Jump to content
CrazyBoards.org

Teacher Suspended for Candid Blog About Students


Guest Recluse

Recommended Posts

Guest Recluse

Disclaimer: I know that this is going to cause a lot of mixed reactions, and I'm the absolute last person to try and advocate peace, but please...don't let this thread become a giant shit-fest cat fight. It is totally possible to disagree with someone else without turning the thread into a G8 conference redux, complete with screaming, Molotov cocktails, and people bleeding from their faces. I'm just sayin'.

So an English teacher named Natalie Munroe, like many adults this day in age, has a blog, and like many adults, she vents about her job. Hardly abnormal, right? A lot of people here talk about their work while semi-anonymous, they vent and rage and huff and puff and it makes them feel better.

Sadly, Natalie is a virgin of the vitriolic tidal-wave that is the Internet Hate Machine, and she is likewise ignorant of the tendency of people online to totally forget that the screen name they are talking to is an actual person with an actual life. Not realizing the dangers of publication, either because she was foolish or just very naive, Natalie decided to share the blog with some of her friends and coworkers...and they told their friends...and they told their friends...and so on...and so on...until finally it ended up in the hands of her students.

...who were the subject of her venting.

Naturally, the children and parents were angry, who wouldn't be if they discovered that they were the subject of a teacher's angry venting, but there's a candid sort of truth to what she's writing...really there is. I grew up in a family of teachers...I married into teachers, and many of my friends (yes, I actually have some) have gone on to become educators of varying forms as well. Many of them are frustrated for the same reasons that Natalie was, and I've heard some of these complaints quite literally my entire life. She isn't the only one.

I know that parents and students will very likely be offended by what they read, and probably take it very fucking personally (please don't) but this is a real, authentic window into what it's like to be an educator in the United States. It's not easy. Even if you like kids, and most educators really do love kids, it's still frustrating to see the same things happening year after year. Who can blame her for being angry and tired of the bullshit?

Well...because of her foolishness in sharing the blog with people she knew, and not remaining anonymous, she was found out, the parents and students demanded a meat sacrifice, and the school district was forced to suspend her employment, despite the fact that this woman is just saying what the rest of the staff were thinking anyway. I don't blame them for suspending her, and yet at the same time, it's still a fucking shame.

Two entries stood out. The blog has since been deleted, however thanks to Google and a little research, we can still benefit from her perspective:

"If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say"

"Frustration Incorporation; Irritation Nation"

Don't be upset with her - she's not abnormal, she's not even in the wrong profession, she's just a teacher under stress from parents and students, from the school district, from standardized testing, from her job, in essence, and this was her unfortunate coping mechanism. It is not her job to coddle these students or their parents, it is not her job to babysit them or act as a zookeeper, it is her job to educate them, and it seems like for many teachers, the biggest stumbling block to good teaching is the drama they face from students and parents.

This is just my opinion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is why places like crazyboards, liverjournal, blogger, pretty much any blogging service, offer private / invite only blogs. I haven't read the links yet, but I'm already sure of my conclusion. Both sides are right, but she's at fault for not using an invite-only blogging service.

In the 90s ignorance might have been an excuse but I think think we're rapidly approaching the point where we can no longer say that.

My parents were teachers too. My dad was a university professor and my mom taught middle school. Mom quit because she decided she hated kids.

I haven't read what she said yet, but I can already say I'm not upset with her, but I can say that what happened as a result was her fault. She should have known better.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think she's abnormal, but I can't help thinking she's maybe in the wrong profession. Or at the wrong school, working with the wrong age group, or something. And I really can't help thinking that, if all of her students are continually doing so badly, she must be playing a role in that. I won't even speculate as to what that might be, but clearly the whole process has broken pretty far down in her classroom, and she has to have contributed to that.

I'm surprised to find I'm kind of on the fence about her having been suspended. Ordinarily, I think it's complete bullshit when someone's fired for something like a blog. But... In this instance, she doesn't seem to have made much effort at anonymity, if that's her picture. And i just feel like, if she's got that much hostility towards her students consistently, she needs a break, or something. Plus the fact that things apparently haven't been going so well in her classroom.

I'm curious to see what parents, and any members who are teachera, have to say.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OK, read the two linked entries. I can hang with the first one. It was even pretty funny. Hospital docs do that kind of shit all the time and have their own codes for patients they dislike.

I would have found the second one more sympathetic if she'd have shown a bit of humility and posed the question that maybe she as a teach could have done something better to teach the kids, even if she was likely right.

My 12 Grade AP English teacher had us read Beowulf in Middle English (parallel text).

I'm betting the issue here is the NCLB elementary school kids hitting high school.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think she's abnormal, but I can't help thinking she's maybe in the wrong profession. Or at the wrong school, working with the wrong age group, or something. And I really can't help thinking that, if all of her students are continually doing so badly, she must be playing a role in that. I won't even speculate as to what that might be, but clearly the whole process has broken pretty far down in her classroom, and she has to have contributed to that.

I'm curious to see what parents, and any members who are teachera, have to say.

She did imply that she'd done the lessons the same way in past years and students had done better.

