Indicator C.4.5. Enact Ethical Practice for Advocacy
Well-prepared beginning teachers of mathematics are knowledgeable about, and accountable for, enacting ethical practices that enable them to advocate for themselves and to challenge the status quo on behalf of their students.
The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP, 2013), Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership (2014), and others have cited the importance of teacher dispositions, including ethical practices. To develop into accomplished teachers who affect not just education but also the lives of their students, well-prepared beginners must engage in ethical practices and advocacy. In ethical practice professional decisions and actions are guided by a set of principles of mutual respect, integrity, and a sense of justice, not simply external measures of quality teaching like students’ test scores or teacher evaluations. Well-prepared beginners exercise ethical practice in decision making and teaching when working with children, families, and colleagues, including the elimination of deficit-based thinking, integration of family/community funds of knowledge into lesson design and implementation, attention to cultural differences, and protection of the rights of privacy.
Well-prepared beginners recognize the need to challenge previous functions of school mathematics and the messages conveyed to students and the greater public through school mathematics. Messages to be challenged include the following: “Being good at mathematics is a sign of intelligence"; “some students are good at mathematics whereas others simply are not"; “mathematics is a natural/pure way of doing things"; “doing mathematics does not involve emotions, values, or the body"; and “all students should aspire to STEM careers.” Well-prepared beginners recognize their advocacy roles in teaching, realizing that when teachers fail to take action, students, families, colleagues, and others may be harmed.
Well-prepared beginners demonstrate the understanding that teachers who are successful advocates for students challenge the status quo by developing principled and just ethical practices; they hold themselves and others accountable. Rather than simply reflecting on or analyzing teaching, well-prepared beginners accept that teaching is a political activity (Schoenfeld, 2010) and are prepared to take action in the classroom, at school meetings, in professional settings, with families and the wider community, and in other spaces to advocate for meaningful and robust mathematical student identities and experiences. This knowledge prepares well-prepared beginners to develop language and effective ways of working with allies, choosing their battles appropriately, and being creative and strategic in response to practices and policies that demean students and teachers. Teachers who successfully advocate for students realize that teaching sometimes requires acts of creative insubordination (Gutiérrez, 2015). That is, driven by higher ethics, successful beginning teachers are prepared to re-interpret school rules and practices that are not in the best interests of providing their students meaningful and humane mathematical experiences.