Monday, 26 February 2018

Fly on the Wall, or . . . Fly in the Ointment? Mindlab Activity 4

Reflecting on Legal and ethical contexts in my digital practice (Rolfe, G., Freshwater, D., Jasper, M., 2001).

Personal devices and social platforms, like Seesaw, are now the norm and whanau are becoming regular 'flies on our walls'.
The fly in the ointment is that we teachers could also be recorded, potentially in our worst moment, and for that recording to be instantly shared.

Image 1, Students Filming with iPad 30 (Flickinger, B., 2012)

1. The critical incident.

My students were mid video reflections with personal iPads when another teacher walked into the lesson, venting in a state of frustration.

Meanwhile, students completed their recordings, uploaded to Seesaw as per expectation and left for lunch. Approximately half the video reflections had recorded the outburst.

Figure 2. Reflective model. (Rolfe et al., 2001).

So What?
2. The competing forces that impacted on decision-making.

The ethical dilemma:

a) content belonged to multiple students,
b) the teacher is a valued colleague, who was recorded without her knowledge.

Digital information can be communicated rapidly, is hard to permanently delete and can be remotely accessed, (Ministry of Education, 2015). Had a student or parent used this footage with poor judgement, it could have resulted in a negative impact on our school community.

The Ministry of Education’s DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY: Safe and responsible use in schools (2015, p.37), offers a guideline for removing problematic digital information. It states “to delete only when it is appropriate, act promptly to prevent content spreading, thereby reducing any distress or harm that may be caused.”

It further warns that digital information can only be deleted with complete confidence if all copies are removed and cannot be restored or accessed from another source. Deleted only with “a clear understanding of what this action is aiming to achieve” and “the knowledge that this action could break or add the school to the chain of evidence.” (Ministry of Education, 2015, p.37).

3. My values, beliefs, and ethical orientations.

My instinct was to protect the teacher and the reputation of the school. However, I also had to consider that, if mishandled, my actions may cause further disruption.

4. The choice to act.

I removed the videos from student devices, blaming poor sound quality. This action protected both students and teacher as outlined in Scenario 5 (Ministry of Education, 2015, p.40):

Figure 3. Scenario 5. (Ministry of Education’s DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY, p.40, 2015)

In The Code of Professional Responsibility, this decision reflects: Commitment to the Teaching Profession, maintaining trust and confidence and particularly items 2 and 3.

Figure 4.  Our Code Our Standards, (Education Council, 2017).

And in The Standards for the Teaching Profession, it reflects: Professional Relationships:

Figure 5.  Our Code Our Standards (Education Council, 2017).

Now What?
5. Implications for the individual, organisation and the community.

Our school’s Privacy Policy only states "information on individuals is not to be released to a 3rd party without their permission".

Our Code of Conduct Policy has Serious Misconduct category about "verbal harassment or threatening behaviour against another staff member." If seen out of context by a parent, this recording may cause unnecessary concern.

Finally the policy for Objectionable Electronics Information has the most applicable information for this situation, even though it was conceived for dealing with students accessing inappropriate on-line content.

Figure 6.  Objectionable Electronics Information Policy (Kristin)

One recommendation is that digital policies are more regularly reviewed in recognition of quickly evolving conditions in this learning space.

When filming, I now arrange students around the room with the speaker’s back to a wall to minimise potential visual intrusion, and I step outside of the recording zone if a visitor arrives. I also refer students to our Digital Citizenship Poster:

Figure 7.  Digital Citizenship Poster (Kristin)

Against Zeichner and Liston’s five levels of reflection, (cited in Finlay, 2008, p.4), "Rapid” reflection and “Repair” were the two that I actioned.

Also considered are
  • MANAAKITANGA: creating a welcoming, caring and creative learning environment that treats everyone with respect and dignity, and 
  • the 1st aim in our 4th code about Commitment to Society.
Figure 8.  Our Code Our Standards. (Education Council, 2017).

What constitutes ethical behaviour is likely to be influenced by organisational, personal and cultural beliefs, rather than the Teaching Code. In Lyons’ (1990) research, teachers revealed that dilemmas were either ongoing or likely to recur, makes the point that ‘many of the dilemmas of teaching are not solvable and must simply be managed rather than resolved’ (p.168).


Education Council. (2017). Our Code Our Standards.Retrieved from:

Ehrich, L. C. , Kimber M., Millwater, J. & Cranston, N. (2011). Ethical dilemmas: a model to understand teacher practice, Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 17:2, 173-185, DOI: 10.1080/13540602.2011.539794

Finlay, L. (2009). Reflecting on reflective practice. PBPL. Retrieved from…

Flickinger, B., (2012). Students Filming with iPad 30. Retrieved from

Lyons, N. (1990). Dilemmas of knowing: Ethical and epistemological dimensions of teachers’ work and development. Harvard Educational Review, 60(2), 159–180.

Ministry of Education. (2015).DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY Safe and responsible use in schools. Wellington: New Zealand: Author. Retrieved from

Rolfe et al.'s reflective model, (2001). Adapted from: Rolfe, G., Freshwater, D., Jasper, M. (2001) Critical reflection in nursing and the helping professions: a user's guide. Retrieved from

School Policies and Digital citizenship document retrieved from Kristin school server.

With Love...



  1. Hi Timea, as always a very thoughtful reflection and analysis. To be honest I think a lot of the time situations like this find us in "Rapid" and "Repair" modes! Realistically we have to trust our professional judgement in many situations.

    Situations where the rights and interests of teachers and (versus?) students are played off against each other can be very tricky indeed, although in the end I would think the law would fall on the side of protecting minors. You were fortunate that none of your students had mischievously uploaded their videos already by the time you were able to correct the situation. Older students may well have done so. And fortunate that your students accepted your explanation and didn't make anything more of it. I hope your colleague appreciated how you covered for them!

    You should slip the Zeichner and Liston reference into your reference list.

    1. Thank you Nigel, done :) Yeah that is the lucky side that this happened with that middle primary age where they don't bother with that yet. However they could well showed their parents to share their video of learning and the cat would be out of the bag.
      A good reminder that prevention is better that the cure :)

  2. Hi Timea, thanks for sharing your incident with us. I feel you handled the situation in a positive and professional manner that supported all parties involved - students, colleague, school and yourself. You also reacted quickly so the issue was resolved before real damage was done. The part that impressed me the most was that you used it to improve your own practice. I hope you have shared this with your colleague and also hope they have appreciate your handling of the situation. It also serves as a reminder to us all, while at times we need to vent etc, we need to choose our time and place very carefully. Once again, thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you Kristen for your feedback. An awkward situation for sure but a timely reminder that we now live in a time of 'big brother' as forecast in the book 1984, a dystopian novel by George Orwell, published in 1949. Anonymity and privacy are a rare thing and so need to be protected. Funny how a mini meltdown (and lets face it we have all had one or two) is understandable in person with context, but when viewed on film and out of context, it can cause a huge unwarranted negative response from the online community. We have all seen such events through various feeds.
      All the best with the rest of your posts :)

  3. Hi Timea,
    A very thorough and insightful reflection. I thought you weighed up all of the conflicts and spin off dilemmas very well. Your use of a broad range of sources suggests that you and your school are a long way down the road of establishing sound policies and procedures. I'm still way behind editing my own ethical reflection because its so long but I used a dilemma that happened over a decade ago, supported by the Net Safe organisation. Please have a look at the Kit that they offer schools, it has a sound balance between student and staff support. The link:

    Great reflection
    Andy D.