Ethics Part I
Shodor > SUCCEED > Curriculum > Apprentices > Ethics Part I


Lesson Abstract

Working as a professional in today's business environment requires a measure of tact, integrity, and communications skills, both written and oral. What you say and how you say it will ultimately become the standard by which you are known. Just as there is more than one way to "skin a cat", also as varied are the styles of communication that professionals use to get their point across. Ultimately, though, the main goal is to deliver a crisp, clear message to the hearer. "Beating around the bush" only tends to lower others' opinions of you. Likewise, harshness and sharpness of voice is not a show of authority. Respect authority and it will in return respect you. It is more effective to follow the golden rule, "treat others as you would want to be treated". This keeps the playing field level. This lesson makes use of lecture, presentations, live illustrations, and student interactivity to help the student grasp the concept of office ethics. Random group question and answer periods are used to gauge the students grasp of presented ideas. Open feedback from students is welcomed during the class. Per the instructor's direction, a student may be asked to volunteer to help present more focus on a particular idea. This class contains no labs or computer usage on the student's part.

Note: This lesson plan references several terms used at Shodor throughout its entirety. The terms Shodor as the organization's name, and Intern, Apprentice, or staff as hierarchical entities may be freely and suitably substituted without changing the intended content of this document.

Standards Addressed

  • N/A


  • Show the importance of bodily cleanliness
  • Emphasize good dressing techniques
  • Facilitate interpersonal respect
  • Invoke appropriate business language
  • Inspire professional behavior
  • Discourage harassment
  • Emphasize time management

Key Terms


Prerequisite Knowledge

Student should be of 6th grade standing or higher.

Teacher Preparation

Instructor should have a basic knowledge of office ethics and good interpersonal skills, either by formal training or by experience. Live illustrations and skits should be prepared prior to class.


Required MaterialsMediaEquipment

  • 1 desk
  • 1 office chair
  • 1 plastic drink cup
  • 6 small marbles
  • 1 sports outfit (sunglasses, jersey, athletic shoes, cap)
  • 1 board with markers (or chalk)

  • Power point file (optional)

  • Computer and projector for instructor


Be familiar with the area's emergency evacuation and other emergency safety procedures.

Presentation Outline


6 minutes

After students arrive, the instructor enters, wearing the sports outfit with the shoes untied and the cap worn backwards casually. He greets the class and starts with the Introduction.

Class and Staff Introduction

  1. Have the staff and students introduce themselves.
  2. Introduce the class objectives, student behavioral expectations, scheduled breaks, and other up-front pertinent information.

By the time the instructor finishes item 2 in "Personal Ethics Management", most students will question the improper attire, and the instructor should address these questions. The instructor should leave the class momentarily, change into proper attire and make comments when he returns to class.

Personal Ethics Management

20 minutes

This section will highlight the personal attributes needed in a business environment. The following ideas should help foster a healthy work relationship. The instructor is encouraged to expand on each idea with an example or related fictitious scenario.

  1. Individuals must dress appropriately. Apprentices and Interns must dress in a way that is morally correct and meets the requirements of their business office. Some professional establishments require suits; others have a more relaxed casual approach to dress. A good rule of thumb is to wear the type of clothing that your superiors wear. In some cases, logoed T-shirts are not allowed.
  2. Individuals should make sure that clothing articles are clean and neatly pressed. Shirts are typically tucked in. Over-sized clothing is discouraged. Sagging is not permitted. Shoes should be polished and free of debris. Individuals should be neatly groomed and pleasantly fragrant. (By this time, students should be questioning the instructor's apparel. There should be some discussion, followed by the instructor's departure from the class to change apparel. The instructor returns, appropriately dressed, and continues the discussion.)
  3. Be Prompt.
    • Most employers have little sympathy for those individuals who are habitually late for their jobs. However, arriving late every now and then is often overlooked. Offer to make up lost time. This shows employee integrity.
    • Some employers have flexible start and stop times. Adhere to your agreed upon time.
    • Be ready to start work by the appointed time, not just showing up.
    • Don't be too eager to leave "right on the money". It may appear that you don't like your job and are working just for the money.
    • Inform your employer if you are going to be late.
    • Don't grumble about others being late; the boss knows it.
    • If you don't like your job, let the boss know it. He may re-assign you.
    • Address the following questions:
      • If an employee is consistently late, what should he/she do? - He/she should change their starting and stopping times to fit their schedule.
      • How soon should an employee arrive to his/her work destination? An employee should arrive a few minutes before his/her start time.
  4. Check your relationships. Undoubtedly, Apprentices and/or Interns will develop social relationships while at Shodor. These relationships should remain as work relationships. Sometimes, personal interests arise between individuals which can have a profound impact on their work. Apprentices and Interns should refrain from "courting" or taking an otherwise active personal interest in others while on Shodor business and remember that they are at Shodor to work. Complicated emotional situations can arise if this practice is not kept to a minimum. Friendship bonding is acceptable. (Discuss the perils of romantic relationships in the workplace. Ie., lack of privacy, bad time management, jealousy, envy, mis-use of asset...) Give an example or relate the following anecdote as to how romantic relationships can be detrimental to a working environment.
    • Peter and Jill are two apprentices at Shodor. They are in the same track, and they frequently see each other as they go on about their Shodor business. Over time, they develop a good friendship. However, Peter starts to like Jill more as a friend. He wants to see her more and more, and he starts coming to Shodor at particular times exclusively to see Jill. Instead of doing his assignments, he goes over to talk to Jill. Jill really likes Peter as well, and the two engage in a romantic relationship. They spend all their working time at Shodor flirting with each other. After a few weeks, though, Peter loses interest in Jill, and he starts liking another girl. He breaks up with Jill and starts dating the other girl. Jill is heartbroken, and she goes through complex emotions. The next time Peter and Jill see each other at Shodor, it's a very awkward situation for both, and they cannot focus on their work. Shodor becomes an emotional burden for Peter and Jill, and they drop out of the program.
    • Discuss what's wrong with this example and point out certain things that went wrong. Have students related their own ideas or experiences in relation to the problem.

