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Virginia Journal of Education

Your Classroom

A ‘Declaration of
Professional Conscience’

Below are excerpts taken from a “Declaration of Professional Conscience for Teachers,” written by Kenneth S. Goodman, professor emeritus at the University of Arizona and former president of the International Reading Association:

We will make the welfare of our students our most basic criterion for professional judgment. We have no greater accountability than that we owe our pupils. We will work with parents and policymakers to formulate programs that are in the best interests of our pupils. We will work with the kids to personalize these programs. We will respect all learners. We will cherish their strengths, accept and strive to understand their language and culture, and seek to further their personal values, tastes and objectives. We will, in all matters and in all interactions, deal with our pupils fairly, consistently, honestly and compassionately.

We will do all we can to make school a warm, friendly, supportive place in which all pupils are welcome. Our classrooms will be theirs. We will provide guidance and leadership to support our students in the development of problem-solving, decision-making and self-discipline skills. We will help them build a sense of respect and support for each other. We will help them appreciate and respect those who differ from them in culture, language, race, color, heritage, religion, sex, weight, height, physical strength or attractiveness, intelligence, interests, values, personal goals or any other characteristics.

We will accept the responsibility of evaluating our pupils' growth. We will make no long- or short-range decisions that affect the future education of our pupils on the basis of a single examination no matter what the legal status of the examination. We will evaluate through ongoing monitoring of our pupils during our interactions with them. We will strive to know each pupil personally, using all available professional tools to increase our understanding of each and every one.

We are teachers. We are not actors following scripts. We are not technicians servicing an educational machine. We have prepared ourselves for teaching by building knowledge of human development, human learning, pedagogy, curriculum, language and cognition. We have carefully built personal philosophies that provide us with criteria for making teaching decisions in the best interests of our pupils. We have a broad liberal education and an in-depth knowledge of the content areas in which we teach.

We will use our knowledge base to support our students in their own quest for knowledge. The real curriculum is what happens to each learner. We, as teachers, are the curriculum planners and facilitators. We will not yield that professional responsibility to the publishers of texts or management systems. We will select and use the best educational resources we can find, but we will not permit ourselves or our pupils to be controlled by them.

We will continually update our knowledge of education, of our fields of instruction, of the real world, because of our professional dedication to use all means to improve our effectiveness as teachers. We expect school authorities to support us in our professionalism and self-improvement. And we will oppose all policies that restrict our professional authority to use new knowledge or new pedagogical practices on behalf of our students.

To read the entire document, go to Used with permission of Richard C. Owen Publishers.


Take the Pledge

One caring adult can make an enormous difference in the life of a bullied child. One caring adult—you—could keep such a student from quitting school, sinking into depression, or even ending his or her own life.

The NEA, through its new Bully Free: It Starts with Me campaign, is looking for a whole bunch of caring adults in our nation’s schools. Here’s how it works: go to and sign the pledge. By doing so, you promise to be that caring adult, one who will listen to bullied students,  work to help them and work to promote a safe learning environment in your school.

In return, NEA will provide you with some helpful, free resources.

Take the pledge. Today.

What’s In Your Toolbox?

A quick way to create an IEP, an easy-access place to store your favorite lesson plans, help with developing effective assessment instruments, and a simple way to document student interventions and progress—those are just some of the features of the NEA Teacher Toolkit, a Web-based program to make your life more productive and efficient.

The Toolkit is divided into seven sections: Classroom Tools, IEP Tools, Curriculum Tools, Assessment Tools, Gradebook Tools, Performance Tools, and My Learning Tools.
To learn more about how the Toolkit can help you and your colleagues, and for pricing information, visit

U. of Virginia Offers
Civics Resources

The University of Virginia’s Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI), the brainchild of UVa professor Larry Sabato, is designed to boost civic engagement for young people by providing their teachers with excellent classroom resources. When he founded YLI in 1998, Dr. Sabato believed that far too many of our students were becoming apathetic and cynical about government and their own role in it. To combat that trend, YLI offers lesson plans and activities such as the yearly Mock Election, E-Congress and Democracy Corps. All programs use hands-on activities and simulations.

To help your students become active participants in our democracy, visit the YLI website at

Audio Available
of Classic Books

LibriVox is an online service that uses the tagline, “Acoustical liberation of books in the public domain,” and whose mission is to provide free audiobooks via the Web. Volunteer readers record chapters of books that are considered in the public domain and then LibriVox makes the audio files available through its website. The organization’s ultimate goal is to record all books in the public domain. Current offerings include works by Leo Tolstoy, P.G. Wodehouse, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Frost and Oscar Wilde.

For more information, visit

Make the
‘First Move’

Through a program called First Move, second and third grade students can use the game of chess to hone their critical thinking abilities, improve math and reading skills, and build self-confidence. First Move was created by America’s Foundation for Chess and is meant to be a learning tool that supports existing academic and social programs. It’s tailored for elementary school students, who are encouraged to play for fun and learning.

To learn more, visit

The High Cost of
Dropping Out

According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, an estimated 32,400 students in Virginia dropped out from the Class of 2010 without earning a diploma. Cutting this number in half would yield 16,200 “new” high school graduates who would likely make additional contributions to the nation’s economy by

• spending $575 million more on home purchases than what they would likely spend without a diploma;

• supporting 1,300 new jobs and increasing the gross state product by as much as $242 million by the time they reach the midpoint of their careers;

• earning $207 million more in an average year, compared to their likely earnings without a high school diploma;

• spending an additional $150 million and investing an additional $57 million in an average year;

• boosting state tax revenues by $19 million in an average year; and

• spending an additional $19 million in an average year purchasing automobiles.



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