Special Education Staff - Standards of Conduct and Professionalism

What's Required
Educators shall comply with standard practices and ethical conduct toward students, professional colleagues, school officials, parents, and members of the community and shall safeguard academic freedom. The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) shall provide for the adoption, amendment, and enforcement of an educator’s code of ethics [see DH(EXHIBIT)]. SBEC is solely responsible for enforcing the ethics code for purposes related to certification disciplinary proceedings. Education Code 21.041(8); 19 TAC 247.1(b), (c)

What We Do

Professional communication is an ongoing reflection of yourself and adds or detracts from your reputation. 

Remember we are servants of all. 

  • All communication
    • Address person properly (parents, teachers, and administrators are Mr., Ms., or Dr.)
    • Never use foul language 
    • Never engage in gossip, slander, malicious talk, or hearsay.  
    • Listen to everone
    • respect everyone 
    • Acknowledge others views, ideas, contributions
    • Avoid distractions (other people, eating, drinking)
    • Celebrate the Great
    • Be positive and promote team. Don’t cast blame — It’s this person’s fault (saying things like don’t shoot the messenger”, that’s above my paygrade” are counter the culture we are working to create)
    • explain the why”

  • Email 
    • Avoid caps (ok for acronyms but never us acronyms with parents)
    • Include greeting/salutations.(especially to parents, administrators, and non district staff).
    • Be a little fluffy but to the point (a 3 or more paragraph email should usually be discussed though a different communication method).
    • Be empathetic (it is not saying the other person is right or wrong).
    • Know when to reply all vs. select individuals. (If an individual request a specific piece of information reply to send not all. For example- Sender: what is your birthday). 
    • No one liners (An emails is different than a text text). 
    • Pick your communication method carefully (Text message vs email vs phone/face-to-face).
    • If you email do not expect immediate response (48hrs). 
    • Check spelling and grammar before sending. 
    • If you don’t want your email on the side of a bus (or public information request) you probably should not send it.
    • Do not use your work email for personal emails. 
    • Be mindful of your tone. When in doubt have a colleague read it first.
    • when you are upset or passionate about an email, wait at least 1 hour,  re-read, and then send.
    • Have a clear subject line that matches the email content. 
    • Make sure email has the proper district signature (phone signature as well). 
    • Check your to:”,  cc:”,  bcc: and be mindful of the audience.  
    • Don’t assume your audience knows what you are talking about.
    • Keep conversations confidential (be careful what you fwd) and remember anything your write could be fwd’d.
    • Explain why you are fwd’ing an email. 
    • Only use an auto-respond when absolutely necessary such as FMLA or extended absence. (attending a work training or out for the day is not a reason to use auto respond).

  • Phone
    • Never answer on the first ring (throws caller off guard). Answering on second or third ring is ideal. 
    • Begin with a positive greeting.
    • Smile when answering the phone (it affects tone).
    • Listen without interruption  and be patient.
    • Identify yourself immediately.
    • When on speakerphone, immediately inform the person you are calling (and explain why you are calling and who is in the room).
    • Recess ARD before calling a non attending staff member (request to conference the person in if needed). 
    • Use normal voice tone and volume.
    • Speak clearly.
    • When leaving a voicemail, repeat your phone number and name twice at a slow pace.
    • 48 hours timeline to return a call or voicemail.
    • Ask permission before putting a caller on hold and thank them when you bring them back.
    • Always return a call if you say you will call the person back. 
    • Before transferring a call, give the person the number in case they are disconnected and ask permission to transfer them. 
    • Never say, I don’t know” or that’s not my job” instead say let me check on that for you” or let me connect you with the person who directly oversees….”
    • Never argue with a caller.
    • Always end on a positive (thank you for calling). 
    • Remember any call/conversation can be recorded.

  • Professional Attire
    • Follow the district dress code. (see resource links under  Additional Resources below)
    • When meeting with parents, community, and campus principals (no jeans or tennis shoes even if it is Friday).
    • For guys Ties Optional on Fridays
    • ID Badge visual when on campus
    • Ensure shoes policy is followed. 
    • Tattoos can be visible but if visible then must not be of potentially offensive content. 
    • No T-shirts, (except on days authorized by the Chief of Staff, ex. college day)

  • Meetings/Taining
    • Have norms and an agenda
    • being on technology (laptops/phone) sends the wrong message. My time is more valuable then any of yours.
    • Be active and engaged. Add to discussion. 
    • Make eye contact with speakers
    • respect others opnions
    • don’t talk over others
    • give bathroom/technology breaks at least every 1.5hrs
    • guide all topics related to procedures or expectations from Procedures Manual (use visuals/examples)
    • For trainings use Professional Develop Quality Indicators
    • be mindful of how you fidget (can say I’m bored). Same with leg jiggle.
    • on time is late (try to arrive 15 minutes early is not leading)
    • If new people are present, start with introductions
    • Clean up after yourself before you leave 
    • Avoid sidebar conversation 
    • Ensure phone is on silent and avoid answering calls/returning texts until Meeting break
    • avoid expressing your disagreement with phrases such as well, what if…” it derails the conversation and serious concerns should be held privately 
    • always bring a pen to a meeting

  • Body Language 
    • Avoid crossing arms (say’s I’m closed off/defensive/no open to discussion) but palms up says open to your ideas. Be mindful of legs as they can send similar message
    • Never roll eyes (sign of disrespect)
    • Remember to smile (but not a permanent smile as it is viewed as insecure) 
    • handshake greeting is essential (firm and solid) 
    • Be mindful of others space (1.5ft between)
    • talk with your hands (think of it as the emojis of face to face conversations) 
    • watch posture and seating position (slouching says low self esteems/lack of confidence/lying)
    • lean towards speaker (says I’m listening) 
    • don’t look over someone’s shoulder 
    • eye contact (7-10 seconds)
    • be mindful of hands as covering face often is perceived as your are hiding something 
    • nod when listening

  • Conversation
    • Avoid engaging in conversations regarding politics and religion as individuals often have very passionate viewpoints that when disagreements occur can interfere with a professional work relationship
    • It is inappropriate to discuss salary with each other. HR has a system that they use to determine salaries. This process provides each individual with a salary aligned to their years of service, years in leadership, and the position hired for. The process allows for equity in pay. 

  • Social Media
    • Although the 1st Amendment guarantees the freedom of speech it does not guarantee freedom from consequences. Many individuals have experienced drastic personal and professional  ramifications for expressing their personal viewpoints through this medium. Know that anything you post can be digitized and fwd to anyone. 
    • Be aware that as a public employee you are always under scrutiny for how you appear in photos, your responses to posts, what you like/dislike, and the associations that you make.  
    • Be careful who you friend”, subscribe”, and  follow” as this has been used against public servants in the past

  • Placement/Staffing Decisions
    • Must always be based on data
    • Placement is always an ARD/IEP decision, not one particular person

Forms