16 February 2011

A blog about a teacher who blogs.

Editor's note:
Today's blog may contain some language which is best characterized as vile. The words aren't mine, but they were written by students towards a teacher / former teacher. I think that it is important to understand what these students said, so I've left them mostly in there.

Recently, a teacher in Bucks County, Pennsylvania named Natalie Munroe has made all kinds of news for writing a blog.

Here're the details

So, she was blogging on all kinds of subjects, but sometimes she talked about work. Since her work was teaching, when she talked about work, she was doing the same basic thing I do. She was talking about students in a totally anonymous way.

Now, she was angry (being a high school teacher, I can sympathize), and 8 months pregnant (which I cannot sympathize with, but I'm guessing might make you grumpy and emotionally unstable). She said some mean things about students in general. She also said some very funny things, I think.

You know what; I don't know why I'm trying to explain what she said, since the Internet keeps EVERYTHING you ever put out there. That's why you shouldn't text pictures of your naughty bits, kids.

Instead, I'll let her work speak for itself.

Here's what she actually said

If you didn't read that cached version of her blog, please go back and do so, because this my post won't make much sense if you haven't read her blog. Or, you could stop reading this blog entirely and go play FarmVille.

Is the design the same as the BlazeBlog? Yes. Is she mean? Not to any one student. Is she funny? Kind of. Is she profane? A little.

More importantly, did she do anything worthy of being fired? No.

Well not for what she wrote. Maybe for how she wrote it.

You see, my complaint isn't about what she said, but that she said them poorly. She misspelled belligerent. She has a list of funny comments, but doesn't put them in a particular order, so the comedy value isn't what it should be. For example, I would have divided the list in two principle ways: academic knuckleheads and social knuckleheads. Then, I would have used the ones that are opposite of each other (about siblings) next to each other. This is basic composition. Admittedly, she has a 3 year old at home, but if that's hurting her composition skills, perhaps she should use a technique I'm sure she asks kids to use: draft, revise, publish. Just because you can post right away doesn't mean you should. 

So, to recap: she shouldn't be fired, not for what she said; but as an English teacher, perhaps, because she's not very good at writing (or at least at revising). Tangentially, I also didn't like her comment about the bell meaning the "end of class, so leave", because I think that you should talk to kids when they need to talk. That being said, as soon as I read it, I immediately thought of one kid who it would apply to in my Civics class, so I get where she's coming from.

Following her suspension, she tried to disappear the offending posts, but did post about the situation. She defends herself as an educator, points out the rush to disseminate only the negative she said, and points out that either parents or students went digging for the blog so they could use it to attack her. Even in this blog, she substitutes a 0 for an O at one point. Since I blog on blogger, I'll point out that there is a spell-checker, and that it's very good. Also, blogger has a button that allows you to preview your blog, as it will appear online. Again; draft, revise, publish.

In an interview with the Bucks County Courier Times she notes that it seems that there is "less accountability on students while (teachers) are forced to explain everything they do". I think she's right, and I applaud her for being a truth-teller. I think she's saying things that almost all educators, especially in middle and high schools, would support (even if they don't like the original things she said).

Anyway, lets get back to this blog of hers, shall we? I think the students who are out to get her (and who are dumb enough to comment on the blog), actually prove her point about entitlement (and poor grammar).

Some of my favorites with commentary:

Jokes on you because this link is being cycled throughout the students of CB East via facebook. Have fun applying for unemployment. Sincerely, "cooperative in class."
Um, wrong "Jokes" big guy. I think you meant "Joke's", as in "Joke is". Well played, genius, well played.

Then this piece of scat. I've edited the nastier bits of misdirected anger:

ConcernedStudent said... Why would you waste your time blogging about how we are belligerent f*cks (you spelled belligerent wrong dumb*ss)? You should be spending your time helping out students instead of insulting them on here. You have cheated, screwed, and under-cut every single one of your students this year. And i speak for everyone when i say you were a douche to all of your students in class and made no effort to help any of us achieve our academic goals. Maybe you should learn to teach and be compassionate with your students. Respect goes a long way, and the only way people will respect you is if you respect them (too late). Have a nice life. Good luck with the inner-city sh*thole they call a school in philly.
Where can I begin? So many things to comment on. You know what this calls for? A numbered list of criticisms!

1. The parenthetical thought is awkward because it is a statement, but it follows a question.
2. You know that "I" is a capital letter when it stands alone, right?
3. The assumption that she will be fired.
4. More capitalization problems; "philly" also needs a capital letter.

