Ethics in the Classroom

Watch out! Your students are looking. At you. Right now.

The most important lessons educators teach do not necessarily happen when they are actually teaching. Do you treat fellow teachers, parents and students with respect? Always? Are you kind? Are you fair?

Ethical behavior is important in everyone – but crucial in teachers.

See, you are in a position of authority. And if kids realize that you can get away with anything just because you are the teacher, not only they will not respect you, they will grow up with thinking that power erases responsibility. And that is a very, very dangerous idea – both ways. On one side, it builds up feeling of helplessness, anger and resentment. On the other, it can lead up to tyranny.

Problems like bullying could be minimized or even prevented if we were always able to shape our behavior by ethics and thoughtfulness. That requires social intelligence and, above all, the capacity for self-containment.

So, how do we instill a moral compass in every student?

School culture matters. A solid framework for moral values should be in place, consistently enforced and with clear expectations. At our school, we have a published policy that reads:

In this school we all respect each other. We are kind, fair and honest. We do no harm and we make things better. We show gratitude and love”

All members of the school community need to adhere to these policies. When problems arise, it is usually because at least one person reacted to conflict by wandering away from this backbone.

It’s more important to acknowledge good behavior than to punish bad one. That said, actions have consequences –it’s a natural law. That is how we build character: by allowing our students to bear the weight of their decisions.

What happens when a student cheats, but he is not held responsible? He will likely read lack of consequences as implicit permission to break the rules or even grow a sense of entitlement – rules do not apply to him. We are not doing that student a favor: Life will take care of teaching, the hard way, the lessons we avoided to give.

We have found that mindfulness and drama are specifically great to learn about self-discipline and empathy. Regularly presenting kids with judgement problems and difficult questions to think about powers up their ethics muscles. There are many opportunities to stimulate learners with such challenges. History lessons could be twice as constructive – and twice as fun- if you not only recount the facts, but also present the moral dilemmas faced by so many people from our past –and present.

Life is unfair, difficult and unpredictable. Bad things happen to good people. Even for those considering themselves privileged, the situation could turn drastically from one day to another. Just ask Marie Antoinette.

Being aware of our own fragility can bring us closer to one another, fostering compassion and respect.

If we want our kids to develop into global citizens, whose strong values are part of the answers the world is seeking, then we need to be those people ourselves.

 

As part of the Top Global Teacher Bloggers from Cathy Rubin’s Global Search for Education, this is my answer to this month’s question: How important is teaching ethics in the classroom? How do we instill a moral compass in every student? How can we work to consistently cultivate values of thoughtfulness and empathy without directly teaching it? What roles do teachers have to play in creating kind and compassionate citizens?

Empowering Young Learners against Fake News

We have trained them to be quiet and attentive in class. We have convinced them that questioning the teacher is the same as being disrespectful. We have tricked them into blindly believing in their textbooks –and, by extension, in almost anything in print. We have told them what to learn and how to do it. We have complimented them for thinking like we do and we have made their lives difficult when they don’t.

And then, when they can’t distinguish facts from bias, when they so easily succumb to fake news, when they believe that being popular and famous is enough proof for reliability, we are shocked. What were we expecting?

As long as we keep looking at schools as the places to transmit “The Knowledge”, we will be perpetuating the belief that people in places of authority should dictate what we know and how we think. Changing schools into crucibles for ideas and educators into patrons for critical thinking skills is an ever unfolding, challenging task. How do we start?

Step down from the shrine. A teacher is not someone who knows a great deal of things and passes them on to passive, ignorant students. The idea of an omniscient, illuminated teacher might appeal to the ego, but will be a disservice for young, untrained minds. Knowledge cannot be simply downloaded from one mind to the other, and human brains are not just data warehouses. When you teach, beware of mind-closing phrases like “this I the way it must be done”. And don’t be afraid of honestly saying “I don’t know the answer to that” from time to time.

Educate yourself. Acquiring a broad array of relevant knowledge is not enough, but it is the first step to becoming an educated citizen and responsible media consumer. If you have your facts straight, it is less likely that you will fall prey into false claims and propaganda. However, students also need the skills to identify reliable sources and properly process the growing amount of incoming information. Educate yourself, and your learners, in media literacy.

