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Habit 5

To be morally, ethically-grounded deliberators, living and working with integrity.

Each day, teachers make decisions in the classroom based on their personal moral beliefs. This is not something that I realized until a discussion that I had with Melissa. Melissa showed me that, although I have been making moral decisions all along, I have never consciously evaluated them as such. When talking to my mentor teacher about this Habit of Mind, the first thing that came to her mind was the math quarterly assessments. When looking at the distribution of scores for this test, our class had the lowest scores. This was expected because we have the lower end of the kids. This, however, was not the problem. The problem lies in how high some of the other teachers’ grades are.

On the day that the math tests are given, the teacher provides the students with the directions they need to complete the problems. We read all the words for the students, but after that, the students are on their own to complete the test. I had not even given this a thought when administering the test. After all, the MEAP is set up like this and as the students get older they are expected to be able to complete the test independently. Another portion of my reasoning behind this is so that Mrs. Strope and I can really see which students really understand which concepts.

It turns out, however, that not every teacher shared in our reasoning. While the students were taking the test, the teacher would aid the students by telling them what they got wrong. She would also send the students back to their seat with a hint of how to do the problem. This only happened in one other classroom, but the reasoning that the teacher gave was that this is the students’ first unaided quarterly assessment and knowing that, some students get nervous or are not doing their best work.

I would argue that reasoning stating simply that although this is the students’ first unaided quarterly assessment, it is not their first unaided test. They have completed math tests on their own before. Also, even if the student seems to grasp a concept during class, I have often found that they have grasped the concept of copying. As a teacher, it is very difficult to watch what every student is doing at a given time. This opens the door for students to aid each other or copy off of one another. During tests, however, the room is silent and it is much easier to regulate and make sure that the students are independently working. That being said, the teacher gets a clear picture of whom, working independently, can do the math.

Before talking this over with Mrs. Strope, I never would have thought of this dilemma as a moral question. I would have just thought it was out of pure logic. It seems as though moral decisions are much more common in a classroom than I thought. Looking back, taking a “teachable moment” into questionable areas is a moral and ethical decision. During one “teachable moment,” I elected to detour away from my plan and spend part of a lesson talking about slavery with my students. Only one or two of my student know what slavery was, so in order to enrich their education, we looked at pictures and talked about what slavery was. This was something that I was very timid about doing, but I did dive into it head first.

Moral decisions face us every day and being conscious of why I make certain decisions is going to help to make me feel confident in my decision making. In the future, I will take the time to step back and formulate reasoning behind any major decisions I make, if possible. I look forward to taking this lesson into the classroom and being cognoscente of the moral decisions I make daily.

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