“Natalie Munroe, the 30-something Pennsylvania teacher who got in trouble for anonymously referring on her blog to unnamed students as “annoying” and “lazy” ” (this from The Christian Science Monitor) has been in the news lately (thanks to Alexander Russo, who’s quoted in the article, for the tip).
I’m sorry, I have little or no sympathy for her.
In An Open Letter to Natalie Monroe, Chris Lehman eloquently expressed the reasons behind my feelings — better than I probably could. I’d encourage you to read his entire post, but here’s an excerpt:
You see… you don’t teach English. You teach kids. Flawed, messed-up, never perfect, wonderful, amazing kids.
Every child you denigrated has something wonderful about them, even when you didn’t see it.
Every child you insulted has worked hard at something, even if it wasn’t on the assignment you wanted them to work hard on.
Every child you mocked has aspirations, even if they don’t match up with the ones you want them to have.
Here are the reasons why I blog, which is a list I post a couple of times a year. I added a new important one at the end.
Writing this blog….
…gives me a little more incentive to be on the look-out for new resources — and pushes me to be a little more creative in my thinking about how to use them — so that I can be a better teacher with my English Language Learner and mainstream students.
…allows me to share resources that non-techy people like me can actually use. Many people would be surprised at how limited my technical abilities are. If I can’t figure out how to use an application in a minute or two, I won’t write about it or use it.
…helps me clarify my thinking about the role of technology in the classroom. To paraphrase an economist who was talking about the role of the free market, I believe that technology has its place, but also has to be kept in its place. I don’t think computers are a “magic bullet,” and though I believe they offer a particular “value-added” benefit to English Language Learners, I’m less convinced about their advantages for non-ELL’s. Writing this blog provides me a forum to share my on-going classroom research to clarify this thinking. (See Results From My Year-Long U.S. History Tech Experiment)
…provides me with a forum to clarify my thinking about the on-going classroom management and instructional challenges (see What Do You Do When You’re Having A Bad Day At School?) faced by me, and many other teachers in inner-city urban schools (and probably in many other schools, too).
…helps me develop connections with a broader Personal Learning Network than I would otherwise have. It’s a privilege to virtually “meet” so many other teachers with wisdom to offer.
…gives me an arena where I can share my thoughts on a progressive vision of school reform.
…offers me additional writing opportunities on issues I have a particular passion about. These opportunities have also included three books published by Linworth Publishing, both connecting my nineteen-year community organizing career with my six-year teaching career. One is titled Building Parent Engagement in Schools and the other is titled English Language Learners: Teaching Strategies That Work. My third book will be published by Eye on Education in April.
My new reason is that I often share what I write with my students. As I wrote in How I Milked A Lesson For Every Last Ounce Of Learning And Why I’m An Idiot For Not Thinking Of It Earlier, sharing what I write about my students with my students is a clear indication that I really do think about them when I’m not in school, that I valued what they say and think, and that I am proud and want to tell others about them.
Sharing, reflecting, challenging, and celebrating — those are the reasons why I blog….