I've saved the "best" for last. Sorry about the length, but I think Mr. Shoolbraid's thoughts are just too good to avoid. Actually, you know what, I think I'll break his thoughts up, so we can really pick apart his thinking.
Dear... you, Hey, I remember you. This is Jeff Shoolbraid talking, just so you know I'm not hiding behind a computer screen and just randomly bashing you.
Good start, glad that you're not randomly bashing. Bashing is better when it's not random. I would take issue with your assertion that you're not hiding behind a computer screen, since that is just very nearly the only place from which you can comment on a blog.
I'm not sure if you remember me, but you were by far the worst teacher I've ever had because you were simply a c*nt.
You're a bad teacher not for any given reason,but because of what you are. Classy, and well reasoned.
Turns out my assumption was correct.
What assumption?
Though, if I just sit here and call you names and such it really doesn't prove any points and makes me essentially as unintelligent as you.
And you have proven your own point.
It also doesn't really solve too much, but now that it's out of the way, here are my just as pointless two cents: Students can be a pain, but it's your job to deal with them. So this means it's your job to deal with the assholes, weird kids, drama queens, quiet kids, and so on.
I actually agree with Mr. Shoolbraid for this part.
The students, on the other hand, don't really owe you anything. You see, as a teacher, the world should not revolve around you. You should revolve around the students' lives. Sure, maybe kids treat you like shit, or don't give a shit in general as far as the class goes, but you have to remember the demographic here.
Um, you know how you're on a blog, complaining that this adult is complaining about you? You've kind of just proven her point.
You're teaching high school kids. These are the rebellious/self involved/self discovering times in there lives. They are transitioning from being kids to adults. So sorry if they don't exactly know how to go about being interested in a high school English class. You need to give them a reason to give a f*ck, and this starts with showing respect to them, which involves a little bit of extra work on your part.
Um, yes, respect is important. You need to respect her, and then she should repay that in kind. However, I would put forth the idea that Ms. Munroe did show respect in that she didn't aim her anger at any one student. Unlike you. Also, transitioning to adulthood is not an excuse for not using the right "there/their".
Though, if you're not willing to do that, I don't blame you. I for one don't know what it's like from a teacher's prospective like yours, and I'd believe you if you said it was tough. Maybe teaching isn't cut out for you though. It doesn't give you the right to virtually abuse your class via an internet blog, which is just tacky by the way. It also doesn't give you the right to rob you students of a solid high school education.
What doesn't give you a right to "virtually abuse students"? Is it that teaching is cut out for her? You know what, that doesn't make sense. Also, is there a blog that's not on the internet? You could also use a comma before "by the way". I'm just sayin'.
It's not a students' job to please you, it's your job to get a student an A to the best of your ability in a reasonable fashion. So sure, some students may still not give a shit. If so, give them an F.
Wrong you are. My job has nothing to do with getting students As. It has to do with teaching, and grades have very little to do with learning, except as a motivational tool.
Some students might still be assholes, but I had a pretty good relationship with Silverfox and all the principles at the school (not in a bad way) and I know they're all more than capable with dealing with those kids. And sure, some kids still might be drama queens (and kings, lets keep it pc) but hell, that's life. I also heard that this little stunt is getting your fired, and to all the students and parents that you've pissed off over the years, I'm going to take this opportunity to say good riddance! Sincerely, Jeff Shoolbraid PS. Presidents have something to do with politics, I hope you've learned this by now.
This is mostly inside baseball and drivel. However, I've bolded the bit that I think is the most interesting. You see, Mrs. Munroe had a problem with students and their sense of entitlement. She even took a shot at kids with too big an opinion of their own intelligence (like Mr. Shoolbraid). What did you do in reply? You proved her point.

I hope she taught these geniuses who commented on her blog irony.... But she might be a good teacher, read this comment. She's clearly taught this commenter something, even if they do play fast and loose with the rules of capitalization.

Real Classy Ms. Munroe. I just have to say that I am very disappointed by this. I originally didn't completely loath you like the rest of the junior class, but my feelings have now changed. I don't appreciate how in a previous post you stated that describing teachers and administrators with four letter words was inappropriate, is describing your own students with these same words acceptable? How's that for a rhetorical question? Also, how could you not have even thought to delete this? The worst of the posts are from a year ago, why didn't you delete them? It's understandable to want to talk about your day at work, but the internet, seriously? By the way, what is my "cooperative in class" comment mean? "A complete and utter jerk in all ways. Although academically ok, your child has no other redeeming qualities." well I don't believe an hour and a half a day for half a year can really lead you to a point where you can see a person's full character, you can't make those types of assumptions. "Asked too many questions and took too long to ask them. The bell means it's time to leave!" FYI your job is to teach. and the classiest "Rude, beligerent, argumentative f*ck." you tried to throw in a few "big words" but the final four letter word makes up for it. I am not going to call make up some "comment" to describe your teaching skills, personality, or character because I only spent an hour and a half each day for a semester with you. Just a small part of my day, and an even smaller part of my life. I can't judge you from just that... But your blog(this post alone) gives me a better and full picture. P.S. How was my use of ethos, pathos and logos?

Your ethos, pathos, and logos were pretty good. You could use some help determining satire. For what it's worth, I think 90 minutes a day, plus reading your writing (obviously a lot in an AP Lang class, oh that's right, I know you had her for AP Lang.), she can probably get a really good vibe on who you are.

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