Get active. Create awareness about fake news and discuss how they can affect us. Present your students with both authentic and questionable posts and challenge them to tell them apart. Discuss how Facebook and Twitter are not filters, but merely platforms for content. Dig deep into motives and objectives of any published piece and bring them out in classroom debates. We combat fake news and propaganda precisely by exposing our children to them, with guidance and support, and not by hiding, ignoring or minimizing them. It is also crucial that our students stop and think twice before sharing and liking anything they find on social media: if they go ahead with all impulse and little reason, they become part of the problem.

We will never be able to completely shield our learners from all that is misleading and inaccurate in the media, so we better start teaching them how to outsmart the many ones out there who, for any reason, want to dumb them down.

 

As part of the Top Global Teacher Bloggers from Cathy Rubin’s Global Search for Education, this is my answer to this month’s question: How to we teach young people the rigorous critical thinking and research skills to distinguish news from propaganda? How do we ensure the next generation is one which communicates civically, values honesty, and recognizes reality?

The Best Holiday Gifts for Your Students: Top Global Teacher Bloggers

Originally posted By  on Dec 24, 2016: Top Global Teacher Bloggers

2016-12-21-1482296833-4746560-cmrubinworldTGTB_December500.jpgThe Holidays are such a special time of year! Our lives take on a larger meaning as we think about our family, our extended family and our long-lost friends. It’s a time of giving and reflection.

Our Global Teacher Bloggers are pioneers and innovators in fields such as technology integration, mathematics coaching, special needs education, science instruction, and gender equity. They have founded schools, written curricula, and led classrooms in 13 different countries that stretch across every populated continent on earth. These teachers empower and enrich the lives of young people from nearly every background imaginable.

Today in The Global Search for Education, our Top Global Teacher Bloggers share their answers to this month’s question: What’s the best gift you would recommend for your students this holiday season?

“The technological gift that I wish for every student,” writes Adam Steiner (@steineredtech), “is to find a platform for giving voice to their passions and to feel that their voice is heard. When we give students the power to be creators, we give them confidence; we give students their digital voice and a source of internal strength to use it.” Read More.

“The best gift I would love all my students to have is the ability to find peace inside themselves,” writes Elisa Guerra (@ElisaGuerraCruz), “regardless of what is going on outside. Then, no matter how dark the world might get, their souls will always find a way to shine.” Read More.

“As we reflect on the year, it’s also important to reflect on exactly who we each are, our strengths, our weaknesses, our assumptions, and our truths,” writes Richard Wells (@EduWells). “A mirror might remind students to consider these points and in turn, remind their school that without formally recognising the importance of reflection and rationalised thought, learning is shallow and facts go unchallenged.” Read More.

Maarit Rossi (@pathstomath) recommends the blog of Kirsti Savikko, Headteacher in Kähäri school, Turku, Finland, who writes: “So what do I tell my students to do during the holiday? Play games? Perhaps. Get some rest? Sleep late? Forget the school? Read some extra? Reread the subjects? This list could also be quite long. But what I really would like to give them is a gift. Not just any gift or present wrapped in a silver paper. The gift of dreaming…” Read More.

“Every elementary teacher, history teacher, science teacher, and English teacher should engage learners in activities in which they distinguish between real and fake news, reputable social media posts and disreputable ones, credible author credentials and false ones, hard news or op-eds,” writes Todd Finley (@finleyt) in Greenville, North Carolina. “Democracy is humankind’s highest aspiration. Gift students with the tools to preserve it.” Read More.

“While gifts are fun, when not everybody has them,” writes Miriam Mason-Sesay (@EducAidSL), “it creates a two-tier society where some are left out and only some feel special. We will be encouraging all of our young people to do kind things instead of giving gifts and the gift they will receive in turn will be the peace of mind that comes with being loving and generous.” Read More.

“Children are our future,” writes Rashmi Kathuria (@rashkath). “We feel happy when they are happy. In India we celebrate all festivals. Here, the summer break is the longest break. In general for a holiday season we tell our students to enjoy to the fullest and spend good time with family and friends.” Rashmi’s many gift recommendations include “a lesson of empathy and humanity so that they can be a part of beautiful, peaceful, healthy and harmonious world” and “getting connected on social networking sites, sharing pictures and news.” Read More.