I'd also like to see what the fallout was.

Show us the bitching and moaning Recluse!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Recluse

Show us the bitching and moaning Recluse!

Oh there's a lot of it. For a quick taste, check the comments at the bottom of the cached entry. Students and parents mostly.

There's a deluge of news stories, though Huffpo and a few others are more interesting than the usual AP wire regurgitation.

Mostly it's butthurt parents saying the expected things, and students puffing their chests and whining.

I'm betting the issue here is the NCLB elementary school kids hitting high school.

You hit the nail right on the head...and it's driving every teacher I know up the fucking wall.

...if all of her students are continually doing so badly, she must be playing a role in that.

It's tempting to say that, however the truth of the matter is that she can't tie them to a chair and put a gun in their face and make them learn the material. She's a teacher, not a master entertainer or a hypnotist. If they lack the self-discipline to learn, that's not her fault...they are forced to attend school, but they aren't forced to do anything more than that.

I know the easy response is to say, 'she's not cut out for teaching', but it isn't just Munroe that had this problem. Every teacher I know is saying the same things...it's not the teachers. I really believe that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I found her blog entries rather amusing, but I'm not surprised in the slightest that in this day and age she got suspended over them, especially the first one, as a matter of fact. that stuff, whilst amusing and true, cannot be linked to one in any way, or else.... we live in the PC age PARTICULARLY when it comes to students and kids, and well....

I'm not saying she should have gotten suspended necessarily, just that it does not surprise me that she was a sacrifical lamb.

good writer though, mayhap she has a second career for herself?

Anna

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a friend who is a college professor, and she said the latest crop of kids is the most unmotivated, ignorant bunch she has had in 35 years of teaching. They know nothing and they don't want to learn anything. And they don't understand why she won't give them an automatic "A".

That's not the teachers' fault from high school and grade school. That goes back to the parents in this country who don't value learning and allow their kids to fry their brains with TV, computer games and similar mindless pursuits. Sorry. Look at the parents who insist on excellence from their kids. In the 40s and 50s, it was the Jewish parents. Now it's the Asian parents. Their children are achievers.

VE, we also read Beowolf in High School. And Chaucer, and Shakespeare, and a lot of the authors that they teach in college English Lit classes now. Well, in the colleges where the students really want to learn something about literature.

LindaLee

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm... After reading the second piece, I think I would have failed her class, too. It appears to me that she structured each exercise so that the kids had no room at all for their own experimentation and originality. I would have been bored to tears with such an exercise. I might not have completed it at all, or I would have written something on another topic like the kid who wrote his on the duality of nature. Luckily I went to top schools and had brilliant teachers who gave their students challenging exercises and a lot of freedom to experiment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It looked to me (in the second piece) that she was trying to teach these kids how to write a structured paper. Creativity is all well and good, but if those students are going on to college, advanced degrees, and the business world, they need to be able to read the assigned work and do the exercise as laid out by the teacher. Find the dark and light, and show examples of each. Set out the goal or proposition of the paper in the first paragraph and then prove your point with quotes and examples.

They also need to learn to complete their work on time, use good grammar, spell the words correctly and make the paper the appropriate length. These are high school children: I learned to do all that stuff by the time I was in 8th grade. By senior year, we were expected to write a short (3-5 page) paper every week in English class, and at the end of the semester we wrote a term paper that had to be at least 20-25 pages long. That's not asking a lot, and I had to do that over and over again in college when I took history, sociology and other classes in the Humanities division.

Maybe that's why I had several successful careers in a couple of different fields. *shrug* These kids sound like they'll be flipping hamburgers, which, of course, is their choice. You can choose to work hard and try to succeed, or you can slack along and do the minimum you can get away with. It sounds to me like this teacher has a classroom full of kids doing the absolute minimum.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It looked to me (in the second piece) that she was trying to teach these kids how to write a structured paper. Creativity is all well and good, but if those students are going on to college, advanced degrees, and the business world, they need to be able to read the assigned work and do the exercise as laid out by the teacher.

I'm not talking about "creativity" as in creative writing or artwork; simply enough leeway in an assignment that a student can learn for him/herself. I don't think dumbed down, rote assignments are the best way to inspire students, and it certainly is possible to learn how to write a structured paper without making it a fill-in-the-blanks exercise. I would have detested and resisted the exercise that she describes in her blog post, yet I graduated summa cum laude from a top-5 school and did two graduate degrees at top-5 schools, and like you, had successful careers in different fields... before being crippled by MI, that is... I'm certainly not what I used to be after progression of illness making mush of my brain, and Lamictal adding the final touch of stupidity!

