teaching, blogging and professionalism

I recently read an article about a Philly area teacher, Natalie Munroe, who lost her high school teaching gig after ranting about students, coworkers and administrators on a blog. And after reading and thinking about my own blog and my own need to write about teaching and teaching practices, I ‘m on the fence about this one. 

Here’s a quote from the Phillyburbs.com article:

  • “My students are out of control. They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners,” she wrote in one post dated Oct. 27, 2009. “They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire and are just generally annoying.”

Now I say this to myself nearly everyday. I hear coworkers talk about this and also about strategies for improving student performance–should we be more or less strict. How can we engage our students. Perhaps every instructor says this. But should we blog about it. 

Since the school I teach at has no internet policy–or at least I am uncertain of the internet policy–I wonder about the material I place on this blog. Mostly this log is about my own failed writing and minor successes at creating text as art. And only recently have I opened this blog up to more on the subject of teaching and writing practices. And I do keep weblogs here on WordPress for my students to follow and more often than not they find their way to my personal blog. A few students have commented and posted on my blog. I don’t invite them here but I can honestly say I wouldn’t write anything here that I wouldn’t tell my students in conference–in my office or in the classroom. In fact, I lecture about suburban mediocrity quite often and mostly I joke with my friends and colleagues how my students must hate me. So should this Natalie Munroe be penalized for telling the truth in an open forum where she is open and honest about her identity? The article also shared how her photo and full name was on her blog so it was not as if she were hiding from her students. On the other hand I do teach at a community college and Natalie Munroe does teach at a public school so the guidelines and thought process is different.

 And yet what is the same is how I feel instructors should be–more open and honest about thoughts on classroom practices. I also think this is better than the anonymous Rate My Professor site colleagues tell me to stay clear of–and certainly honest blogging should be a preference over anonymous comments or YouTube responses that can be brutal and spiteful.

And this might be off topic but recently my hometown newspaper wrote a similar article on the local police department in a very similar issue. Some cops were blogging or posting on Facebook on their work and daily experiences and the Chief in a pretty controversial move is now requiring cops to limit or stop posting on Facebook–the article implied these cops were asked to close their Facebook accounts. Here’s a quote from the article titled Officer’s Website Get Limits:

  • The policy says officers cannot identify themselves as an officer “directly or indirectly, in any public forum,” post photos of themselves in uniform or show department patches, emblems, equipment or property — unless authorized by the chief of police.

Should professionals be required to limit their free speech? And at the same time shouldn’t professionals know to be thoughtful and careful about what they share online and in new social media forums?

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john paul jaramillo

John Paul Jaramillo’s debut story collection The House of Order was named a 2013 Int’l Latino Book Award Finalist, and his most recent work Little Mocos is now available from Twelve Winters Press. In 2013 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature listed Jaramillo as one of its Top 10 New Latino Authors to Watch and Read. He is currently a professor of composition and literature at Lincoln Land College-Springfield, Illinois.

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