I’ve called this blog ‘camera in the classroom’ because one of the best pieces of advice I ever received as a beginning teacher was that in my dealings with students, colleagues, and parents I should imagine it’s being documented on camera and that I will be required to explain the reasons for what I said, and what I did.
This has become a habit.
It hasn’t made me more ethical….Gosh, I like to hope I don’t need that, but it has made me much more aware of the power of my response to situations. And, handily, as I got in the habit of ‘reviewing’ situations that were problematic during a day, I started thinking of ways it could have been handled better. After a certain number of years, the same situations start to crop up so I had a bank of experience and considered responses to trade on.
The great thing about having that invisible eye is that it makes you aware of what’s a ‘barmy’ response, and what’s a battle you should be fighting. Generally, the stakeholders I am most interested in are the students I teach, or the students I have a relationship of trust with as a mentor or sports coach. And if I can clearly justify and explain the actions I take, the things I say, the way I conduct myself, then I’m happy to say I’m behaving ethically at all times.
Can we all just share a Walter the oldtimer/Anne the wowser moment? It’s hard to believe that some us started teaching when caning was still a viable option for classroom control. I was ‘Anne the wowser’ when, as a fresh-faced youngster, starting my teaching a year after caning was finally banned, I suggested to the old-timers that the abolition of said caning was a sensible course of action. Mocking laughter, cries of ‘lefty, new-fangled ideas’, ‘didn’t do me no harm’ and ‘the students will turn into a rabble, mark my words’, echoed over my head as I hastily beat a retreat from the withering contempt and sneers of my older colleagues.
But, I think we got that call right. Certainly, the idea that students were once beaten for spelling mistakes is now considered, rightly, barbaric. It’s an ever-evolving debate over what is ethically correct at certain points in history….I’m interested to see how we will be judged on our handling of social media postings in the future. Will future teachers, in their shiny, silver uniform jumpsuits look back and marvel at how lax we were with teachers, parents, and students posting images of themselves and others? Or will they look back and laugh that we made a fuss at all?
It’s an intriguing thought.
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 http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Culture/Developing-leaders/What-Ought-I-to-Do-All-Things-Considered-An-Approach-to-the-Exploration-of-Ethical-Problems-by-Teachers