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Webinar Makes Case for Educator Candidates to Understand Legal, Ethical Expectations

Did you miss AACTE’s webinar last month on what teacher candidates need to know about the intersection of educator dispositions, ethics, and law? Don’t worry – you can watch the recording at your convenience in AACTE’s Resource Library. You’ll find it, along with the presentation slides, here.

david thompson
David Thompson, University of Texas – San Antonio
troy hutchings
Troy Hutchings, Educational Testing Service

Presenters David Thompson of the University of Texas at San Antonio and Troy Hutchings of the Educational Testing Service opened their presentation with a case study that illustrated the complexity of factors at play not only in teacher-student relationships, but also in teacher-supervisor and other adult interactions. They discussed different frameworks that can guide teachers’ decision making and how teachers might reconcile conflicts between these frameworks to “navigate the gray areas.”

Professional dispositions, for example, emphasize attitudes and values centered on an ethos of care, which can become a liability risk without clear boundaries. Research shows that educators often struggle with the dilemma of negotiating boundaries for their interactions, Thompson and Hutchings explained, and this lack of clarity manifests itself in a variety of negative ways, from reluctance to report or discuss questionable incidents to protracted and painful disciplinary investigations. What may be surprising is that many of these dilemmas are with other licensed educators – colleagues or administrators – showing a need for a common framework and norms for professional decision making.

Both presenters are actively involved in advising state and national efforts to codify and promote these norms. Thompson previewed his large-scale research under way on teacher disciplinary orders in Texas and discussed trends in the state’s investigations into inappropriate educator-student relationships in recent years. Hutchings highlighted the recently developed Model Code of Ethics for Educators, for which he served as a subject matter expert, as a promising step toward developing common understandings of professional ethics at the national level.

Approximately 60 participants joined the webinar’s live presentation October 20. AACTE is grateful to Thompson and Hutchings for sharing their expertise with us!

Selected resources for further information:

  • Model Code of Ethics for Educators website (National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification)
  • ProEthica website customized for teacher educators
  • Webinar recording: Preparing Preservice Educators in Ethical Decision Making Using Innovative Instructional Strategies and Assessment
  • AACTE Topical Action Group “Teacher Education as a Moral Community”

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    Kristin McCabe

    Editor, AACTE

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