The Issues in the Official Set of Standards of Professionalism Among Teachers

The word professional is used almost constantly in the teaching profession, and particularly emphasized for young teachers and education students. It is thrown around often, but has a tendency to lose the weight of its meaning when it seems that professionalism is objective. Education majors are taught about the standards of professionalism published by countless associations, organizations, and government run sites. The Illinois State Board of Education has published an official set of standards of professionalism. This is a comprehensive list of standards for teachers that seem quite intuitive.

Beginning with content knowledge, it lists the expectations for teachers in clearly defined categories. It emphasizes repeatedly the boundaries of the relationships between teachers, students, and parents. There is also a specific attention to the ability to acknowledge diversity, whether it through culture, learning styles, or due to disabilities or impairments.

There is also an expectation surrounding how they maintain the classroom, and the environment that is provided for students. The PowerPoint we have on this lists teacher and student rights, one of which includes freedom of speech, so long as it is not disruptive.

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It is the responsibility of the teacher to maintain this order. Many of these publications that we have looked at in this class emphasize content knowledge, communication skills, attentiveness to student needs, and various other aspects of the same question: do you know what to teach, and can you do so effectively? This is particularly well outlined in the Illinois State Board of Education’s official standards, which provides pages of criteria.

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What these publications lack, however, is another aspect of professionalism that is far less clear. There is also a standard of appearance that varies greatly throughout schools, and it is something that my generation in particular has visibly struggled with.

This is everything from clothing and cosmetics to hair color and tattoos. The current generation of education students is entering the profession at a time where society is focused constantly on social constructs. As my generation has embraced this change, it has created tension between newer teachers and their colleagues with more experience in the field. There has been a movement throughout the entirety of this generation for what has been broadly labeled as freedom of expression; this has focused mostly on putting an end to the idea that unnatural hair color, tattoos, and piercings, are unprofessional. Regardless of any personal beliefs on the matter, it is clear that previous generations have resisted this change, and that the more society changes, the more those changes have been resisted in the workplace throughout all professions, and the more tension builds between the generations.

Teachers are one of many professions where appearance is more highly scrutinized, and there is often a very specific expectation in how we dress and present ourselves. However, most aspiring teachers seek to avoid contradicting their colleagues, and so these changes occurring around the profession. Taking that into consideration, there is still the issue of professional dress around students. Clearly, no matter society’s stance on appearance, there are different expectations for teachers simply because of the age gap between teachers and students. Women’s outfits are expected to be conservative, and the level of formality for all teachers varies by school. This is necessary in order to keep a clear division between teacher and student, especially in the case of younger teachers, who students may identify with because they are closer in age. Teachers are held to high standards in all aspects of their lives, anywhere that they are in the public eye. While most aspects of this professionalism are clearly defined, there are still standards that have yet to be set, and it may be a long time before they are.

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The Issues in the Official Set of Standards of Professionalism Among Teachers. (2022, Sep 10). Retrieved from

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