Warren Sparrow (@wsparrowsa) has many wishes students around the world. He says, “be encouraged to take the chance and learn something new today, do not be afraid to go against the main stream and actually be prepared to work, embrace different cultures, people and encourage diversity, do something for other people, do not just think of yourself, be proud of what you could possibly achieve, have a goal and strive to achieve it, be kind to others, you do not know what baggage they are carrying…” Read More.

“To give that “one gift” you need to know the child,” writes Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) from Camilla, Georgia. “Look at what they love and help them create and investigate. Give them a gift that stokes the flame of curiosity and sparks their imagination. When you give gifts that spur kids on from consumer to a creator, they’ll become more curious.” Read More.

“If we could learn from frost and snow and try to provide different opportunities for our kids to experience magic, to foster creativity and to simply play outside, it would be the greatest gift for them this holiday season,” writes Dana Narvaiša (@dana_narvaisa). Check out the creativity that students from Cesis New school are enjoying outdoors. Read More.

“This holiday season, I wanted presents that would last longer than a few hours and hopefully inspire the recipients throughout the New Year,” writes Blogger at Large Beth Holland (@brholland). “These seemed like fantastic options to achieve that goal.” Beth’s suggestions include “Kiwi Crate,” which aims to inspire a new generation of “scientists, artists, and makers,” and the “Extraordinaires Design Studio.” Read More.

“The average income in Brownsville is $28,000 ($11,000 in the housing projects), this can also create an emotional burden on our scholars from peer pressure when they return from winter vacation without something new and fancy,” writes Nadia Lopez (@TheLopezEffect). “I wanted to make sure that my scholars came back renewed from the holiday break and ready to invest in their learning, which is how I came up with creating t-shirt designs that would serve to empower each of them on a daily basis.” Read More.

The Top Global Teacher Bloggers is a monthly series where educators across the globe offer experienced yet unique takes on today’s most important topics. CMRubinWorld utilizes the platform to propagate the voices of the most indispensable people of our learning institutions – teachers.

(Photo is courtesy of CMRubinWorld)

2016-07-25-1469487170-9954573-cmrubinworldtopglobalteacherbloggers_headshots500.jpgTop Row, left to right: Adam Steiner, Santhi Karamcheti, Pauline Hawkins2nd Row: Elisa Guerra, Humaira Bachal, C M Rubin, Todd Finley, Warren Sparrow3rd Row: Nadia Lopez, Katherine Franco Cardernas, Craig Kemp,
Rashmi Kathuria, Maarit Rossi
Bottom Row: Dana Narvaisa, Richard Wells, Vicki Davis, Miriam Mason-Sesay GSE-logo-RylBlu

C. M. Rubin is the author of two widely read online series for which she received a 2011 Upton Sinclair award, “The Global Search for Education” and “How Will We Read?” She is also the author of three bestselling books, including The Real Alice in Wonderland, is the publisher of CMRubinWorld, and is a Disruptor Foundation Fellow.

Worst Christmas, Best Gift

Some years ago I almost had the worst Christmas ever.

I won’t get into details, but there were many things going wrong.

Life is not always easy and Christmas is not always merry. And when lots of things are not going your way, it’s easy to loose sight of the ones that are.

Then, just four days before Christmas, on my birthday, my 16-year- old daughter gave me a little present. I opened the neatly wrapped box to find a framed picture of both of us, a remembrance of a trip to New York in brighter times. Over the glass covering the photo she had written a message in permanent marker: “It gets better”. And included hugs and kisses: XOXO. I realized that things were gray but not pitch dark. I was fortunate in still many other ways. Annie’s gift gave me perspective.

Annie's giftThat picture, and that phrase, got me through Christmas. It did get better. Over time, much, much better. There have been other hard moments since then, of course, and the little framed picture has always worked its magic. My daughter had taught me a lesson on resilience.

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! When most people say these phrases, they want to convey their good wishes for prosperity and well being. But, what happens when the world around you is dark? Difficult times do not usually take a break for the holidays. Sometimes they even get worse, precisely in December.