In your case, since your education worked so well for you, I'm guessing that you probably had inspiring and talented teachers who made the exercises interesting and challenging. Teacher skill and talent is the bottom line in any type of education. It's difficult to tell without seeing her in action whether this particular teacher is a good one, but she's certainly made errors in judgment here, and I'm not impressed by the content of her posts either. These kids may very well end up flipping burgers, but it doesn't seem to me that this teacher is doing a lot to remedy the situation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i feel bad for the teacher, because i feel bad for ANY high school teacher today. i think they should get medals just for showing up sometimes... just because i cannot imagine summoning the will to face a wall of apathetic teens day in and day out.

but i think if i read more humility or something from this teacher (which probably was more evident in other entries), i'd feel a little less critical of the second entry though. it kinda read like "this was the best way to do it and all the students didn't do it right because they just plain suck". doesn't mean that was really the case, or really how she felt after reflecting on it, either. we all write stuff in our blogs that later make us rethink some of our assumptions. but if that was really what she thinks, meh. i'm not so impressed with her style.

regrettably it was bad judgment to do this in a way that could be personally traced.

i went to school way back when too, in the days where we learned far more than the examples given in that blog at a much younger age. expectations were MUCH higher then. i can't imagine that children have changed so much as to make it impossible for them to learn what we learned.

i can imagine it might have to be done differently, however. i was overachieving at school (at every level, even post-secondary) and always did good work on time exactly as asked - but the things i remember even today (after age, meds, and MI) were taught by especially talented and creative teachers. i remember that those teachers were NOT known for being "easy" - but students liked them because the teachers "forced" the necessary work out of everyone in a way that was actually engaging somehow.

it's always the silliest things, really. once it was learning every preposition by making the class sing them to the tune of "row your boat" every morning for eight months (this was 7th grade). but it took a teacher who was willing to make us jaded little teenaged know-it-alls be "silly" for a minute to get it through. i still keep in touch, and some of those kids still never made it past ninth grade, but they STILL remember the preposition song and smile about it... and these are some rough boys with rough lives. :)

so yeah. i don't think it's too much to ask for kids to have to work hard at learning sometimes. but life is different now, and the ways teachers are able to engage kids long enough to do the work has to be different now too. these kids probably wouldn't do "row your boat" but they might do whatever rap version works heh. or something. i certainly don't have the answers, but i do think anyone who can do this deserves to be paid like mad.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Recluse

Heads up to those of you blaming the teacher for pushing the standard paper-writing method:

She didn't come up with it herself, she's required to teach it.

Sorry, wasn't sure if people realized she, like all other public school teachers, follows a dictated lesson plan.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Teachers at my son's public school have flexibility in designing their own lesson plans. Each classroom is quite different in how they teach the material. Of course they all do have to get the kids prepared for the same evaluations and tests, and fulfill a lot of other annoying requirements in the classroom. I don't envy public school teachers at all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I taught for several years. I am sorry, this is just unprofessional, and a breach of the teacher/student relationship. If you know about teachers, you also know they exchange a lot of information, positive and negative, about students in meetings and casual encounters. When I was involved in those conversations, I always operated under the assumption of the confidentiality of information divulged about both the students and teachers. That is also how the other teachers at the schools at which I taught operated. We would never have revealed information about students to anyone other than the faculty or a the parent of a specific kid.

Maybe if she had made it invite only; but I still would only expect her to let other faculty, and perhaps her spouse, see it, and think it inappropriate to spread the info further.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Heads up to those of you blaming the teacher for pushing the standard paper-writing method:

She didn't come up with it herself, she's required to teach it.

Sorry, wasn't sure if people realized she, like all other public school teachers, follows a dictated lesson plan.

Fair enough. But, she does seem to have had some leeway as to how she went about teaching it. For instance, she was able to change the assigned text, and some aspects of the assignment. Personally, the incredibly structured way she went about teaching it would have removed any interest I had in doing the assignment at all, let alone doing it well. When you're so thoroughly instructed as to how to do something, there's just nowhere left for you to engage with the material or assignment yourself. I'm not saying that's the problem with these kids, but it would have been for me.

As far as the bad influence of NCLB, I don't doubt it for a minute. But, at the same time, it's not these kids' fault, that they were the victims of a crappy federal policy. I don't doubt that pedagogical approaches that worked in the past, may not be working as well with them. But at some point, that means it's the teacher's job to come up with different approaches to the material.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I do think I'd find the second assignment as boring as hell, but I already know how to write. For teaching a writing assignment, I don't think it was terrible.

I don't think that a general blog about students without names is a horrific breach of professional ethics, either. I mean, if she was naming kids by name. The fact that it links back to her personally is more of a break, perhaps, as it tells people which school, and in a sense, which kids.

I'm all for anonymyty and my invite only blog! Definitely a plus there. I think a lot of people blogging get cuaght up in the "oh what I'm writing is so brilliant/funny" (which it may in fact be) that they overdo it, and get themselves in hot water. Yeah. You gotta be Really Careful.

I blog about clients sometimes and even changing details and identifying information, I squick about it sometimes.... it's a hard balance to walk.

Anna

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought the first one was sorta funny. I don't know how much things have changed over time. I wasn't very good at writing and I had problems with that in college. My daughter is in elementary school and she does very well on writing assignments. They teach them to write in several different styles that are going to be covered in a standardized test.

The teacher should have known better than to have made it an open blog and shared it, though. I'm pretty mellow about a lot of things, but I know many parents/students would be outraged if she wrote about their class.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...