The Code of Ethics for teachers, as stated by the NZ Education Council, is summarised as:
- Commitment to learners
- Commitment to parents/guardians and parents/whanau
- Commitment to society
- Commitment to the profession
As a registered teacher, it is therefore my duty to
- establish and maintain professional relationships with my students and colleagues
- take an interest in my students, including their activities outside of class
- develop lessons that differentiate students with learning needs
- speak to families sooner rather than later (as per school policy as well) if a student is experiencing problems (either in class or in my pastoral role as a tutor)
- ensure that psych reports and contact details about students are not shared with others, accidentally or deliberately, so that their privacy is respected
- try and make all of my students feel respected and a valued member of the class, regardless of gender, ethnicity or religious affiliation
- meet deadlines and be collegial in my professional relationships with fellow teachers and administrators
- keep up-to-date in the fields of computer science and coding; especially important in the technology fields when the digital landscape changes and develops frequently!
In my school we have a vision of being an “exceptional learning community” where all students are provided with “a stimulating, safe and nurturing environment” (ACG Parnell College staff handbook). In addition to this, a separate Code of Conduct is included in the wider life of the school for international students; students from other parts of the world, often where English is NOT their first language and/or students live with homestays. Helping them to integrate within NZ society and the school is considered just as important as their academic progress. This is because the usual support mechanisms of family, which many domestic students take as granted, are substituted by the school for international students.
An ethical dilemma that I have encountered when teaching Middle School ICT (Years 7 to 10) is related to websites that students may use. For example, Tinkercad, like many websites, requires that students be aged 13 years or older. This is due to regulations enforced by the American government (where many websites are hosted). Therefore, students in Years 7-8 and sometimes in Year 9 are technically not allowed to create accounts and whilst they may use the site, they cannot save their work. The issue with Tinkercad is that provisions for using the site with student accounts is still not as good as it good be. Students under the age of 13 years need to be verified, either by a parent or teacher, but the system does not work smoothly for the teacher options. Tinkercad have said that they are working on providing better/easier options for educators in this area, but sometimes we’re at the mercy of the website developers rather than the technology itself. Many websites that are commonly used for educational purposes, including the likes of Scratch, have these same issues. My approach to date has mainly been to either find a different option or, if all else fails, spend more time than is efficient to set up verified accounts for younger students. The reason for taking a seemingly longer option at times, such as Tinkercad, is that although I could fake year of birth with creating accounts, I’d (ethically) prefer not to. Not only does this grate against the registered teachers code of ethics, but it also goes against my own values. Just because it is possible to do something online, doesn’t mean that it should.