Updated: Jul 10
Summary of The Illinois Educator Code of Ethics:
The Illinois Educator Code of Ethics is founded on the idea that teachers must meet the educational needs of each student, and that this is critical to our profession. It’s a list of core principles, values, and responsibilities that sets expectations to guide our practice as teachers. It aims to inspire professional excellence and encourage the application of the core principles. The Illinois Educator Code of Ethics has five core principles.
The first core principle is our responsibility to students. Teachers are expected to create, promote, and implement a learning environment that maximizes all of our students in their ability to succeed in academic settings, employment settings, and as a responsible member of society. Regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, religion, language or socioeconomic status, we are to respect the inherent dignity and worth of each student and make sure that the learning environment is one of respect and equal opportunity for each student. Teachers are to have professional relationships and provide a curriculum that addresses individual differences while also having high expectations for each student. Teachers are also expected to foster in each student the development of attributes that will enhance skills and knowledge necessary to be a contributing member of society.
The second core principle is our responsibility to self. Teachers are to establish and meet high professional standards for their practice. We assume responsibility and accountability for our performance and continually strive to demonstrate proficiency in content and professional practice. We are to develop and implement personal and professional goals aligning with professional standards through a process of self assessment and professional development. We are to represent our professional credentials accurately and demonstrate a high level of professional judgment.
The third core principle is our responsibility to colleagues and the profession. Teachers are to collaborate with school and district colleagues and other professionals in the interest of student learning and in meeting local and state educational standards. We are to work together to create a respectful, professional, and supportive school climate that allows all educators to maintain their individual professional integrity. We are to seek out and engage in activities that contribute to the ongoing development of the profession, promote participation in educational decision making processes, encourage promising candidates to enter the education profession, and support the preparation, induction, mentoring and professional development of educators.
The fourth core principle is our responsibility to parents, families, and communities. Teachers are expected to collaborate, build trust, and respect confidentiality with parents, families, and communities. We are to aspire to understand and respect the values and traditions of the diversity represented in our community. We are to develop and maintain professional relationships with parents, families, and communities to promote collaboration and to support student learning through regular and meaningful communications. We are to cooperate with community agencies that provide resources and services to enhance the learning environment.
The fifth core principle is our responsibility to the Illinois State Board of Education. Teachers are committed to supporting the Administrative and School Codes, state and federal laws and regulations, and the Illinois State Board of Education’s standards for highly qualified educators. We are to provide accurate communication to the Illinois State Board of Education concerning all certification matters, maintain appropriate certification for employment, and comply with state and federal codes, laws, and regulations.
Do the guidelines emphasize the importance of personal social and emotional learning, equity, and culturally responsible practices?
I believe that the Illinois Educator Code of Ethics could be strengthened in terms of personal social and emotional learning. At least one of the core principles is responsibility to self. The guidelines include our teacher responsibilities for meeting high standards in our practice, in ongoing professional development, and in upholding our credentials. The guidelines lack an emphasis on our personal social and emotional learning. Teachers should have within our code of ethics a guideline for self-care, self-awareness, self-management. There should be these expectations to promote longevity in the career, but also to promote teachers authentically growing their own social and emotional health so that they are the best role models for students. A teacher can be educated in the curriculum, but lack in the area of social and emotional health. There should be a commitment within the profession to tend to our own growth within social and emotional learning. This would ensure classroom climates that respect the dignity and worth of each student, model healthy conflict resolution skills, and are responsible to counteract implicit biases.
I believe that the Illinois Educator Code of Ethics does include a fair and comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure equity and culturally responsible practices. However, I believe there should be a system of checks and balances to promote that these guidelines are being carried out with integrity. Teachers should have the expectation to receive and thoughtfully respond to feedback on any perceived implicit or explicit bias, blind spot in how they may be unfairly treating a student, or even an attitude check when not adhering to these guidelines. Like in any organization, there are ideal guidelines, but it’s a different story if within the culture, the members feel open to kindly confront its members in order to meet the guidelines better. We all have blind spots and weaknesses, and we should have open communication to elevate each other to meet these guidelines.
If I were to craft my own personal version of a code of ethics, what would it be?
My personal code of ethics would be:
Responsibility to Students: Teachers are expected to believe in each and every student, despite the difficulty. Teachers are never to “give up” on a student, but to reflect and re-direct their strategies to support each student. Teachers are expected to value, respect, and support each student in a way that is noticed and received by each student. Teachers are expected to build a class culture of care and respect for all differences, encouraging students to do the same. Teachers are to get to know students and honor their differences when planning learning activities. Teachers are expected to incorporate social and emotional learning within their classroom in a way that nurtures students’ SEL health and competencies. Teachers themselves are expected to work on their personal SEL health to be authentic models of social and emotional health and model a high level of integrity and conflict resolution skills for their students.
Responsibility to Self: Teachers are expected to be effective in effectively managing their self-care and to model this for their students. Teachers are expected to be invested in their own personal growth in the SEL competencies and show continuous evolution and growth. Teachers are expected to reflect on their practice and seek out training to strengthen areas of weakness.
Responsibility to Colleagues and the Profession: Teachers are expected to have a high level of integrity in their words and actions within and outside of the school. Teachers are expected to receive constructive criticism to help them strengthen any weaknesses or blind spots. Teachers are expected to navigate interpersonal conflicts using high levels of social awareness, respect, humility, and conflict-resolution skills. Teachers should regularly nudge each other back into the right direction when gossiping or any negative practice has occurred. Teachers should be responsible to share their strengths to help train teachers who need those strengths. Teachers are expected to collaborate and work together in such a way that is a true model for what we are teaching our students. Teachers should not speak negatively about students or their parents amongst each other.
Responsibility to Parents, Families and Communities: Teachers are expected to actively respect, understand, and communicate with the families and parents in the community. Teachers should see parents as partners in achieving success for our students. Teachers should have humility to value parents and their cultures while also having confidence to speak up in advocating when the children are needing specific support.
Responsibility to the Illinois State Board of Education: Teachers are responsible to uphold rules and regulations of their profession and to be in compliance with requirements.
Illinois Educator Code of Ethics