It's become clear to me that in the Age of COVID, with the extreme uptick in online study, a number of people have very clearly lost sight of the code of ethics invoved in their training or professional development. It's also more likely than ever that many people who are tutoring online have no teaching certificate, training, or any credentials at all, however, and lack any training in professional ethics.
This. Is. A. Problem.
Professional ethics matter a lot. Ethics are not the same thing as morals. Morals are personal; ethics are a public code. Professional, social, political, educational arenas all have codes of ethics, whether they are written or not. You can be an immoral person but still engage in ethical behavior. IOW, I don't really care if you're cheating on your boyfriend or drinking too much in the evenings, but I definitely care if you are ethical when working with your own clientele, especially children and families.
Even if you carry professional liability insurance, you may not be covered in cases of ethical breaches. I'm not a lawyer, and this isn't legal advice, but I've hired my own share of lawyers, including for my business. Not only am I credentialed myself in an accredited training program that includes a professional ethics component; I also spent more than a decade training other people in professional and ethical behavior and protocols. I have undergone countless hours of continuing education in professional ethics as a university employee and as a clinical employee.
Even if you are not a credentialed teacher or clinician and have had no official training in professional ethics, you are still liable for the legal and ethical strictures of confidentiality, privacy, and consent, whether or not you write them into your own terms and conditions.
I was considering offering a Pop-Up Professional Ethics class, and maybe I still will. But honestly, more and more, I'm thinking this is something I should charge for.
[Side note – Joke's on me. After my last post about raising rates, I learned that it's not possible for me to raise rates on the site; the site hosts want me to increase my readership instead. Sigh.]
So, I'm thinking that a Professional & Ethical Behavior certificate might be something that's called for, and in keeping with the topic, I should offer it as a short professional course series rather than as just a free Pop-Up.
In case you're thinking, "Oh, I don't need that," that's cool. If you are someone who's done graduate work, perhaps you have experience with an Institutional Review Board that taught you about working with human subjects. Or perhaps you are a certified teacher or speech pathologist who would absolutely know better than to be ethically careless when something or someone shiny comes along, because of your own professional training and credentials.
Here's the thing, Readers. I'm trying to finish my a complete draft of my dissertation this month, and instead, this past week, I've lost sleep and countless hours of dissertation time because of ethical breaches in this study community. Worse, perhaps, than the breaches themselves are those of you who stood around starry-eyed and complicit and – worst of all – totally un-fucking-questioning while it happened.
I value facts and accuracy and integrity. I take being a leader very seriously. I didn't seek it or ask for it, and I don't always like it, but here I am. And I don't treat the attendant obligations lightly.
I know my reputation. I know that I'm a little scary or a whole lot bitchy or whatever you want to call it. I've already lost count of the number of times I've been tone-policed this week alone. I'm sure I pissed off a client when I e-yelled at her for nagging me about an upload before I even woke up on Passover / Easter Saturday. But goddamnit, I'm not wantonly unkind. And y'all can gossip behind my back that I'm being competitive or acting threatened or being mean or whatever, but you know I am fucking right about this. And I am also really, really disappointed. So disappointed. And I'm angry that I'm doing this with my left eyeball on fire and a knife up the back of my neck at 11:36pm instead of sleeping so that I can continue my work coherently on my dissertation tomorrow.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, good. Consider yourself spared, and let me know whether you'd consider signing up for a paid Professional & Ethical Behavior LEXinar when I am more cheerful about it. There's no question that there is an urgent need in this community, and I think my expertise in the area is worth your money if you'd like access to it.
If you DO know what I'm talking about, you had better be interested before somebody's lawyer is.