Ethical Issues
Which are necessary to consider when making behavioral change decisions


Classroom management involves encouraging students to change their behaviors. However, before and during any change process the following Ethical Issues Must Be Considered.

Ethical decision screens when thinking about changing behavior

1. Model appropriate leadership

The student must see the educator’s behavior as positive. To do this, the educator must develop a relationship of genuine caring, trust, and respect with the child. The child will then model her/his behavior after the educator’s behavior.

2. Self-discipline

Because self-discipline is the goal of behavior management, teachers should encourage it in the classroom. By building respect and trust, the child will begin to feel the need to control her/his own behavior. This respect and trust can be fostered by positive interactions.

3. Match experiences to the student

Children should have positive experiences in school. An experience is usually positive if it is within the developmental stage of the child and has meaning for the child.

4. Show empathy

The educator needs to consider the child’s problems objectively to deal with them. Emotion inhibits objective thinking, while empathy allows us to view the problem from different perspectives.

5. High expectations

Teachers must communicate to children their belief in each child’s abilities and demand the highest achievement from them.

6. Freedom and independence to function

Children should be allowed as much independence to function as possible. If limits need to be established to avoid undo failure or injury students should be allowed to experience the logical consequences of their actions. This must be done to develop self-reliance and independence.

7. Principle of normalization

The child must be allowed to function in as normal an environment as possible.

8. Principle of fairness

The intervention must be fair and allow the child to succeed in school. If consequences are applied they must be appropriate with regard to the degree of the offense.

9. Principle of respect for dignity and worth of the individual

The intervention must provide the student an opportunity to learn or improve skills to master control over the student’s environment without degrading the individual as a human being.

10. A continuum of behavior management interventions

The educator should use the intervention which least restricts the child in the classroom, yet is still effective. Over-restricting the child imposes on the student’s rights within the classroom. (See continuum of strategies)

11. Behavior change must be rational and well planned

The behavior must be a behavior which hampers the child’s performance in the classroom, the educator must have a rationale for changing the behavior, and follow a behavioral change procedure that will result in the implementation of a behavioral strategy that is prescriptive to the behavior and does not violate the ethical considerations or due process. See SAT, MDT, and Behavior change steps.

12. Consent.

The educator should be sure to notify those involved with the child of the management procedures and obtain consent to proceed. This practice will help avoid conflict over the behavior intervention.


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Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes