Oaths

In a conversation the other day, I told a friend I felt like some of the assessments I’m asked to administer make me feel like I’m breaking the teacher’s Hippocratic Oath. Then, in an unrelated email from another friend, I was challenged to write a teacher’s Hippocratic Oath. I figured two unrelated conversations about teachers and teaching and Hippocratic Oaths was basically a sign. So I sat down with a copy of Louis Lasagna’s oath (I am not kidding, that is actually his name) and sketched out one of my own.

It’s not perfect yet. There are bits that are still too doctor-y, and bits that are a little flowery for my tastes.

But it’s a start. An oath. A promise.

***

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant.

I will remember that I teach developing human beings, not behaviors, test scores, or statistics. My ultimate commitment is to the children in my care. Children’s lives are given over to me each day, and it is my solemn duty to protect their security, self-concept, and well-being while providing an environment in which they can flourish.

I will remember that teaching is as much art as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding are the eternal undercurrents of any new technique or technology.

I will respect the wisdom, experience, and hard-won gains of those teachers in whose steps I walk, and will share my knowledge openly and collaboratively with those who follow me.

I will do my utmost to provide each child with an education that allows the child to become a conscious citizen, a flourishing member of society, and a member of the global community. I will love what I teach and pass that love of learning on to my students.

I will provide, with empathy and respect, the educational services that each student needs, regardless of but accounting for race, culture, language, disability, gender, poverty, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other characteristics.

I will remember that teaching is not simply about delivering content, but also about supporting children to develop emotional, physical, and spiritual resilience. I teach children not only what the world is made of, but how to be whole within it.

I will continue to grow as a teacher, learning new methods, new ways of seeing, and new ways of responding to my students’ needs. I will learn in collaboration with my colleagues.

I will accept that there are many factors in a child’s life outside my control, and that I cannot meet every need at every moment.

I will ensure that my health and stability remain a priority, because in neglecting them I neglect the well-being of the children in my care.

May I always act to preserve the finest traditions of my calling, and may I long experience the joy of teaching without question or hesitation all those who walk through my classroom door.