You are an example to your students. Your behaviors, decisions, and attitudes are all on display in class and on campus. For better or for worse, every moment spent as an educator is a “teachable moment,” which will shape the young and impressionable. By the time students move on from your class or campus, they will have formed a mental impression of you which will forever shape their understanding of how people are supposed to behave.
No pressure, right? The problem when we face these situations is the same problem we face everywhere in life: we are human. We stumble; we will stumble again. Students will eventually notice our errors. Nevertheless, and despite the inevitable mistakes, we can still leave students with a better understanding of good and honest behavior.
“Integrity is the essence of everything successful.”R. Buckminster Fuller
Integrity (or its absence) exists behind all our behaviors, decisions, and attitudes. It is the good faith, the honest intent, and the well-meaning that underpins both our triumphs and failures. It is the thing which – when abundant – allows us to look past a person’s apparent failures, and the thing which – when lacking – causes us to question a person’s apparent success.
So no, you cannot be a flawless example of good behavior to your students. But you can be a strong example of integrity to your students. You can show them that, in a world of shortcuts, quick fixes, and easy outs, HOW a person achieves is more important than WHAT a person achieves. By consistently acting with integrity, a person lays the foundation for a life filled with meaning and purpose, even in the presence of error and failure.
Make it a great day, dear educator, and teach integrity by example.