Week 5

Be Ethical!!

Professional ethics is defined as the personal and corporate rules that govern behavior within the context of a particular profession. Being an instructor, colleague, mentor and friend to many people within the college, it’s important for me to portray professionalism. Each and every day I structure myself to stay positive, energetic, compassionate, honest and reliable. Although this becomes difficult at times, I try to stay focused on my goals and fight through each battle with integrity.

Why is this important? People in my life want to feel respected. So I believe it’s important for me to respect everyone that crosses my path. Even if we don’t see eye to eye. Creating a welcoming and positive atmosphere builds trust and happiness, which I believe are important traits to have while maintaining my personal and professional life.

At times we all deal with difficult ethical situations, where we try our best to fix the problem but realize it’s out of “boundaries” to do so. No matter the problem we cannot control the outcome. Recently I was removed from a curriculum development project because my project manager didn’t like my personality. I found this to be a very harsh “slap in the face”, considering I did more work beyond my original scope. Everyone in my department said that his statement was not an ethical thing to tell someone. Even if there was truth behind it. (There wasn’t) I’m a nice guy J

I had a few options to handle this situation. Option one. Prove my point and tell everyone that the project is disorganized and mismanaged. Option two. Confront the project manager and tell him things I cannot discuss on this blog. And Option three. Keep cool and move on knowing that my colleagues have my back and understand the truth. I decided to choose option # 3 as it shows my profession and self in control when dealing difficult ethical situations. Sometimes we must walk away from these dilemmas, regroup our thoughts, and refocus our energy on bigger and better things. That’s how I handled my dilemma.

Knowledge + Assessment =Success

In chapter twelve of the skillful teacher, Brookfield (2006) writes a section called the-level of required learning is inappropriate. Brookfield says that “It’s easy for teachers to misinterpret students’ levels of learning readiness, particularly if there has been no attempt to use some kind of classroom assessment tool to find out what and how students are learning.” I agree with this quote. As an instructor I must understand my students’ level of knowledge before proceeding to the next step. My students must have a clear understanding of the rules, instructions, outcomes and content in order for me to move on. So how do accomplish this?

Thomas R. Guskey a Professor at the University of Kentucky explains this well in his article- How classroom assessments improve learning. Guskey said, “When teachers’ classroom assessments become an integral part of the instructional process and a central ingredient in their efforts to help students learn, the benefits of assessment for both students and teachers will be boundless”. So what does this mean? It means that we must utilize the benefits of assessments and design our lessons around them. Assessments are used to guide improvements in student learning and provide feedback to the instructor. These must be continuously done throughout the course to maximize its purpose.

This semester I’m teaching a course called process operation 201. The course consists of five units which focus on equipment and procedures in the oil and gas industry. At the beginning of the semester I completed a pre-assessment to determine the knowledge of my students. This helped me determine what they do and do not understand. This was a verbal assessment to see if they understood common industry terms like heat exchanger, sampling, P&ID’s etc. After analyzing the data I was able to come up with a good starting point.

Within the first few weeks of teaching, I realized that the prewritten assessments that were created have a much higher English level than what my students have. My ESL students have a difficult time understanding many basic English words, so having an assessment that caters to an advocate English speaker makes it difficult for me and my students. To fix this problem I had to options. Option one which is to recreate the assessment which consists of a validation committee (This could take weeks), and option two is to teach them new English words that are on the assessment. I decided to pick option number two, to save time.

This is a prime example where assessments are wrongfully used. Assessments should give me validity of my students’ knowledge and skills, rather than creating extra stress and confusion. It should help them succeed in the classroom and give me a better sense of their abilities. This form of assessment is difficult to use when monitoring my students throughout the semester. In order for me to gather appropriate data, I go beyond the formal assessments and conduct frequent verbal assessments to ensure they are on track. This provides me useful info when guiding them in right direction.

My college understands that this form of assessing is a problem. Lucky enough they are at the beginning phase of recreating a new curriculum.  The program was originally developed for students with higher English skills. This has been a problem for years, so I’m happy a change is coming down the pipes. Until then……I will try my best to help each student thrive!!