Saturday, 18 June 2016

Ethics in my practice...

My ethics are what determine how I react in different situations and might be different from someone of a different cultural or religious background. However, there is a code of practice that governs our behaviour as teachers: Code Of Ethics for Certified Teachers.
The key focus is that in dealing sith students, whanau, colleagues, The BOT, cluster colleages.....
  • We treat people with respect
  • We nurture all students and encourage them to think critically
  • We promote student wellbeing
  • We collaborate with whanau for the good of their child
  • We respect privacy and confidentiality
  • We collaborate with and support colleagues 
  • We promote our school in a positive manner
There was probably much more but this seems to be the essence of it.... and should be what is at the foundation of all my actions as a teacher.

What happens when you throw the ever-changing aspect of social media into the mix? Keeping our students safe becomes a much more challenging task than it was 20 years ago.

I have been blogging with my class for at least 6 years, students have had individual blogs for three years and my students have been using Titter as a reflective tool for the same amount of time. According to the NZ Teacher's Council (2012) the purpose of using social media must be established and I can attest that blogging has increased student writing due to a sense of ownership and audience. Using Twitter allows for the succinct sharing of reflections and both of these tools allows us to connect with a wider community of learners, where we can begin to collaborate and have access experts from around the world. 

So how do my personal ethics and choices protect both me and students from potential issues?
I migh not call myself an early adopter but I was pretty close behind. I value the professional support I gain through Twitter and the opportunities that social media bring to education. But how can I make use of this resource and keep myself professionally 'safe' in my professional environment?

My personal twitter account @kiwiallana is where I share my learning as a teacher, blog posts and Mindlab assignments. I am careful to make my posts positive and think carefully about what is professionally appropriate for posting. This account is not shared with students. 

The class share a separate account @coolkiwikids where they post reflections and images from class. These are identified only with a first name and images must be checked before posting. 

My personal Facebook account is very inactive but does allow me to connect with family overseas and is mainly limited to how my garden is growing or how many mice the cat has caught - nothing that could be a bad example to students should they 'happen' to see any of the posts. I do not 'friend' students or their parents. I have also chosen to not 'friend' the school so that my personal Facebook account has no connection with my professional life. I do know of a colleague who was intentionally 'stalked' by students and understand the importance of keeping everything professionally appropriate and separate.

Digital Ethical Issue:
Within the school environment, we have so many systems in place to protect our students but have also been very lucky to not have had many major issues arise. As a result, I will unpack something that I can see being a possible digital issue.
All senior students at our school have personal 'Blogger Blogs' and Google Drives which are tracked through Hapara Dashboard. Students have completed a series of 'Cyber Citizenship' lessons at the beginning of the year, signed annual safety and image sharing contracts then completed a BYOD Quiz before creating their own 'safe' password and learning about how to use their blog. This year our inquiry included lessons on blogging skills including their digital foodptints and acknowledging sources. There are still workshops being run throughout the year for students to upskill in this area.

The educational purpose of these blogs are for student writing, reflection and to share their learning with family and the wider learning community. We train students to make constructive comments on one-another's work with clear next steps as they are AKO kids and are excellent teachers of their peers.

But what happens if a student posts an inappropriate image of another on their blog, or makes 'bullying' type comments on another student's work or in the form of an e-mail?

Hall (2001) would suggest that there are a series of questions to ask when dealing with a digital issue. For us the steps would be very clear and based on the contract signed which determines our school expectations.

This type of behaviour would be picked very qucikly. Any posts, comments or e-mails would be sent to our ICT co-oridnator and teachers via the 'Linewise' and 'inappropriate word' filter. We also have the protocol of students only saving blog posts with TBC (To Be Checked), then the teacher giving advice or posting the piece for them, until they have earned the right for independent posting.

The facts of the incident would be unpacked then students and parents would be referred back to the signed contract about appropriate use of ICT. As a restorative school, the people harmed would be identified and a way to restore this relationship would be set in place with the students involved. If it was a more serious case, a restorative conference would be set up between the two families, with a trained facilitator to unpack the steps required to restore the relationships, a plan and monitoring would be set in place. In all instances there could be a period where the student was removed from the school wiifi, followed by close supervision and tracking.

Any learning opportunities would be unpacked from this event for the remainder of the class and the need for futher training in what is 'appropriate use' would be establised and carried out. Systems would be reviewed to see ifchanges need to be made for the future.

Pandora has been let out of the box and in most instances, devices and social media are an effective tool in making connections, collaboration and sharing learning. There could be no suggestion that these tools should be removed from our classrooms. We do, however, need to have strong systems in place to protect our students from potential issues that might arise. 


Hall, A. (2001). What ought I to do, all things considered? An approach to the exploration of ethical problems by teachers. Paper presented at the IIPE Conference, Brisbane. Retrieved from

Henderson, M., Auld, G., & Johnson, N. F. (2014). Ethics of Teaching with Social Media. Paper presented at the Australian Computers in Education Conference 2014, Adelaide, SA. Retrieved from
Ministry of Education. (2015). Digital technology- Safe and responsible use in school. Retrieved from

New Zealand Teachers Council.(2012). Establishing safeguards.[video file]. Retrieved from


  1. I wonder about the use of Facebook in education. In the past it has been effective for communicating with classes through Facebook groups (so you don't have to 'friend' students). But I wonder if students (I work with teenagers) will move or have moved away from this forum (because it's where the old people are) or if they still use it, don't want their feed to be interrupted by school stuff. Where is the home-school divide when we are promoting anytime, anywhere learning?

  2. I see your point of view. Teenagers seldom want to be seen using the same things as their parents or even grandparents. In primary school we have the issue of the leagal age of students accessing Facebook so Google Drive or Blogger Blog in A GAFE school or using a Teacher managed Twitter account is our only option.

    I have many students who select to continue their writing at home because they are motivated and excited about it. This is their choice but you are right in wondering where the time for learning through just hanging out with your mates, playing sport or other 'childhood activities' disappears to when children are expected to LEARN or DO school work at home, anytime!

  3. Whichever forum we use or our students use, it's important that we acknowledge that our students will be online somewhere. It's important we both model and facilitate good digital literacy and citizenship. We have too frequent issues with students - and their parents - who don't realise the damage they are doing by posting particular thoughts and opinions online.

  4. Kia ora e hoa!
    Digital footprints are more like "tattoos" these days, hard to erase!
    Our school is similar (GAfE, Linewise) and BYOD. We are now teaching digital citizenship sessions weekly, following the Commonsense Media scope and sequence, from Year 3 (age 6.5-7).
    Kia pai ou rā ~ Happy days!

    1. I am very excited about you starting Mindlab this coming week. You are beginning a rollercoaster journey of exciting things to test, question yourself about and re-visit in the classroom.

      The technology aspect is great. I particularly loved the MAkey MAkey and bout 7 sets for my classroom! Yippee - hours of engaged students!

      On the learning side - make sure you take notice of the Agile Approach. I can see this will be invaluable when supporting inquiry groups complete their collaborative projects.

      Have fun and make sure you come and ask if you need help.

      WARNING - get started on your Literature Review as soon as that part of the course begins. It takes much longer than expected!

      Kia kaha e hoa ma - you will love it!


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