Did you know that suicide rates actually rise over Christmas?

This season, some of my kids from school will be mourning a lost grandparent or older sibling. Another one will be dealing with her parent’s ongoing divorce. Some families will be struggling financially.

I think about my students and all the stories I know – and the ones I don’t – and although I can’t wrap up resilience and present it as a gift to them, I wish that they, too, had a nice framed picture of themselves and precise words to remind them how special and strong they are. It doesn’t matter if most of them are not going trough a storm just right now –sooner or later, they will.

There’s something powerful about being able to see yourself at your best. Somehow, it kind of shows you the way back there. Heartfelt words like “You are able to achieve your dreams”, “Life is tough, but you are tougher”, “You are talented and bright” and “This is you, at your best” can really work wonders. At least, they did for me.

The best gift I would love all my students to have is the ability to find peace inside themselves – regardless of what is going on outside. Then, no matter how dark the world might get, their souls will always find a way to shine.


As part of Cathy Rubin’s Top Global Teacher Bloggers, this is my answer for this month’s question: What’s the best gift you would recommend for your students this holiday season?

Helping our students embrace diversity

The first step to accept and embrace diversity is knowledge.

We human beings are wired to detect and act upon whatever could threaten our existence. This comes as part of our survival instinct. If we hear a sudden, loud noise, we jump in fear. For a split second, we don’t know if the sound comes from a firing gun or worse – and our whole body prepares for flight or fight. Then we realize it was just a truck exhaust and we sigh in relief, our heart still pounding furiously inside or chests. But knowledge rises above instinct, and as we know it’s highly unlikely that this particular truck is set to kill us (unless of course we are to find ourselves crushed under its wheels), we disregard the threat and keep on to our business.

DiversityAnything that we don’t know well could be a potential risk – not just for our lives but also for our ways of living. Human beings are cautious or even up-front reluctant about whatever is unknown or different. Including other people!

So, How can you help students accept and work well with people of different beliefs, cultures, languages, socio-economic statuses, education backgrounds, and learning styles? Here are some ideas.

Open their world – and you will open their minds. Get them to know and ultimately respect as many different cultures as possible. Don’t neglect to explore your own community as well.

Create the environment. Even in very homogeneous schools, some diversity will always arise. But our school environment could be one that crushes it down – for example, presenting one single viewpoint as the truth, discouraging open discussion about certain issues or favoring just one approach to learning. Be open, inclusive and caring.

Set the example. If you have a preference for working with certain type of students, if you loose your patience with the slower kid in your class, if you openly dislike a colleague or parent, if you are biased in any way, even if you don’t say a word, it will show.

Don’t force it. Don’t think that you are doing a favor to the odd kid in class by forcing his classmates to work with him. It might be even worse. Instead, plan projects in which students can either work alone, in pairs or small groups. Offer incentives to those collaborating and creating new alliances: Bonus points if they team up with different classmates every project!

Act it up. Drama and storybooks are wonderful to create awareness for diversity. Cast your students in roles that are different and challenging. Encourage them to try to “become” the personage by actively exploring the feelings and beliefs behind the costume.Diversity flags

Empathy is an art. I like Harvard’s Artful Thinking Tools from Project Zero. The protocol called “Circle of viewpoints” specifically promotes exploring multiple perspectives to a problem by actively analyzing a work of art.

Above all, engage in caring relationships with your students. This will make them feel accepted and safe – which in turn will give them the confidence to venture outside of their own limits and work well with others – no matter how different they might be.

 

This is my answer to this month’s question for The Global Search for Education: Top Global Teacher Bloggers.

Becoming global citizens

What are the important skills, behaviors, and attitudes that students need to become contributing global citizens? That is the question posted this month to the Top Global Teacher Bloggers – a group I am honored to be a part of. This is my answer.

Global Citizenship students Becoming contributing global citizens

To develop children into global citizens, we must let go of the traditional view of school as the place were knowledge is loaded into kid’s brains –however inefficiently- and then pass them on to higher education -or society- to continue with yet another step in the process for mass-produced humanoids. Here are four ways to challenge this view.

