Friday, June 29, 2012

If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, Keep It to Yourself

From the Philadelphia Inquirer: "Bucks County Teacher Whose Blog Made Headlines is Fired"

Last year, Natalie Munroe, a teacher in Pa., came under scrutiny when a blog of hers was brought to the attention of the school officials where she works. That's not all...a particular blog post of hers was under question. She wrote a lot of not nice things about her students and school. In her interview last year with Robin Roberts on "Good Morning America", she basically said that her comments were not aimed at specific students, rather they were aimed at caricatures of students. I kinda understand that. Maybe it wasn't aimed at a specific student or two, but I think her comments were definitely about groups of students she has come across before. 

With that said, this post is NOT meant to admonish her or judge her. Mrs. Munroe is entitled to her opinions as much as the next  person and is just as entitled to share them. However, there are consequences to sharing your opinions. Sometimes, they are minimal and in some cases, they are quite expansive, like in Mrs. Munroe's case. Also, the consequences for sharing your opinions can be positive, negative, or absolutely nil. I also don't think that it is wrong for teachers to blog. Duh. "Teaching is Insanity", anyone? However, one thing you will never see on my blog (which consist of my opinions) is an obliteration of any of my students, my school, the community in which I work, the parents of my kids, my co-workers, my administration, or even caricatures based on any of these groups. Criticism? Fair game. Mean-spirited discussion? Never. 

First, it is in my nature to keep discourse as polite and kind as possible, because I have neither the time nor the patience to put up with anything less. People that know me well know that when conversations get nasty, I walk out or hang up until things get back on a human level. I don't accept nastiness from anyone, so I don't spew it. Second, I recognize that behind every policy and action is an actual human being. Now, the amount of humanity actually possessed is questionable, but I assume that a good amount is there until otherwise proven wrong. If I don't like something, I usually will say so, along with a suggestion or two on how to improve it. If it doesn't get change, I'll do my own thing. Third, meanness doesn't really fix anything, so why bother with it? How is stating "I hear the trash company is hiring" adding to the discussion about why some students are so unmotivated? Is this meant to motivate them, perhaps? (That's a real question.) I know that if it were aimed at me or my class, it would piss me off and motivate me to raise hell. (High school Ms. Insane was nowhere near as mellow as the current iteration.)

I know how hard it is to keep discussion as polite as possible. There are some days, I come home and want to unload a whole lot of nasty, because my day was nasty. I get the frustration of teaching today. We are asked to do some much more with some much less, including in some case, base-level respect. Some kids seem to come to school only to tap dance on that one nerve you have left. 

Imagine Savion Glover tapping on one of your nerves.
Still, and especially if you are going to express yourself online in ANY form, it is important to keep discourse polite. Even it is not for the same reasons I do, keep it polite. As the old saying goes, "If you don't have anything nice to say, keep it to yourself". Or at least off the internet.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Let's Try This Again

I'm baaaccckkk!

After the long sabbatical from blogging, I'm happy to be back at it! I'll keep the update brief and confine it to a paragraph...

December was my teaching nadir. (Every morning began with me through my alarm.) January was the beginning of the precipitous downhill slide to the CRCT in April, so I had no time to wallow in my funk. In other words, it was do-or-die time. Obviously, I'm writing, so I didn't die. I "do"ed.  Better yet, my kids "do"ed quite well on the CRCT. Also, they launched pretty awesome egg-protection devices from the third floor. 

My room smelled like a giant fart for days.
I survived through the school year and have decided to continue to teach, which is the real victory! In all seriousness, I don't wish the fatigue and the cripplingly amount of self-doubt and criticism on anyone. I do wish that everyone could see my kids and the pride in themselves when their eggs lived after their drop. That was awesome finish to the year and awesome reminder that the real purpose of teaching is not the CRCT (though, seriously, my kids' scores kicked butt).

I'm back to blogging now, because I'm desperately avoiding grad school work. Thankfully, the time-suck that is grad school ends at the end of the summer. Before the summer is out, I will fully unload my frustration with grad school. Through my procrastination efforts, I've found several teaching-related blogs, though for my TFA-wary friends, note some of them are written by TFA folks. Though, FYI, I feel myself going in that direction... (I owe another blog post on that as well). 

Accidentally tripping upon my own blog is what really got me back to blogging. Reading through my own post was fascinating. I found myself laughing, cringing, reminiscing, and vowing to never again to do or say certain things. Teaching is such a fun and rewarding trip that I rather like documenting, reviewing, and discussing the journey! Even during the summertime when I'm not being paid to think about my classroom, I already have a few organizational and instructional ideas that I'm forming and modifying now based on stuff I've been reading. You could either classify this as sad or super-dedicated. (Let's go with door #2, please.)

Long story...well, not made short, because this post is NOT short. Brevity is not my strong suit...

I'm back and better than last year, but only because I have a year under my belt now. If not, I would still suck. 

As a closing, I will leave you with something someone should have sat me down in front of last year at this point in time

The Myth of the Super Teacher from EdWriters on Vimeo.