The Perils of Teacher Blogging

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A few people in my life have sent me links similar to this one over the past few days, wanting to know what I thought of it. Should she be applauded for sharing her working conditions with a larger audience? Did she go too far, or was she too candid? Is this a free speech issue? Is it ever okay for a teacher to publicly say “I hate your kid” (warning: video)?

As much as Natalie Munroe wants to believe that her words were only “for her friends and family,” once she put them on public blog posts that weren’t password-protected, they became available for mass consumption. Was that a mistake? I believe so, absolutely. Even before I gained full-time employment in teaching, even before I started blogging under my own name, I would never have written down the words she did, much less have posted them publicly (not that I have had her experiences, or her thoughts). As a woman with two children, like Ms. Munroe, I find it incredibly reckless to endanger her employment this way.

Also, I believe she fell into the common trap of writing on the Internet: it’s so easy to believe that your words are just winging out there, instantly lost in the incredible stream of words that are produced every minute on websites in dozens of languages. It’s easy to imagine that no one you know will ever read it, that you can be anonymous and safely shielded, that your words will never be read by anyone you don’t want to read them, much less the target of the words. Even though it’s been years now that people have lost their jobs due to blogging, everyone wants to think it won’t happen to them.

Do I think she should lose her job? I think it will be impossible for her to successfully teach in her current school district, where surely every student and parent will know who she is. But more importantly, I think she owes it to herself and her students to think clearly and carefully about whether she wants to continue teaching. I have always believed that teaching is a vocation, and should not be undertaken lightly, and that miserable teachers are no help to anyone, including themselves.

Are teachers human, with all the foibles and impaired judgment that sometimes entails? Of course.  But we hold a great responsibility to our students and our communities, and that, we should not forget.

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5 thoughts on “The Perils of Teacher Blogging

    • I know, I wish she would admit in any of her public interviews that was unhappy in her job– it would make her more sympathetic and maybe shift the conversation in the direction she is hoping to see it go.

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  1. Jackie,

    Ready for a new and wildly unique teacher’s classroom journal? One that’s deeply thoughtful, literate, and downright funny? Then enjoy A Dixie Diary, at http://www.adixiediary.com. The response from readers all over America has been astonishing.

    Actually published during the midst of the Natalie Munroe business, this unique teacher’s diary shows a different look at what happens in the schoolhouse by a rookie special education teacher who loves his work and his students, but he expresses his thoughts and observations in a hugely different way than Mrs. Munroe. Sure, there are some intense student-teacher moments, even some choice words, too, but mostly it’s world-class hilarious, heartwarming … like reading a good book.

    It’s the madcap teacher’s journal we’ve been waiting for. It’s simply mesmerizing.

    Like

  2. Pingback: 2011: Year In Review « A Patchwork Life

  3. Pingback: Blogging Incognito | A Patchwork Life

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