A Quick Word on Recording Teachers

If you record a teacher in their classroom without their knowledge, you are an asshole.

If you are a parent or a Principal relying upon such a recording to criticise a teacher, you are an asshole.

If you upload such a recording to social media, you are the worst kind of asshole.

If you are a public commentator or media company relying up such a recording for cheap laughs and/or cheap sanctimony, you are the worst kind of asshole and the worst kind of leech.

If you consume such media or social media and regard the teacher to be the fundamental problem, you have got things way, way wrong.

Short of a demonstrable crime, none of the above is countered by arguing, even correctly, how bad was the teacher’s conduct.

Are we clear?

56 Replies to “A Quick Word on Recording Teachers”

  1. In this age of zero privacy, every asshole thinks theyre a citizen reporter.
    (Opinion: Love him or hate him, Shane Warne would have been a captain of the mens Australian cricket team had his career been in the pre-mobile phone era).
    Marty I assume something has triggered this post but its not Vital that you confirm or deny.

  2. If you are a Principal relying on said footage I would hope you have not failed to follow your own school rules about authorized use of recording devices in the classroom…

    If anyone under the age of 18 is identifiable in any recordings, I would also hope you have signed permission from each and every parent.

    If not, I am not going to lie, I look forward to reading the court judgement against you. (Against the Principal, not the teacher).

      1. Any recording done in a private place, such as a school classroom, without the clear consent of every participant is wrong on so many levels (moral, ethical, legal) that the question of what is happening in said recording is (as Marty has said already) likely irrelevant.

        To share (or publish to social media) such a recording, if made illegally, should (I am no lawyer) be held to the same levels.

  3. I’ll beg to differ. What reason does a teacher have to expect privacy in their job? They are doing it in front of 20 or so people. Adding more wouldn’t create any privacy issues. As with police body cameras most teachers might actually benefit from having footage when complaints arise.

    Yes sharing footage of children without their consent is wrong but that is not what Marty and many others are concerned about. If that was the concern then there should be a lot more fuss about kids doing this on a regular basis outside a classroom context.

    Yes going straight to social media is not a nice way to handle a problem. But do you care so much when it happens to the police or anyone other that a teacher?

    Perhaps someone has a good reason to say class rooms should be a private place between a teacher and students but so far no one is presenting that. It’s just status quo bias.

    1. I have good reasons, but the reasons are so obvious I’m not going to argue it. Your point of view is absurd, and nasty.

    2. Maybe you could benefit from taking a look at the privacy act. While it may not address human decency, it does a good job in outlining the legal perspective.

      1. One would have thought considerations of human decency sufficed. But yes, in Australia at least, such recording is also prima facie illegal.

    3. Stan do you work? Lets come to your work place and film you and then review the film and take 10 seconds out of context, give it to your boss, post it on social media etc There should be a major crackdown on unconsented filming. People who do it should be heavily fined.

    4. There are schools in the UK where there are cameras (and microphones) recording constantly and (after a while, not live) anyone can view these lessons. Eddie Woo became famous for being a teacher that was recorded in the classroom.

      Except, in all of these cases, those being recorded GAVE CONSENT.

      If you are in a private space, be it a school, gym, private home, you have an implied right to privacy.

      Therefore, a teacher has every reason to expect privacy in their job because school grounds are PRIVATE spaces.

      Your turn, Stan.

  4. There’s enough pressure on teachers as it is, with all the idiotic overregulation, morons at VIT, low salaries etc. Who in the hell would be a teacher these days (Ps I am not a teacher).

    1. If it was a student who did the filming I’ll guess they used a phone. Why does that student have a phone? The DET has explicitly banned students having phones during school hours. Any school that is letting this happen is in breach of DET rules. If this is happening (and I have heard that it is) the principal should be put on due process.

      1. DET rules do not always apply in Independent or Catholic schools which, up to a point, are free to set their own rules about phones in classrooms.

        There are a lot of other devices that can be used to make recordings, too…

        If you are a student, parent, concerned friend and have an issue with a teacher in a school, there are several (legal) avenues you can pursue. Public humiliation just shows you either can’t be bothered doing the right thing or somehow think that the proper processes do not apply to you.

  5. Let us conduct a thought experiment. A student records his/her teacher in a classroom while the teacher explains a complex subject, then uploads this video on a social network and sends it to the school’s principal. The student does it all without notifying the teacher.

              1. Understood. Then I can proceed to the conclusion of my experiment. When a student records a video without the teacher’s consent of something the teacher doesn’t like, this student is an asshole. When a student records without consent something that works in favour of the teacher, that student isn’t an asshole.

                1. I don’t think the qualifier “asshole” is relevant here.

                  Marty expressed a (valid) opinion.

                  Experiments are really not of any use unless the conclusion is unexpected. Even then, not much is learned unless the experiment was correctly set up in the first place.

                  As Karl Popper reminds us, you can find confirmation of your theories anywhere, if you look hard enough. That is not “doing” science (in my opinion, but what would I know…)

                2. Hey Mike. I’m in the camp that would still be unhappy (the “is an asshole” group) if I was filmed without my knowledge while working.

                  But here’s more “thinking” that I hope shows why this particular tangent isn’t relevant to the original topic of the post.

                  If I talk shit behind someone’s back, I’m an asshole. If I sing their praises, who knows, but probably not an asshole. It isn’t really that deep for different actions to have different evaluations.

                  The action being discussed in this post is one particular thing. A kind of non-consensual filming of a teacher while teaching. This can be uploaded to social media, something that can have severe impact on that teacher.

