Your professional integrity is one of the most important parts of your teaching career. Integrity and professionalism is the glue that holds competent, strong schools together. There’s no doubt that you will encounter situations that make you question what you think you know about being a professional and a learning leader but maintaining your integrity will make you a respected teacher, valued by colleagues, students, and their parents alike.
1. Do the right thing
As an educator, you will often be caught in a situation that challenges your patience, your good will, or your belief in what you are doing as a teacher.
We all want to do the right thing, but sadly, many teachers fall victim to a power complex with the lure of climbing the leadership ladder on the horizon. Prevent yourself by getting caught up with the power and political issues within your school, and check that you are doing the right thing. Critically explore the new strategies and fads that come around, remembering the impact this could have on your students. Remove yourself from situations where colleagues are being ‘thrown under the bus’, and do the right thing for them rather than being sucked into lies, deception and misinterpretations.
2. Believe in all your students
It might be a challenge facing that group of Year 9’s on a wet Wednesday afternoon, but each student in that space is unique, gifted, and (despite what they are displaying) wanting to succeed. They all have their own little quirks and characteristics, so look for the good nature in each and every one of them. By being genuine and enthusiastic about your subject, and being genuine to them will gain their respect along with engaging in your teaching as you guide them to achieve to their potential.
3. Take responsibility
Being trustworthy, being honest, and being authentic are key traits of true professional integrity, but also accepting your own mistakes without passing the blame to others takes courage within itself. It’s not always easy to take responsibility for things that happen, but it is the right thing to do. People with strong professional integrity choose to do the right thing, even when it’s hard. Taking responsibility is not a cue to beat yourself up when things don’t go right, but should be viewed as an opportunity to learn from the experience to allow personal growth.