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Professional Decision Making Model

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1 Professional Decision Making Model
By Tara Hicks

2 Inner Landscape As an individual, I have always been very compassionate and understanding of the people in my life as a result of coming from a very open, caring, empathetic and strongly connected family. I have been surrounded by people who have taught me the importance of building relationships and being appreciative of the diversity in relationships we have with others. I have always looked for the strengths and potential in the people I meet. I am concerned for the welfare of others, and value the importance of relationships in my own life, and how they have shaped me into who I am today. Healthy relationships may also contribute to shaping other aspects of peoples lives, and with the support of different relationships they may find it within themselves to build confidence and pursue goals knowing that they have the concern and support of others. My ultimate goal in teaching is to build healthy school based relationships by taking the time to understand the needs of my students and learn how to build on their strengths. Ethical teaching practices in regards to school based relationships will provide students the opportunity to learn in a judgement free classroom. I firmly believe that if we are open to the diversity of people in our society, we will develop appreciation and understanding of the different needs of each individual. When making ethical decisions that affect individuals within my care, I feel my understanding and concerned nature will help me make sure all parties are cared for and respected in regards to the issues that play a key role in the challenges I will be faced with in the classroom.

3 Relevance The relevance of me valuing school based relationships along with being empathetic and considerate of diverse needs, plays an important role in both the classroom and when making tough decisions. Without establishing relationships with the school community, I am at risk for not understanding the students in my care. Considering my inner landscape, I believe the values I possess will help me make decisions that are both ethical and considerate of people and their needs. Being empathetic and caring by nature, I put myself in the shoes of the individual faced with issues, and it helps me understand what it would feel like to be faced with tough decisions. I hold firm the importance of the relationships in my life and those people who provide support and advice when necessary. Building school based relationships will make it comfortable for me to turn to this network when faced with difficult decisions, as I am confident they will help me consider options that pertain to the issues I will be dealing in the teaching profession. The decision making model I developed not only aligns with my own beliefs, but acts in the best interest of the students both ethically and thoughtfully.

4 Principles of Ethical Decision Making
Based on my strong belief in being understanding and concerned for the best interest of the student in all situations, three approaches closely relate to my beliefs in ethical decision making. The first approach is the Justice Approach. “Treat people the same unless there are morally relevant differences between them.” This approach focuses on how fairly or unfairly our actions distribute benefits and burdens among the members of a group, and how fairness requires consistency in the way people are treated. The second approach that aligns with my own decision making is the Utilitarian Approach. “Of any two actions, the most ethical one will produce the greatest balance of benefits over harms.” This approach focuses on consequences that actions or policies have on the well-being (“utility” of all persons directly or indirectly affected by the action of policy). This approach is congruent to my belief that there is always more than one solution to difficult situations, but acting on the best interest of the people involved will result in the most ethical decision. The third approach is the Virtue Approach. “What is ethical is what develops moral virtues in ourselves and our communities.” This approach focuses on attitudes, dispositions, or character traits that enable us to be and to act in ways that develop our potential. As a future educator, building professional school based relationships will allow me the opportunity to get to know teachers and students on a more personal level, and learn of their interests, family background and different characteristics in relation to different issues I will be dealing with in the profession.

5 BCTC/TRB/BCTF In regards to ethical decision making, it is important to develop a model or steps to follow that will lead to the best possible solution for all parties involved. According to Berlak & Berlak, “Teaching is a complicated profession given that its practice is often marked by conflicting societal, institutional, emotional, and personal forces making it imperative that educators be able to successfully negotiate this complex terrain by exercising their critical judgements.” Taking from that, Teaching will have moments of complexity regarding issues of ethics and professional decision making, so my Professional Decision Making Model will help me make decisions in my teaching practice that not only best suit difficult and often tough situations, but suit the needs of the students in a justly manner. My decisions will reflect ethical codes and standards within our education system. When I am teaching I will be following two mandatory documents within our BC education System. The first document of ethical standards from The Teachers Regulation Branch (TRB) and the second, Code of Ethics from the British Columbia Teacher’s Federation (BCTF). As teachers, it is important to be ethical, honest and caring when it comes to making decisions that could impact the well-being of students. What makes someone a professional decision maker? I believe it is one who looks at issues from all perspectives and is confident with pursuing and standing up for the rights of the individual, and being open to work through any situation with professionalism. The professional aspect relates strongly to following BCTC, TRB and BCTF standards and codes, and thoughtfully consider and implement these standards and codes into teaching practices.

6 Reconciliations Building strong school based relationships is important to me, but I will have to struggle with the idea that I may not be able to reach each individual student throughout my career, and have to reconcile with the idea that I will still reach students, but it would be impossible to reach all. I should be concerned with the quality of those I have reached on a deeper, more meaningful level, rather than reach many only on a surface level not really helping students in difficult situations or engaging in meaningful discussions. I must also reconcile with not knowing all of the politics involved in the teaching profession but will have to trust that decisions made by the union and ministry will benefit both teacher and student alike. Another reconciliation I feel is important to pursue is the idea of professionalism and what it means to me. I am going to have to respect and trust in colleagues to follow the standards and ethics of our system and will have to reconcile with the idea that not all teachers follow these standards and act in unprofessional demeanor, and I may be faced with making ethical decisions based on the values I hold about being a professional.

7 9 Decision making steps 1. Identify the controversial issue
be aware of the difficulties and complexity of the issue 2. Gather sources of evidence Make sure facts are relevant and correct 3. Develop options look at all ethical choices that concern those involved 4. Consult with teaching professionals discuss my options and collaborate ideas, always being mindful of BCTF codes and TRB Standards 5. Choose a course of action Professional and thoughtful amount of time and research to make best possible ethical decision concerning the welfare of the student Consider the consequences Be prepared for implications of decisions 7. Implement ethical decision Be confident about making the best suited ethical decision for the specific situation Monitor/ modify implementation Make sure the decision made is improving the situation, and if not, look at the situation and make changes 9. Reflect on Decision making Think about how this issue could be prevented in the future

8 Professional Decision Making Model
Identify the issue Gather sources of evidence Develop options Consult with teaching professionals Choose a course of action Consider the consequences Implement ethical decision Monitor/modify implementation Reflect on decision making

9 Summary The decisions I will make as an educator will reflect my empathetic, caring teaching practices, along with the support of a well developed plan of action for when tough decisions should arise in the field. I know I will be faced with issues in the school system that I may not find easy solutions for, but I can trust in my own values and principles that I already follow to guide me through the steps to successful outcomes. Being aware and reflective of the decisions I make in the future will help me reconsider certain choices I have made, or didn’t make, and think of ways to prevent issues from occurring. I have to remember to act ethically and honestly and follow through with my tough decisions, as it will allow me to grow as a learner in the teaching profession. The model I have developed can easily be modified if I see fit, as changes may occur depending on different situations, but the importance in developing the model is that it prepares me for the unpredictability of teaching and allows me to find the best solutions to tough and often controversial issues.

10 References Berlak, A., & Berlak, H. (1981). Dilemmas of schooling. London: Meuthen. A Framework for Universal Principles of Ethics by Larry Colero, Crossroads Programs Inc

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