDIANS, CAREGIVERS), FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIESPrinciple 1.6: Teachers maintain a professional relationship with parents (guardians andcaregivers)Teachers should be respectful of and courteous to parents. Teachers:a. consider parents perspectives when making decisions which have an impact on theeducation or wellbeing of a studentb. communicate and consult with parents in a timely, understandable and sensitive mannerc. take appropriate action when responding to parental concerns.Parents are very important players in education. It is really important to communicate with thembecause there is potential for them to be a great ally in educating their child. They know them best
and can help a teacher learn how to teach them better. Additionally, parents can quite protectiveand pushy, it is important that they know that the teacher is just doing what is best for their child, sothat they become an ally not an obstacle. Communicating often, in a respectful manner withparents, which ensures a good relationship can be the key to ensuring that both parents andteacher are on the same page and ensure a better education for certain students.There may also be times when a parent’s behaviour is detrimental to their child’s learning andwellbeing. These matters need to be dealt with in a private and sensitive manner. If the matter issevere enough it may require the assistance of others in the school or outside services. The goal isthe good of the child not the parent, but often the two are closely connected.Principle 1.7: Teachers work in collaborative relationships with students families andcommunitiesTeachers recognize that their students come from a diverse range of cultural contexts andseek to work collaboratively with students families and communities within those contexts.Teachers need to be aware that students are part of a community, as well as a family. The teachermust take into consideration the needs to the community and the student when planning lessons,as a multicultural community will produce students with different needs and interests then a morehomogeneous one.The teacher must also balance the needs of the child, the parents and the community. Forexample, a student may wish to participate in sexual education, where the parent may object. If thecommunity is one, where there is a lot of youth sexual activity and sexual disease. It may beimportant for the teacher to speak with the parent, as the best interests of the child and thecommunity may be better served by the child engaged in sexual education.RELATIONSHIPS WITH COLLEAGUESPrinciple 1.8: Collegiality is an integral part of the work of teachersTeachers demonstrate collegiality by:a. treating each other with courtesy and respectEven if you do not like someone it is important to be respectful. Everyone is different and everyonehas something unique to contribute. By keeping lines of communication open, it means that onecan learn and benefit from a different perspective.b. valuing the input of their colleaguesTeaching is a science and an art form. Both science and art rely on experience and constructivecritique to improve. Colleagues can be a great resource for improvement, if one is willing to taketheir advice and not see it as a personal attack.c. using appropriate forums for constructive debate on professional matters
Part of being professional involves making ethical judgments. Ethics usually involves considerationof two very valid perspectives and evaluation of priorities before one can make a choice about whatit right for them. Every person has a different perspective and opinion, based different experiences.By sharing and discussing these ideas in a calm and civil way, a teacher can become aware ofthings they had never know or considered before.d. sharing expertise and knowledge in a variety of collaborative contextse. respecting different approaches to teachingf. providing support for each other, particularly those new to the professiong. sharing information relating to the wellbeing of students.Other teachers are often great resources for innovative ways to teach and resources becauseeveryone has a different method and experience. They can provide excellent support when one isdealing with a difficult situation, and each one often sees a student in very different contexts. Assuch, good relationships with other teachers can help one improve his or her teaching practice,become more innovate or deal with a difficult student or situation. Additionally, they can providegreat social support, in the form of a sympathetic ear at the end of a hard day.SECTION 2: PERSONAL CONDUCTPrinciple 2.1: The personal conduct of a teacher will have an impact on the professionalstanding of that teacher and on the profession as a wholeAlthough there is no definitive boundary between the personal and professional conduct of ateacher, it is expected that teachers will:a. be positive role models at school and in the communityb. respect the rule of law and provide a positive example in the performance of civilobligationsc. not exploit their position for personal or financial gaind. ensure that their personal or financial interests do not interfere with the performance oftheir dutiese. act with discretion and maintain confidentiality when discussing workplace issues.These are fairly straightforward. A teacher needs to act ethically, set a good example and nottarnish the good reputation of the profession.
SECTION 3: PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCEPrinciple 3.1: Teachers value their professionalism, and set and maintain high standards ofcompetenceTeachers:a. are knowledgeable in their areas of expertiseNo one can know everything, but it is important that a teacher is knowledgeable about what theyare teaching. They might have to do extensive research before planning and teaching. They willalso have to make an effort to stay up-to-date with their information. This is particularly importantas information changes so fast.b. are committed to pursuing their own professional learningTeachers must attend professional development sessions and engage in their own reflectiveprocess often, so that they can improve their practice.c. complete their duties in a responsible, thorough and timely way.Teachers need to complete reports and other administrative duties completely and on time. Theymust also communicate with parents, give feedback and mark homework or assessments in adecent amount of time. In order for this to effective it must be done is a thorough manner. It is notuseful to provide fast feedback that is not useful (i.e. good job). You must explain what was good,what was not so good and how to improve. A teacher cannot expect students to put time and effortinto their work unless they do the same.Principle 3.2: Teachers are aware of the legal requirements that pertain to their profession.In particular, they are consistent of their legal responsibilities in relation to: * Discrimination, harassment and vilification * Negligence * Mandatory reporting * Privacy * Occupational health and safety * Teacher registration.It is important to stay up to date with the industrial rights and responsibilities of the profession. Theteacher needs to know their duty of care, as well as what to do in situations where there is injury,abuse or other unfortunately incidence that are of a legal nature.