domingo, maio 27, 2007

Teachers in high-tech text traps

PlanetaCelular tecnologia e mobilidade

Teachers in high-tech text traps

New complaints against teachers investigated by the Teachers Council show that technology is getting educators into trouble - with three of the five cases being triggered by inappropriate text messages and emails between teachers and students.

One teacher was struck off, and two were censured for serious misconduct but were allowed to keep their registration with no conditions imposed, following email or text contact with students.

In previous years, such cases were rare, but experts said the increased use of technology at schools made it easier for relationships to cross the line.

Most schools frowned upon teachers text-messaging students, but it was common for students to email assignments in or to ask questions of teachers online.

One solution - deemed "very sensible" by the teachers' watchdog body, the Disciplinary Tribunal - was that schools introduced open email systems, where no teacher could receive or send private messages.

That idea was pitched by a teacher who now has to work under strict conditions after the tribunal found he had sent inappropriate emails to a 17-year-old student who had a crush on him. Another teacher censured by the tribunal had text-messaged girls as young as 11, and he showed a 12-year-old girl a sexually explicit email between his wife and another man. One intermediate school teacher, understood to be from Marlborough, was struck off for sending a "barrage" of text messages to two girls aged about 12.


AdvertisementPolice produced 40 pages of Telecom records that showed the teacher had sent texts late at night and early in the morning. Some were affectionate; in others, he swore or talked about his problems: "O shit. Tht sucks. So i wnt c u 2mro on the day i most nd u. bt u my friend so it no bigi. I bn waitin al day 2talk 2u. U kno 2day i told u i luh, i mean it."

The tribunal said in that decision that it wanted to be "absolutely clear that relationships of this sort - based on any form of communication, including texting - are unacceptable".

Five of the 21 decisions made by the tribunal since it was established in 2005 had involved inappropriate texts or emails. Another five involved teachers using school computers to access pornography.

But Teachers Council chairwoman Kathy Smith said that whether ethics were breached via text, email or in person was not really the issue - the council expected high standards of all teachers. "It's the things that they should be thinking about before they use the medium... You should have those imbued in you, no matter what medium you're using to connect with your students.

"I think the question always has to be about what's appropriate behaviour, really, what's the appropriate values... They have a role in promoting the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of learners, so they



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