This is not a great challenge if you work in an organization that holds professional effort high, but this is much more difficult if the environment where you work does not regard professional effort with respect, care, or support.
Know your job; Do your job
To be a respected professional, it's integral that you understand your job and do it well. In some cases, a lack of job descriptions or clear and reasonable job guidelines can obstruct professionalism when it comes to doing your jobs. Sometimes educators' jobs are not reasonable which leaves teachers with tough choices. Other times educators' job descriptions are unclear and unknown which leaves a lot of room for interpretation and angst. If I'm expecting an educator that visits my room to do one job, and that educator is working with another set of guidelines, then it's likely that there will be conflict, less collaboration, and less good, professional work. As I think of the new leadership that is coming to our school, I think it may be good to ask the question, "What is most important to you with regard to my work and job?" Knowing the person's definition and priorities with regard to my job description will help me to fulfill the work in ways that foster better collaboration.
Deal with issues with respect and a straightforward approach
Many fear dealing with the issues that face us in our work. I remember years ago when I received a lot of negative push back because I wanted to work to provide tech devices to students who didn't have tech at home. Many found fault with this idea, but fortunately others, after time, came to support the idea and now it's a mainstay at our school--a mainstay that has provided a positive support to our students. I'm glad that I wasn't afraid to push the issue forward even though I was met with contempt at first. Over time I've been learning to forward ideas with greater respect, good speak, and camaraderie too. It's best to deal with issues that face us, and it's best to be persistent, truthful, and respectful with regard to that advocacy. We have to be willing to be wrong and to learn as we advocate, and we also have to be willing to work with others with truth and perseverance too in the face of issues that help us to be and do better.
Steer clear of gossip, lies, and lethargy
In every organization there is gossip, lies, and lethargy. It's best to steer clear of this. I believe that gossip and lies exist, in part, because people are afraid to speak up about troubling issues. I also believe that a lack of transparency, poor communication, and untruths lead to greater gossip, lies, and lethargy. It's best to be upfront about troubling issues and to ask questions rather than spread information that may not be true. It's good to surround yourself with people who do the good work, tell the truth, and work with positive energy and effort--to surround yourself with people like that makes it much easier for you to do the right thing.
A little for today and a little for tomorrow
To invest in your profession is to make your professional work better and more meaningful. At work if we invest in doing a good job today and also making time to develop our work, we will find that we contribute to a positive professional environment.
Ask questions that matter
Confusion is often at the root of professional problems. Asking questions with respect lead us ahead. Good questions that may help include the following:
- What does this mean? Often we're confused about what a statistic, policy, or decision means.
- What is your main objective? Sometimes what we believe to be someone's main objective is not correct. It's important to understand what people's main objectives are when they work with us--that helps us to work well together?
- How can I foster this change? If you see room for change, you may want to ask those who can help you make that change about how to best foster that change.
- How can I do this better? If people find fault with your efforts, you might want to ask them how they believe you can do it better.
You have to continually revisit your professional ethics, and use ethical behavior at work. if your ethics are challenged, you can simply not go along and say, That is unethical. A few years ago I was threatened to do something that was unethical. The individual who threatened me did not think he was asking me to do something unethical, but I felt it was unethical. I consulted a lawyer who agreed with me that to follow the directive was unethical. I had to endure the threat and hostile speak, but I was glad that I didn't go along and I also remained respectful throughout the situation. Later a decision was made that was ethical and appeased both parties. We see so often in the news the great hardship that people face when they go along with unethical demands or behavior. It's not worth it, and we have to be ethical to do the good work possible.
School vacations give us an opportunity to revisit our professional perspectives and efforts. It's best to always be professional and ethical with the work you do, and it's best to specifically outline what that means in your professional environment.