Camera in the Classroom:Blog 5 – Influence of Law and Ethics


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



  1. Thanks Greg – great idea having an invisible eye watching you and your every teaching move. My invisible eye is when I am running and retracing my steps back through the day – what I should have said, or should have done, or should have picked up on and run with. In my short teaching experience my one observation would have to be that things seem to move very fast and often (from what I hear from the seasoned campaigners) in a very cyclical fashion in education. I wonder how long before I start noticing ideas coming around again. Let’s hope I remain open-minded enough to embrace and feel challenged and excited by change.


  2. Great reflection Greg!

    I love this idea of having a ‘camera in the classroom’…well an invisible one at least. This immediately makes me think of dealings I have had with students and whether or not I would feel I behaved ethically. For the most part, I can confidently say yes, however, there are a few beginning teacher moments that I am thankful this wasn’t a thing.

    I wonder how this would change the way staff interact with the students if they all had this ‘fear’ of being watched daily and having to explain their actions/decisions etc…

    Love the way you have approached this week’s question. I wonder how far away this ‘reality’ may be.


  3. What a great reminder of what we should have running through our heads at all times. As I am now Co-teaching with 2 other teachers it helps to always have another pair of eyes watching whats happening that can support you in dealing with parents.


  4. As someone else who originally started teaching when caning was still ok, it seems unbelievable now that it use to happen. Ethically hard to defend. I know at that time it was used to support positive behaviour by making negative behaviours consequences so painful but…
    In relation to your comment on how we will be judged re images on the internet, I really do wonder about the benefits of people spending so much time on social media and the amount of information and images of themselves and family that they put out there. When John Parsons, a cyber safety expert, talked to parents at our school, he asked if they would happily give out photos of their children at the supermarket. Obviously no, yet many freely shared them on line, often with poor security settings, for all to see.


  5. I always tell my early primary students that the fire/security sensor is a Santa Eye at christmas time. Am I crossing an ethical barrier? I am outright lying -yes- but it supports most homes and my end of year exuberant student behaviour.

    Liked by 1 person

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