Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Teacher Blogs: Oversharing and the Internet

Several bloggies I follow participate in Joyce's Wednesday Hodgepodge.  This isn't something I have done in the past, but there was a question on today's hodgepodge that garnered quite a bit of attention from me today:

7. Did you hear about the high school English teacher recently suspended for some things she wrote on her personal blog? You can read the story here but in a nutshell she vented a lot of frustration onto her blog. She didn't mention individual students by name but she did make some harsh comments about kids in general and their parents.

What are your thoughts-if you're a parent is your child's teacher online and are you a 'friend' or 'follower' there? If you're a teacher are you on facebook and do you accept or friend students there? How about their parents? If you're a student are you friends with your current or former teachers online? Do any of them have blogs you read? If you're a teacher or a parent do you ever use your blog as a place to vent your frustrations with our educational system? So much to discuss....

First of all, allow me to say that I think it's easy for so many of us to take the moral high ground after an event like this has taken place.  While many of us (I'm a high school teacher) may not have taken our comments to the extent Natalie Munroe did, few of us can wave the non-guilty flag when it comes to venting in any sort of venue--public or non-public.

Personally, I'm not sure what's so over the top about getting frustrated with students because they are, in her personal belief, "rude, disengaged, lazy whiners."  Would I have chosen those words?  Not today.  But there are days when they would seem to be the most fitting.  Many of my students are lazy.  This isn't something I've never said to them, but it must be a taboo word.  Fact is many of us in the educational sphere are struggling with students who carry around a sense of entitlement so large they can barely get through the door.  And it's difficult to make demands when the parents of these children are dogging their every footstep and demanding teachers let up and relax.  And sometimes it's hard to change things in your classroom because a child has very little expectation at home.

But parents?  That's a whole 'nother issue.

Please understand that I am not defending her word choice.  I am defending her right to a personal opinion and the feeling in general.  I've been there.  And also note that I think her random comments for student reviews are a little on the harsh side.  Granted, I haven't lived her week and am unsure as to what she had to endure before those statements were made.  I've had students who definitely made my classroom life miserable and their absences changed the entire tenor of conversation.  On the days they were present, it was probably good that I had a 15 minute drive home.

But sometimes I do wonder if my frustration with NCLB, my aggravation with enabling parents, my suggestions to preservice teachers,  my inbred need to defend myself or my random rant to rude teenagers will outweigh my love for my job and my desire to do it well (too many posts to connect to two small statements).  I do try to use discretion when I write about my job, because I do believe in privacy; however, apparently (or at least that was my impression of this article) anonymity is no longer good enough.  Although I wonder:  if general statements are found distasteful, does that automatically mean the statement-maker should lose his/her job?  Like the article stated, it's murky water.  Plus, it has implications that go way beyond the educational world.

As I was mulling over this topic, I noticed that a few people commented that issues like this are the very reason they homeschool their children.  I've heard it before.  I've even heard people go as far as to say that they homeschool simply because of the problems in the educational system.

Pardon the frankness of my opinion, but I think that's asinine.  Educational institutions may be peppered with their fair share of issues (as is evidenced by this issue in general), but I wonder how that's different from so many other fields and institutions that also have problems.  I've never heard of a United States citizen changing his/her citizenship because our country has problems.  Most people find a way to stick it out in the workplace despite the issues that exist and every church I've ever known of has been riddled with its own set of difficulties.

The difference?  I've never heard of someone "home-churching" their children because the church has problems.

Before you start commenting and complaining that I'm anti-homeschool, keep reading.  I'm not against you homeschooling your children.  I've known families who did it because it was a better fit for the family or the child.  I've known people who homeschooled because they wanted to have more curriculum options or more control over the types of things their children were learning.  I've even heard of parents homeschooling because the school district in which they lived was not up to par and they could do a better job.  If someone believes in any of these reasons, go for it.  But don't use a catch-all to support your homeschooling reasons--particularly if that catch-all applies to a hundred other institutions and establishments.

And please, dear heavens, don't use one teacher as an example for the rest of us.  Frustrated or not, so many of us are still trying to make a difference.  Hopefully, our blogs/facebook pages reflect those feelings as well as the frustrated ones. 

But sometimes I think the positive statements don't have quite the same impact.


ktjane said...

Entitlement! The word alone sets me off, because I get exactly what you are saying. I also feel for this woman who has no doubt dealt with it.

But, more than anything, I agree with what you said at the end. People hear or read what they want to, and it seems that positive comments just don't make the same kind of mark. Which is a real shame.

Joyce said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this topic. I don't think she should have been suspended but I do think these are murky waters and perhaps a private blog would have been better. There have been some follow up articles to the one I linked and if nothing else she has generated discussion about real problems in the classroom.

CaseyRhea said...

This is triple sweet- I give it a quadruple like!

Brooke said...

I just want to say this: I reaaally like your new blog design, layout, what-have-you. It's so cute. I wish I could have gotten to know you during high school! :] you have such good style. (of writing, blog-layouting, and probably fashion too. haha.) <3