You don’t need to know everything. Which is not the same as to say that you are fine knowing nothing. We all need core knowledge, and now in ever increasing areas (technology, government issues, human rights and ecology pop from the top of my head) – but the era in which those who knew the most were the best is rapidly wearing off. The same rationale applies for teachers. We are no longer (and really, we never were) the all-knowing gurus with all the right answers. Any over-confident teacher could be easily and embarrassingly defeated by a child with a device connected to internet. Even if you are an educator savant, there is just no way you can beat Google.

Critical thinking skills are, well, critical. In the age of information overload, the real challenge is to be able to unravel the true and valuable from the garbage and inaccurate. Let our school days be full of the “structured serendipity” that will foster creative and disciplined minds.

You need to grow a larger sense of belonging. How can you embrace the fascinating diversity of the world without neglecting your own culture? How can you expand your mind to accommodate different viewpoints and ideas, without compromising your values? Cognitive humility can liberate us from isolating, self-serving bias –but it doesn’t come naturally. We need to incorporate failure into the teaching equation –there is much to be learned when things don’t go your way. Tolerance and empathy flourish. Being wrong reminds us of our frail humanity – and being human is what unites us all.

Global citizenship kids

The right to share the world we live in comes with responsibility. There is no such a thing as a free ride for a true global citizen. Many of the world’s problems come from the arrogance of humans and their sense of entitlement. “I am the King of the Universe and everything should always come my way. I am better than the rest so I deserve more” If we came to understand how limited and minuscule we really are –and at the same time, how precious and valuable each life is- we could do a better job of taking care of our planet and its inhabitants.

Children’s most significant and enduring learning will come from observing the world and people around them. The first step to help them become global citizens is to make sure we are already on that road ourselves.

The Global Search for Education: Top Global Teacher Bloggers – How do we inspire the best and the brightest to become educators?

This article was posted originally in The Global Search for Education

by CM Rubin

2016-06-26-1466905169-1931934-cmrubinworld_TGTB_June500.jpgThe role of teachers is paramount to raising educational standards around the globe. In countries such as Finland, Singapore and South Korea, teachers are recruited from the most qualified graduates, are highly trained, respected and paid well. But that’s not the case in every country. According to Mckinsey’s “Closing the Talent Gap: Attracting and Retaining Top-Third Graduates to Careers in Teaching”, in the United States for example, only 23 percent of new teachers come from the top third, and just 14 percent are in high poverty schools, where the difficulty of attracting and retaining talented teachers is particularly acute. If nations are serious about attracting the best talent to educate their children, they clearly need to improve the value proposition to potential candidates.

Our Global Teacher Bloggers are pioneers and innovators in fields such as technology integration, mathematics coaching, special needs education, science instruction, and gender equity. They have founded schools, written curricula, and led classrooms in 13 different countries that stretch across every populated continent on earth. These teachers empower and enrich the lives of young people from nearly every background imaginable.

Today in The Global Search for Education, our Top Global Teacher Bloggers share their answers to this month’s question: How do we inspire the best and brightest to become educators?

The short answer to our question for Miriam Mason-Sesay (@EducAidSL) in Sierra Leone is to “engage young people in a new paradigm. If success is defined in terms of being human; if success is defined in terms of how many people have I had a positive impact on through my ways of being and dealing with them; if success is defined in terms of have I made the world a better place by the ways I treat others and live my life, then there is an excitement about being part of the only profession where we can truly change the life chances of hundreds of young people.” Read More.

Maarit Rossi (@pathstomath) offers crucial insight into the question, being from Finland–arguably the country with the best teachers in the world. She thinks it boils down to simple concepts like: “respect of the profession, flexibility of the curriculum, teachers’ high level of education and autonomy of teaching methods.” In Finland, there are no school inspectors nor national tests. Teachers themselves are trusted to observe and evaluate their students. “I make my own tests or make them together with a colleague. We don’t give much homework.” Read more.

“Within the most challenging schools there are educators whose love for what they do can be infectious because they see value of impacting the lives of children,” says Nadia Lopez (@TheLopezEffect) whose school is in one of New York’s low income neighborhoods where recruiting and keeping skilled teachers is very difficult. Check out Nadia’s top tips to attract the best and brightest to a career in education: Read more.

