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Keeping Safe, staying safe and being safe in the digital environment

Maintaining professional standards in the online environment When

One of a series of guides on hybrid learning


Maintaining professional standards in the online environment

When working in an online environment as teachers, we need to maintain the same standards that we would in the classroom environment. When we are teaching from home, this can be something we easily forget. Our mind tricks us into thinking we are in our own house and haven’t flicked that internal switch 
that says we are now at work, in perhaps the same way it does when we walk out of the door in the morning.

We need to be mindful while operating from home that we are working in our professional capacity. Some practical ways of doing this include the following:

  • Dress in a way you would as if you were teaching face-to-face in the classroom.
  • Consider the whole shot the students will see on the camera. Take time to ‘dress’ the background. All these will signal the students online that this is ‘normal’; we are now at school.
    • Could it look like a classroom?
    • Can you change the background to be a photo of your school orclassroom?
    • Place the school logo or values poster in the shot (digitally or physically).
      • Guidelines for creating a customised background should work in most video meeting software. The image should be a JPG, JPEG or PNG file, landscape orientation, and ideally be sized to 1920 by 1090 pixels, the classic 16:9 ratio. The file size should not exceed 16MB.

Values-based approach to student behaviour online

Schools have an agreed set of values that are evident in onsite learning. Teachers should reference these values when raising and addressing behavioural concerns in this remote learning environment. These are often referenced when working with children and are also explicitly taught to children. Leaning on these values in the digital environment is a practical and relatively simple way of transferring face-to-face expectations to the online environment.

When children are the focus of unwanted behaviour online, there are some straightforward steps they can be taught to remain safe and retain their power in those circumstances.

  1. Don’t respond.
  2. Screenshot the evidence (what they were sent).
  3. Show it to an adult they trust.

Supporting parents to keep their kids safe 

This is often a tricky area for parents; they know this online environment is compelling and valuable for their kids, and they also know it can be a place that is not safe for their children.

It is essential to support parents in practical ways to keep their children safe online. One school has facilitated face-to-face workshops for parents by parents. The principal reported excellent levels of engagement in having parents running these sessions. Top tips for parents from the parent educators:

1. Devices are used in family areas.
2. If it is too good to be true, it is actually too good to be true (avoid scams).
3. Monitor the child; take an active interest in what they are doing online.

Using outside expertise

Teaching in the online environment is a complicated undertaking. Not all practices that we use face-to-face can be transferred, and we need to generate some new techniques or protocols. It is advisable to seek the advice and guidance of an outside expert in this area. 

Once you have designed your approach, use the expert as a reference point to check that you’ve developed a strategy that will maintain high levels of safety. Equally, you can engage the expert in the design phase, which is helpful as they will suggest things to consider that may not have been on your radar.

Where might you start? 

  • Maintaining professional standards in the online environment by
    • dressing as you would if teaching face to face.
    • ensuring your background sends the message ‘this is school’
  • Supporting parents to keep their kids safe.
    • Encourage the use of devices in family areas.
    • If it is too good to be true, it actually is.
    • Monitor the child.
  • Access outside expertise.

Further Information

Windley School

Windley School Kawa of Care 2020

The Kawa of care is an agreement between students, parents and schools to ensure the best care and responsibility of the Chromebook is maintained at all times. 

  1. Caring for my Chromebook student agreement:
    1. I will respect the Chromebook, charger and bag by making sure that I:
      • Always carry the Chromebook in a bag when walking around 
      • Carry the Chromebook with both hands
      • Keep my Chromebook charged
      • Keep my Chromebook charger in a safe place 
      • Never leave my Chromebook on the floor.
      • Keep my Chromebook in its bag in a safe place when not using it.
      • Never eat or drink over my Chromebook.
      • Make sure my Chromebook does not get wet in the rain.
      • Be gentle with the keyboard buttons.
  2. Cyber Safety student agreement:
    • I will only use my Chromebook in a kind, positive and helpful way, respecting others, especially when on social media sites.
    • I will only use my Chromebook in a kind, positive and helpful way, respecting others, especially when on social media sites.
    • I will keep my password to myself and not share it with anyone.
    • I will always use my Chromebook for learning when I am at school.
    • I will make sure my parents know what I am doing and what sites I am on when | am at home.
    • I will be the only person to use my Chromebook.
    • I will log out of my gmail account when I am not using it I will never use anyone else's gmail account.
    • I will only use my Chromebook where my caregivers can see me
  3. Parent/Caregiver agreement:
    • I will ensure that my child follows the Kawa of care at home.
    • I will interact with my child's learning in a kind, positive and helpful way.
    • I understand the legal age to open a Facebook account is 13 years old. I will oversee my child's facebook account. Any issues that may arise with my child, I will be responsible for.
    • I will respect the terms of the Credit sale.
    • Ensure the lease payments are made.

    • I will pay the outstanding amount in full if I leave the school.

    • Or I will return the Chromebook to the school to be sold on (The Chromebook must be in good working order, including bag and charger).

    • I understand I will not be reimbursed for the payments I have made.

  4. ​​​​​​Teacher agreement:
    • Students learning tasks are appropriate for their needs and interests and extends their thinking.
    • Classroom environment follows the Kawa of care.
    • Cybersmart values and behaviours will be taught and displayed on classroom walls.
    • Teachers will give students the affirming and guided feedback online to support next steps in learning.
    • Teachers will provide support and training for students, families and other teachers.
    • Teachers' comments will be evident on the student's learning intentions on the Chromebook.
    • Teachers will ensure that Chromebooks are kept safe in class.
    • Planning for learning reflects the values, principles and learning objectives from the NZ curriculum, developed by the school to embrace their Charter and Strategic goals

Signed by: Student, Parents/Caregivers, Teacher/ Principal