Richard Therrien Position Statement Ethics for School Administrators
As I review the Connecticut Code of Professional Responsibility for School Administrators, and reflect on my own beliefs, I find many common threads. The most important value that any administrator should hold sacred above all others is the safety of the students entrusted in their care. The case study discussion points out the dangers inherent when an administrator loses sight of this; the welfare of the children become secondary to other concerns. In my mind, safety of students encompasses such issues as physical safety, reporting of abuse, protecting students from discrimination, and making the schools a nurturing, welcome, and safe environment. As a science administrator, I find I often encounter this by coming across situations in which teachers have not though about the physical safety of students asked to perform dangerous experiments, as well as teachers who verbally insult, and degrade students. If a student is not safe, or does not feel safe, then they cannot learn. As an administrator, this means I have responsibility for all students under my care, and that means I have a responsibility to know what is going on, both in the classrooms and in the hallways.
The statement found in the code expresses the sentiment that the student is the reason for the existence of the profession is my primary belief. From lesson planning, to designing curriculum, to aligning goals, to PPTs, to staffing, budgeting and scheduling, students should come first. Although I carry with me the understanding that administrators have responsibilities towards parents, community, and staff as well, it is still foremost that every decision that is made by myself as an administrator has to carry with it the reason, or the way in which it will benefit our clients. Sometimes that may mean going against the wishes of a particular staff member, or parent. (“No, Mr. B, next year you will teach in Room 403 because that has better lab space for students, even if it is farther from your desk” or “No, Mrs. M, your child is better off in the academic level class because the teacher can better meet her needs”). However, holding to the student standard, I believe, is the only way in which an administrator can be consistent and be effective.
I was heartened to re read in the code the section about holding administrators to a higher standard. The idea is important that administrators have accepted a higher level of responsibility and should hold themselves, and their staff, students, and organization to high standards. By actively demonstrating their daily acceptance of high standards, administrators model the behavior they want in their staff and students. The quote that I often use is “I expect nothing more of you than I expect of myself”. That goes from preparing for class, making lesson plans, meeting higher order thinking goals all the way to parent and community interactions and communications. I suppose it is simply a restatement of the Golden Rule of “do unto others”, but it takes a greater meaning as an educational leader. It could be called integrity, fairness, or simply lack of hypocrisy, but I really see it as my guiding principle. Since I set my own standards usually higher than what I am currently achieving, this means I expect myself to always be striving to improve. That means that the students I work with, the staff I work with, the school and organization should be always striving to improve, and I should be helping them do it. If something I am doing is not aiming towards that goal, then I am doing something wrong.