It may be a controversial topic to discuss but teachers teach values in their classrooms every day, whether a parent or teacher agrees with the idea of value teaching or not. The dictionary defines values as: a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.
Teaching values, it is often stated, is advantageous as long as the values do not interfere with religious or personal beliefs. Of course, everyone’s values may not be the same. What should you do as a teacher? The things important in your life may not match the values of one or more of your students and the moral code of the families in your classroom will not always be the same. However, there are some values that are nearly universal – but may not be totally universal. For example, it would seem that everyone believes kindness is a value worth displaying and emulating, but there are those who will say kindness is a sign of weakness. One might believe honesty and fairness are universal values as well, but some may ask who decides what is fair? For this reason, teachers must be careful when “teaching values” in the classroom. Of course, it is vital that the values you hold true should not be compromised as you teach your students each day. For example, you have a right to be kind to your students even if one of the parents believe it would be a sign of weakness.
There are, however, several values that every teacher should possess, including integrity. You are not only a teacher but a leader as well. If you as a classroom leader are not willing to display these values, there may be a question of your fitness to be a teacher. In addition, teachers are expected to be mindful of their actions both inside and outside of the classroom. Whether you agree or not, there are some things that are not acceptable for a teacher, even though it might be okay for a non-teacher.
The following core values for all teachers will help them become outstanding teachers, leaders, and role models for their students in and out of the classroom:
Integrity: Students know when a teacher is not “real”. The best teachers are honest with their students and are the same person inside and outside of the classroom. When a teacher is committed to their responsibilities, students and parents can sense this and will react positively. On the other hand, when a teacher pretends to know it all and thinks of themselves as perfect or above their students, he or she will lose the respect of their students. The teacher with integrity will have the respect of the community.
Hope: There will be students who walk into your classroom each day feeling hopeless, and it will have nothing to do with you or the school. Unfortunately, home or community circumstances can lead a child to feel hopeless about their future. All students need a sense of hope. They need to know there is a brighter future ahead, and even though they may need to work harder than a peer, the teacher must reinforce this sense of hope. A teacher cannot give up on a student. The teacher and school must adapt to the student’s circumstances, whether it is a different learning style or issues at home. They must take steps to ensure that the child remains hopeful for their future.
Importance of Learning: Every teacher must value learning for all. The students in your classroom need to see that it is important for them to learn. Learning leads to opportunity, and every student who sees the importance of learning will be more inclined to continue to want to learn. Teachers cannot minimize the question many older students may ask: Why do we need to learn this stuff? The response cannot be: Because you have a test on it tomorrow. The best teachers will share their own values about learning, and how they are still open to learning new things every day.
Respect and Responsibility: The teacher with integrity will earn the respect of students and parents, but teachers must respect their students as well. Parents or caretakers trust that teachers will care for their students, even if they do not show it with words or actions. With this respect comes responsibility for the teacher – meaning that the teacher is responsible for the learning and teaching process of the students.
The actual teaching of values in the classroom as a lesson may not always be possible for every teacher, but as teachers exhibit the values of integrity, hope, learning, respect, and responsibility, students will be exposed to these important values and will hopefully emulate them in their own