Doctors must take what is called the Hippocratic Oath before beginning to practice their craft. Doctors have life or death in their hands, so it makes sense they should have principles to guide their actions. Just as doctors hold life or death in their hands, so do educators. When making decisions, I often thing "do the kids no harm". With this in mind, I took the liberty to change the Hippocratic oath to fit educators. May you allow this pledge to guide your educational practices.
The Educator's Oath
I will respect the innovative gains of those educators in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will apply, for the benefit of the student, all best practice measures that are required, avoiding those twin traps of one-size fits all classroom instruction and expecting every student to only learn one way.
I will remember that there is art to teaching as well as assessment, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the standardized measures imposed by state and federal government.
I will not be ashamed to say "I know not”, nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a student’s academic progress.
I will respect the privacy of my students, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death as it relates to their education. It is given me to save a life through education, and may I never forget that higher calling.
I will remember that I do not teach autism or the learning disabled, but perhaps a struggling child, whose struggles may affect the student's educational learning. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the student.
I will prevent academic low performance whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the struggling.
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of teaching and positively effecting the lives of those with whom I am entrusted.
Paula Patterson is a former principal who shares practical points on the principalship.