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Have you ever had an ethical dilemma where you had to address it according to either a code of practice or a code of ethical principles?

Similarly enough, I have had a couple of incidences which have occurred but one stands out as it impacts on sharing like experiences with students in order to share learning with them about moral obligations and our reasons of having Codes of Behaviour in our school environment.

Social Media would have to be one of the most frustrating advancements of technology but the problem is not with the technology. Its with the people who use the software or the technology. A teaching staff member approached me one day after I had given the staff my monthly spiel about the use of cybersafety procedures and the impact of negative posting for students. She has had her page for a very long time and has on occasions accepted invitations from students, if not the students, she has accepted invitations from student teachers and parents of students? Is this ethical? however the point she wanted to make was that a 'Learning Assistant' who lives in the community and has friends who are parents of students had these friends before becoming a Learning Assistant, accepted an invitation from the Teacher.

The teacher not realising her problem saw that the Learning Assistant had ex-students on her page and also that those ex-students had current students as their friends. The teacher wanted me to speak with the Learning Assistant even though they worked together and knew each other so well. The ethical dilemma I had was how was I going to address this issue? My first reaction to the question was, "Can you not unfriend her?" "yes but I still want to keep her as my friend."

This is where I needed to be sure about 'how this was going to impact on Student Outcomes." Obviously I needed to find a way to turn this in to a positive action for our students and learn from this experience. So, how did I deal with it?

1. I asked the teacher to unfriend the Learning Assistant. I then gave the teacher an explanation about the situation with the learning assistant. 

2. I spoke with the Learning Assistant about the situation and the ethical dilemma the teacher faced. 

3. Explained the need for basically walking in the world with two hats - which aligned with a professional hat and a personal hat. The Learning Assistant decided to use one type of social media for her personal hat and another type of social media for her professional hat. (However, she opted in the end to use the safest option of being at work with face to face conversations instead) - at this point with the Learning Assistant I showed her our 'Policy for Cybersafety and Cybercitizenship'. 

4. I used this experience as a problem I posed to our students. In this instance, I was able to be upfront and honest with the dilemmas had here with both the Learning Assistant and the Teacher. 

With the teaching points for our students, I made an emphasis about the following:

  • If you don't speak to them face to face and in the safety of school, why would you accept an invitation to know who they in an environment unfamiliar to you? This one pointed out relational trust and being safe in the environment you are in. 
  • Know who your audience is before accepting invitations * The point in this one is to know who you are talking with. You should know everything about these people. 
  • Don't feel obligated to anyone you have just met (RANDOMS) 
  • Be honest about who you are and let your parents know who you speak with

I teach students not to accept people who they would otherwise not speak to. In this case I was able to follow a code of behaviour our students are able to understand. Ethically, I can not allow our students to use social media because of the age variations for social media. I do however, believe there are times in a student's school life where it can be used but how do you overcome these ethical dilemmas? Our students are 13 and under. There are only a handful who would be eligible to have such accounts. 

Bennett, S. (2014). Minimum Age Requirements: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Secret. Retrieved from:

Mangere Central School's Cybersafety Agreement (2015) 

Mangere Central School's eLearning Procedures (2014)

Netsafe's Top Tips for Security on Facebook. Retrieved from:

Teacher Ethics Video (2014) Retrieved from

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