Adam Steiner’s blog (@steineredtech) is inspired by the award-winning book, Professional Capital (Authors Andy Hargreaves @HargreavesBC and Michael Fullan @MichaelFullan1). Professional Capital recognized that teaching cannot be scripted and emphasized collective responsibility and shared success as key to school success. Steiner notes that the lessons of Professional Capital identify “key factors in recruiting and retaining the best teachers”: Read more.

Pauline Hawkins (@PaulineDHawkins) asserts “American teachers are scapegoats for everything wrong with our society.” So how does Pauline suggest we bring respect to the profession? The first step in her multiple step process is “getting rid of the ridiculous evaluation system based on standardized tests and tied to teacher pay. Master teachers know that their true effectiveness cannot be measured by a test.” Read more.

“It starts with us! The people in education right now!” says Craig Kemp (@mrkempnz) who believes that part of the problem is the media tends to show the hardships of being an educator. Craig, who credits his Mum for his passion to teach, says educators must promote and share what they do in positive ways. “One comment can influence someone to become a teacher.” Read more.

Rashmi Kathuria (@rashkath) from India notes, “Teaching is not just a job from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. It is a time consuming job even after regular school hours.” When teachers go home they don’t usually get to relax; teachers prepare assignments, do corrections, and work at home preparing lesson plans. They also, “take up online self-professional development from home.” Rashmi recommends incentives for teachers who do extraordinary work such as “a subsidized internet connection to work from home and remain connected with students through their blogs/wikis/online classrooms.” Read more.

“There are no magic tricks” says Dana Narvaisa (@dana_narvaisa) from Latvia who shares experiences from her own journey. “If you’re a leader in your twenties or thirties, you’re looking for growth, you’re looking for mentors, for role models. To get the best and brightest to become educators, they need at least a few more like-minded people on their team for long term success.” Read More.

Money and common sense are key, notes Todd Finley (@finleyt) quoting Stanford Professor Linda Darling-Hammond: “Nearly all of the vacancies currently filled with emergency teachers could be filled with talented, well-prepared teachers if 40,000 service scholarships of up to $25,000 each were offered annually” to offset teacher education costs based on merit. Curriculum that’s too focused on standardized test scores is “soul killing” and evaluation by VAM Scores should immediately stop. “To attract teachers, we need the public will to support service scholarships, increase pay, stop over-testing, and terminate verifiably wrong-headed evaluation practices.” Read more.

Richard Wells (@EduWells) takes a different approach to the question. “I believe it makes for a more positive debate when people discuss the potential growth of current teachers, than that of asking: ‘how do we attract better people?” So how does New Zealand build the best and the brightest teachers? Read more.

Katherine Franco Cardenas (@ProfKaterineFra) of Colombia writes for The Global Search for Education in her native language of Spanish and believes that, “one way to inspire the best and brightest to become an educator lies in providing the opportunity for direct interaction with teachers making a difference in the context in which they operate.” It’s important for teachers to meet inspiring educators to serve as a role model for how an educator can make a positive effect on their communities. Read More.

The Top Global Teacher Bloggers is a monthly series where educators across the globe offer experienced yet unique takes on today’s most important topics. CMRubinWorld utilizes the platform to propagate the voices of the most indispensable people of our learning institutions, teachers.

For more information.

2016-06-26-1466905191-2913254-cmrubinworldtopglobalteacherbloggers_headshots5001.jpgTop Row, left to right: Adam Steiner, Santhi Karamcheti, Pauline Hawkins2nd Row: Elisa Guerra, Humaira Bachal, C. M. Rubin, Todd Finley,
Warren Sparrow
3rd Row: Nadia Lopez, Katherine Franco Cardernas, Craig Kemp,
Rashmi Kathuria, Maarit Rossi
Bottom Row: Dana Narvaisa, Richard Wells, Vicki Davis, Miriam Mason-Sesay 

(All photos are courtesy of CMRubinWorld)

GSE-logo-RylBlu

C. M. Rubin is the author of two widely read online series for which she received a 2011 Upton Sinclair award, “The Global Search for Education” and “How Will We Read?” She is also the author of three bestselling books, including The Real Alice in Wonderland, is the publisher of CMRubinWorld, and is a Disruptor Foundation Fellow.