Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Professional Courtesy

A couple of kids poked their heads in my door right after school. "Can we make some copies?" one of them asked. Kids don't ordinarily need to copy things at our school, so I asked them what was up. It turned out that another teacher, not on my team, had given out packets of information about a big field trip. One of the students had hers, but the other did not; they wanted to know if I would make a copy for her. I wondered if they had asked their teacher for another packet, and they told me that any student who lost the information would be penalized with a lunch detention before receiving the replacement. The single copy that they had in their possession had already been paid for in precious lunch time, and that student was hoping to spare her friend a similar fate.

I understand that the teacher who imposes it is trying to instill a sense of responsibility and consequences in the students, but I think that such a penalty for losing paperwork is dumb and overly-punitive. Even so, I hesitated when asked to make the copies. The students wheedled and begged and swore that they would never tell the other teacher. (Had they visions of me, stealthily entering the office, checking to see that the coast is clear, and surreptitiously feeding the papers into the machine, all the while looking over my shoulder for fear of my draconian co-worker?) In the end, I held my ground, though, unwilling to unilaterally undermine the professional judgment of a colleague.

I think they understood, but I'm still not sure I did the right thing.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, an ethical consideration worthy of a blog post, for sure. What a conflict - the obvious need of a student versus the expectations of a colleague. This is a situation I find myself in often, unfortunately, and I almost always lean towards the students...I am often accused of enabling. I call it support.