                  In our current teaching environment, this is a very real concern. And it is definitely something that we should condemn.

                  OK now on the other hand, you want to bring up a different action, a somehow “possibly nice” action of filming a teaching, without consent, for the purpose of “niceness”. Ok, fine. This is a different thing, and not particularly relevant.

                  It would be like if suddenly teachers were being gifted bombs and you asked “but what about those gifts with chocolates and wine, huh?”

                  1. Glen, just before I write a comment, I will repeat I am against students even bringing smartphones to school. Now to answer your points.
                    If those gifts are exceeding the allowed value and the people who made those gifts are aware of the limitations, we might consider finding the right name for these people.
                    Now back to the case of smartphones, if there is a precise regulation against filming on the school premises without consent, the only thing changing is the number of arseholes. In one case, it might be the person who filmed and the principal; in another, it might also be the teacher.

            1. Not at all. If I am a teacher in a classroom and a student defies my right to privacy, they have done wrong.

              If the teacher did a good job, so be it. If it was the intention of the student to show the Principal that the teacher was doing a good job, again, there are ways to do this which do not involve non-consensual activity.

              I see no ethical conundrum.

              I’m not calling anyone a name, that is for others to judge. I am expressing my concern that anyone thinks consent does not apply to teachers.

        1. Thats not an experiment. Its a trap.
          There are different sorts of assholes. The student is a well-intentioned, or perhaps conscientious, asshole. But they are still an asshole. You do not film someone without their consent. Period.

          1. More to the point, it has zero to do with the type of filming that was being discussed, and that everybody understood to be the type of filming being discussed. The experiment proved nothing except that sophistry can be boring.

            1. No, Marty, the experiment has shown a thing or two you aren’t willing to admit. This is why I asked you if you see a moral problem in what you are saying.
              For instance:
              Who will decide what is favourable or not for a teacher?

              Disclaimer: I am 100% against students even taking their phones out of lockers or bags in school. Actually, as it is in the schools, my kids attend.

                1. I understand what you wanted to say, and I think I know why you said it the way you did. However, the question isn’t as straightforward as you posed it. One thing is for sure – students must not use their devices on the school premises.

                  1. My question is completely straight-forward. You wanted to ask an entirely different question, which muddied the discussion of my post. You’re allowed to do that, but I’m allowed to be annoyed.

                    1. I am afraid I might continue to annoy you from time to time. However, I insist it wasn’t a different question.

            1. “Let us conduct a thought experiment. A student records his/her teacher in a classroom while the teacher explains a complex subject, then uploads this video on a social network and sends it to the school’s principal. The student does it all without notifying the teacher.”

              The very clear conclusion is that the student is an asshole. A conscientious asshole or unwitting asshole perhaps. But still an asshole. As I have said three times now. You do not film anyone without their consent. Period.

  6. Someone above mentioned Eddie Woo. I’ll take that as a prompt to make this comment. This term I will be teaching my Year 9 students about trigonometry. When setting homework, I will occasionally ask my students to look at some of Eddie’s videos, and write a few notes on their reactions. Comments welcome.

      1. It’s an opportunity for students to see classes on trigonometry presented by Australia’s best known mathematics teacher in the comfort of their own homes. And as I have only two lessons/week for the term, this homework does not take away from the little time that we have together in class.

        1. Hi Terry – I think I met you while I was in the Health Dept, before I returned to teaching. I found this short video which I thought was particularly good and relevant for students: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U93RImC-by4 – Why video games are made of tiny triangles. At least I learned something from it.

          I agree with you. None of us really has much of an idea of how people learn (as Dylan Wiliam says) and trying little things at the margins may help and at the least make things more interesting for students and hopefully motivate them.

          1. Trying things that are selected with some thought and discretion is fine. Suggesting Eddie Woo is thoughtless autopilot.

    1. I mentioned Eddie Woo, but as an example of how to do things WITH CONSENT.

      What Terry is doing HAS EDDIE’S PERMISSION and is therefore not a moral, ethical or legal issue as far as I can see.

      Of course, people will have (and have shared on this blog) opinions on the quality of the content of said videos.

      Again, EDDIE HAS GIVEN CONSENT for this to happen.

      It feels like this discussion is getting a bit circular, so I’m going to alight while I have the chance.

      To all the teachers currently catching up with Term 2 tasks while preparing for a likely to be busier than ever Term 3… enjoy the “holidays”.

  7. Who is the arsehole here?
    “The controversy began when a student secretly recorded a discussion involving year eight pupils at Rye College in East Sussex. In the excerpt posted to TikTok, a pupil describes the idea of another pupil identifying as a cow or cat as “crazy” and extends her remarks to include biological sex and gender as binary.
    A teacher is heard telling the student that their views were “despicable”, threatening to report them to a senior colleague and saying: “If you don’t like it, you need to go to a different school.”


    1. Ignoring that, intentionally or unintentionally, you have asked a trick question, my answer is obvious. Not interested in this game.

      1. The game is simple, and the question isn’t tricky. It is very straightforward. You might find it tricky to answer, but the question is plain and simple. Anyway, I am trying to show that the situation isn’t black and white when it comes to arseholes in the classroom and/or school.

              1. Proving that I am wrong might take a tad more than just saying it. Also, it will require answering ‘tricky’ questions.

    2. “when a student secretly recorded a discussion involving year eight pupils at Rye College in East Sussex”
      Again – The student who recorded the discussion is the arsehole. What is so hard to understand, Doc?

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