E3: Exemplify an understanding of professional responsibilities and policies. As a part of making sure that all students are safe and accounted for, it is imperative that I am not only aware of my professional responsibilities and the various policies in place, but that I am prepared and able to actuate those responsibilities and procedures when necessary. During the course of my internship, on several occasions, I had the opportunity to become familiar with my responsibilities and the procedures in place to ensure student safety in case of fire. The first time the fire alarm went off during my first few weeks, I did not know what was expected of me—my mentor teacher and I had not discussed what to do incase of different emergencies. My mentor teacher walked me through what my responsibilities as a lead teacher would be: making sure all students exit the classroom, locking the door, taking a bright red clipboard, exiting the building and meeting at a designated place on the football field, holding up the red clip board so students know where to meet, taking attendance to ensure that all students are safe and accounted for and then passing the attendance to the appointed individual.
After this first fire drill, my mentor teacher and I discussed the various policies and procedures in place for a variety of potential situations and emergencies that could arise. After the initial panic and uncertainty of my role, our discussion of my responsibilities and the policies in place, increased my confidence and my ability to navigate potentially stressful and even dangerous situations calmly and responsibly. Although it was only a drill, this was the first time I really felt the weight of responsibility for my students’ safety. As I begin my teaching career, I am keenly aware of the importance of understanding all of my professional responsibilities, including familiarity with the policies my school has in place, particularly for emergencies. While I will daily feel the weight of responsibility for my students’ learning and development, I must also understand how to navigate and follow procedures according to policy for potentially dangerous, chaotic or unusual situations, in order to protect and ensure the safety of all students.
E3 – Exemplify an understanding of professional responsibilities and policies. To me, E3 spans broadly to include an understanding of all responsibilities and policies necessary to keeping students safe and providing a rich and challenging learning environment so that students have every possible chance to grow and succeed. Part of ensuring that students are safe and healthy includes my ability to identify signs of abuse and understand the policies for reporting abuse or neglect, which is part of my professional responsibility. Figure 1 is a screen shot of page 1 of one of our course readings for EDU 6942, Protecting the Abused & Neglected Child, A Guide for Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect by the Washington State Department of Social & Health Services—Children’s Administration. This passage explains that as a teacher in Washington State, I am required by law to be a “mandated reporter.” Being a “mandated reporter,” means I must report or cause a report to be written for suspected cases of child abuse and neglect to Child Protective Services or a law enforcement agency. Later on page 7, the reading states that I am required to report within 48 hours and also that it is very important to keep a record of my suspicion.
Throughout the reading, I was also reminded of different types of abuse, as well as different situations that may warrant suspicion of abuse. The reading proposed that in general, the following signs may suggest abuse and neglect: sudden change in behavior or school performance, not having received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention, learning problems not attributed to specific physical or psychological causes, watchfulness as though the student is preparing for something bad to happen, excessive compliance, passivity, withdrawal, or an avoidance of going home (p.3). While it is important to be cognizant and vigilant, the presence of one of the mentioned signs does not necessarily prove child abuse. If there are multiple signs present or a sign repeatedly appears, it is particularly important to consider the likelihood of abuse.
It is my responsibility to be familiar with and able to recognize signs of abuse and neglect in order to adhere to my responsibilities as both a teacher and a “mandated reporter.” In order to prioritize the safety of a child by ensuring the proper authorities are notified in a timely manner, it is my responsibility to understand and strictly adhere to not only the state’s policies for reporting, but also, the specific policies my school has in place.
In order for students to have the best chance of developing, learning and growing within the classroom, they must first be safe both inside and outside of school. My classroom must always be a place where students feel safe and comfortable to be themselves. It is important for teachers to really get to know their students, to be invested in their lives and interests; in so doing, teachers have a unique and enhanced opportunity to notice and intervene on the behalf of a student if necessary.
Reference: Washington State DSHS (2012). Protecting the Abused & Neglected Child. http://www.dshs.wa.gov/pdf/publications/22-163.pdf