The Professional Office

20 minutes

This section will address the personal business ethics that are expected of individuals working in an office environment. The instructor should encourage class participation. Discuss or illustrate each idea presented below.

  1. Use professional language. Individuals should always be aware of who is in their immediate vicinity. Language should never be offensive or corrupt. Profanity or ethnic slurs are never part of the Shodor creed, and such language should never be used at Shodor or while representing Shodor. The use of profanity shows lack of respect for your peers or superiors.
  2. Avoid horse playing. A professional office is no place for horse play. Individuals are expected to conduct themselves professionally at all times. Horse play has no place in the workplace. Avoid running in the office except for emergencies or when an activity dictates it.
  3. Do Not Harass. Harassment, especially of the sexual variety, has no place in the Shodor office. Sexual harassment is often judgmental, and where the line is drawn varies widely among the harassed. Apprentices and Interns must use wisdom in their spoken and physical expressions. Being careless in this area will ultimately end up in embarrassment and possibly criminal activity. No form of inappropriate touching should be on Shodor premises or while on Shodor business. Tendencies that could be interpreted as sexually explicit should be avoided.
    • The instructor should emphasize that Communicating threats or harassing remarks will ultimately result in quick dismissal of employment and a tarnished work record.
  4. Practice good posture. Positioning oneself with good posture is an attribute of good work ethics. Proper sitting height and angle at a desk can minimize eyestrain and body aches, and can make the workday more exciting and less strenuous. (Illustrate improper and proper postures.)
  5. Never lean in chairs such that the rollers or feet lose contact with the floor. Don't spin continuously in a pedestal chair. Make sure that chairs are adjusted such that the work area is reasonably comfortable. (Illustrate these positions.)
  6. Avoid sitting with your feet on the desk, especially while sitting in a chair which has rollers. It is a good idea to sit straight with your back resting against the chair's backrest, and not with the backrest in front of you, straddling the chair. Sitting in this position provides no back support and promotes accidents. Additionally, some people sit in another unstable position with their feet up, crouched in the chair, possibly creating an unbalanced situation, contributing to a fall or spill. (Illustrate the positions.)
  7. Don't Sit on the Desks! While desks and tables may be able to withstand the weight offered by a staff, Intern, or Apprentice, it is inappropriate to use a desk or table as a place to sit. It is unprofessional, offers no back support, may cause premature replacement of that furniture item, and the boss does not like his employees sitting on furniture.
  8. Keep the area clean. The work area should be free of debris and accident causing objects. Never open or consume liquids near computers, keyboards, peripherals, or other electrical equipment. One spill can be costly. (Use the cup with marbles to simulate a liquid and accidentally spill the marbles onto a computer keyboard.) Keep the work area neatly arranged. Keep aisles clear. Remember to place recyclable materials in the appropriate container.


4 minutes

Students should learn to take a common sense approach to maintaining good mannerism while working in a professional business office environment. Students should be able to explain the benefits of dressing appropriately, addressing co-workers politely, and practicing professional behavior.

Follow Up

It is strongly recommended that students completing this class enroll in the Ethics II class.

Alternate Outline

This course can be presented using the optional power point file. Mini-skits can be used to amplify the points outlined in this course.