The lesson was teaching year 11 students and then allowing them time to implement the new skills into their coursework. On the day in question I revisited applying transitions in Flash as a starter and then students were to carry on building their 30 second animation.
Students had been finding this challenging, especially when dealing with multiple layers; therefore I spent a lot of time going around helping with problems.
Whilst bending over I saw a flash out of the corner of my eye, immediately I turned around to see what had happened, assuming someone had used a phone camera. I was somewhat shocked to see a girl with a camera in her hand, and then she proceeded to take my picture.
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Asking her what she was doing she said as they were leaving soon she was taking pictures of her friends. I told her it was unacceptable in lesson in the first place and that she had no right to take my picture. At this point I made her delete the picture in front of me and show all images on the camera to check she had not taken any others surreptitiously of me or any other staff. I then asked her to switch it off and give it to me.
As this was a major incident my mentor then took her out of the room to chastise her, there had already been a case of the school requesting a Facebook site being removed as it was defamatory to teachers in the school.
I was pleased in the first instance that I dealt with it effectively and positively, this was reinforced by the fact that my mentor did not intervene immediately but let me deal with the initial incident.
Pupils today have an increasing amount of technology available to them and can disrupt classes. These can vary from listening to music on MP3 devices to telephones and even cameras. This can result in class disruption when students use these devices in class. My placement has a policy of allowing phones and music devices, resulting in policing the classroom for people using devices and confiscation on the second warning. The school where I am an instructor has a zero tolerance not allowing devices, stating they could be stolen and there is always a school phone available. It would be unrealistic to assume no student has a phone, but with stringent punishments you never see one, allowing me to give more time to teaching. Whilst Alan Steer talks about the possibility of confiscation of phones,
‘The backing which the law now provides to school staff who confiscate items such as mobile phones from pupils if they are being used inappropriately, or maliciously.’
Behaviour Standards in our Schools – Section 6, page 9, Steer Report (2010)
It does help teachers if something malicious is happening, it does not help in the case of general disruption, and it would be difficult when school policy allows students to carry phones to say using a phone is malicious. It is evident that schools need to be aware of technology and its capabilities before students are. This is a problem given that the age group that are the most receptive to technology so are in fact likely to be always pushing the boundaries. This is supported by Steve Nadia in his findings and reported on the Riggs Institute website, he who says that a child’s brain burns far more glucose below sixteen years of age than an adult does. This results in far greater brain activity and there is a general consensus that children are far more at ease with technology than older people,
Modern technology allows different forms bullying, traditional types are taken to a newer level happy slapping being posted on Youtube for the world to see. Cyber bullying is done without the perpetrator seeing the result as it is done remotely in the form of texts and postings on social networking sites.
Whilst Capel et al (page 140, 2009) discusses teachers having a duty to tackle bullying and the
‘pack entitled Bullying: Don’t Suffer in Silence (including a video amed at pupils)(DCSF, 2008c)’
All of these reports only assume children are the victims of bullying which is untrue.
‘It found that one in seven teachers have been cyber bullied and of those, 68% had received unpleasant emails, 26% had been the subject of abuse on websites and 28% had received abusive text messages.’ Teaching Times [Online]
This type of bullying is also reported by The Telegraph [Online] on 25th June 2008 about school boys bullying their teacher, also describing other instances of adults and students being bullied. There is another report by The Telegraph [Online] on 10th January 2009 reporting of exclusions of pupils for bullying a teacher.
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Some argue that not seeing the victim makes it seem like a lesser crime and that the bully is unlikely to show remorse for exactly the same reasons. This explains reasons for cyber bullying and it’s increase, unfortunately the
The Bristol Guide, something I find invaluable also tends to address issues of the students and nothing regarding duty of care to the teachers.
Whilst policies are in place this does not stop things happening, it only allows the use of sanctions against perpetrators. Policies need to be updated regularly in the case of modern technology, looking at them yearly and updating them is not necessarily enough regarding the use of the Internet. They need updating as soon as new possibilities of breaching them arise and staff should to be proactive in this.
It seems hard to believe but in the last decade the teaching profession has had to deal with the advent of the first mass produced affordable camera phones according to P C World [online], backed up by another article on Wikipedia. Since then there has been video phones, and smart phones allowing immediate postings to the Internet. There has over the last decade also been a boom in social networking sites with the main ones being, Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, My Space and Windows Live Spaces. With each new technology becomes new ways to circumvent the rules, therefore the need for fore thinking policy writing in this area is paramount.
I have learnt several things from this incident and my reflection, whilst teaching a modern technology, I realise that devices students bring can disrupt and slow the pace of the lesson.
There is difficulty in policing student use of devices i.e. you can confiscate phones being used maliciously immediately (Steer), otherwise it requires warning slowing down the lesson and learning. Therefore operating a total ban on phones removes the temptation of use to students and effectively increases the learning experience.
Students are easily able to create sites defamatory to school staff on social networking sites. It needs someone to find them and then ask the social networking site to remove it, although it may be possible to sue the person posting material for defamation of character, it could in reality be difficult. The onus is on the victim to find the offending publication as the Website has no legal obligation to vet material posted. You tube has been in trouble regarding the posting of copyrighted material, first highlighted by Tim Webber (BBC [online] 10th October 2006). Since then there has been a high profile case brought by Viacom as reported by Bobbie Johnson (guardian.co.uk [online] 4th July 2008), this was to as You tube owners Google to give names and IP addresses of people submitting copyrighted work to allow Google to prosecute the perpetrators. The case never came to court in fact in a blaze of publicity on July 23rd it was thrown out of court as reported by Erick Schonfeld (TechCrunch), as a landmark case it was reported in many technical publications another reporter being Janko Roettgers (Gigaom).
Whilst there is no rules for Inernet companies to vet postings it will always be harder for schools to find defamatory sites, and probably the best way is for teachers to be vigilant and listen for talk of possible sites when on duty in the playground etc.
Freedom of speech is an issue that could be used against taking down of defamatory sites, as long as the site does not slander teachers it would be argued that students have a right to comment on teacher’s performance in the same way as they might in the playground. Of course there are other implications, whilst a comment made at school may only reach several hundred as stories are passed on to friends, parents and other adults, once published on the web it is available to be seen by millions of people.
- Simmons C and Hawkins C, Teaching ICT, Developing as a Reflective Teacher, Sage Publications, 2009.
- Capel S, Leask Mand Turner T, Learning to Teach in the Secondary School – A Companion to School Experience, 5th Edition, 2009.
- Kennewell S, Parkinson J and Tanner H, Learning to Teach ICT in the Secondary School – A Companion to School Experience, Routledge Falmer, 2007.