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What Is Ethics and How Does It Influence Educational Leadership?

Every person has a set of morals that guides their behavior and decision-making. We often refer to this code as ethics, particularly when discussing institutions or activities, which often have their own codes of ethics.

Education is no different. If anything, a code of ethics that is moral, respectful and equitable for all is a fundamental part of any strong educational environment. Ethics in education is not simply about right or wrong but also about honoring the needs of students and the promise to offer a quality education for everyone. This kind of support can come in many forms.

In the Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies online program from The University of Texas Arlington (UTA), graduates will encounter a variety of courses to prepare them for the different scenarios and nuances of being an ethical educational leader.

In its code of ethics, the School Superintendents Association (AASA) notes that "educational leaders provide professional leadership across the district and also across the community." That means they are in a unique position as leaders, with their actions "viewed and appraised by the community, professional associates and students."

Such a responsibility requires educational leaders to set the tone with exemplary behavior, from creating an equitable environment for students to modeling appropriate conduct and practices.

Educational leaders should keep in mind some of these ethical principles and strategies, via National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) guiding principles and AASA's code of ethics:

Make decisions based on the education and well-being of students.

Above all, education is about serving students. To that end, their knowledge, safety and well-being should ultimately guide any decisions that will affect them. This idea also applies to creating an inclusive and beneficial atmosphere for students of all identities. Striving to make all students feel comfortable and ensuring their access to a constructive educational environment is critical to the well-being of students. UTA's Diversity in Educational Settings course teaches students the tools to enact effective leadership, instruction and management strategies in diverse educational settings.

Be honest, trustworthy and accountable.

Just as educational leaders are rule-makers, they must be rule followers if they want other community members to abide by the rules. Setting a solid example and always treating colleagues and students with respect and trust will help set the right tone. The Leadership Theory course offers an in-depth look at leadership theories and practices that have shown to be effective in different school settings. Equally important, the course delves into self-awareness as a leader, including the kind of reflection and adaptability necessary to be a responsive leader in diverse educational settings.

Ensure laws, policies and regulations are consistent with educational goals and student well-being.

Nothing is a one-size-fits-all solution, and educational leaders perhaps know this better than anyone. Instead, leaders should be prepared to combine their own discretion with ethical principles on a case-by-case basis depending on the needs of different situations. The Leadership in the Instructional Setting course in UTA's M.Ed. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies online program will arm graduates with the insight required to evaluate organizational structures, classroom instruction and school climates on behalf of their students.

Learn more about The University of Texas at Arlington's Master of Education in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies online program.

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