I don’t often get ill, but I do recall one time when I was exceptionally sick my first year teaching high school. I was a brand new teacher wrapping up my first year as a high school English teacher. I came down with laryngitis, which is not good, especially since I was also the speech and debate coach at the time. At the end of the school year we give finals and I was also scheduled to take the speech and debate team to Alabama for their national tournament. Being ill, and having laryngitis (which meant I couldn’t talk), made the last few days of school quite difficult.
Seeing that I was in pain and unable to speak, my principal offered several suggestions for me to successfully finish my school year and take my team to Alabama. My first problem was going to be the final exams. Being the administrator for the tests, I would have to speak the majority of the time. My principal was helpful, in that she was able to get parent volunteers to help with testing. These parents would be trained and able to be the administrator for the tests. This worked perfectly for me because I was unable to speak. I was able to serve as the proctor and my job was merely passing out materials.
Since laryngitis takes about a week to heal, I was not out of the dark with my trip to Alabama. I was anxious because I was going to be in charge of several students, taking them to another state by plane, and I couldn’t speak…
Luckily, my principal was (is) amazing and was able to find an assistant to come with me. I had to go as the head coach, because that was the only way my students could compete. Having the assistant made the trip with the students much smoother. My assistant was my voice for the first part of the trip, which made the whole experience much more enjoyable for everyone. I was fortunate to have been able to go and to have the help!
According to Arnett (2009), professional communication ethics promotes “goods of survival and competitiveness in the marketplace” (178). Now, a high school is not a “marketplace”, but it does need to survive and it does have a sense of competition. Schools are graded on how well students do on the end of year tests. Even though I was sick, I couldn’t just leave my school and students hanging. I, along with my principal, had to come up with a solution. I was willing to be there and give my time, while receiving help from the parent volunteer and my principal. Again, with the national competition, I received help from another volunteer.
Having a strong leader, like my principal, allowed me to negotiate and figure ways to finish up the school year strong even though I was ill. Strong leaders promote a strong communication ethic and help to achieve the common goal.
Arnett, R. C., Harden Fritz, J. M., & Bell, L. M. (2009). Communication Ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference. Los Angeles: Sage.