Open thread: the teacher who blogged and got fired

I read an article about a teacher who blogged about her students in very unflattering way to say the least and has been put on leave (Teacher suspended for bashing students on blog, defends herself for vicious jokes she calls ‘casual’). I have had a family member contact me about that story as well as a reader. Thanks for your concern!

When I first read about her, my mouth went dry. But I believe that I am different and what I did was totally the opposite of what she did.

First, I blogged anonymously for my students, not about them. I love my students dearly and care about their well-being.

Second, I have never mentioned a school district, a school, or a meal vendor by name on this blog. This blog is not a personal attack. It was an experiment to raise awareness about the school lunch that I saw at my school and that I felt was representative of many of the school lunch programs across the country (not all, but some).

Third, what the teacher/blogger said was terrible. Putting down children is something no teacher should ever do. It was really stupid, but it was free speech. I don’t think she will end up losing her job, but she’d be wise to pursue other employment.

Fourth, she probably doesn’t like her job if she’s openly critical of her students. She needs to think about changing careers. They are minors and even though her students are in high school, they are still children.

I chose my profession to make a difference. The children are why I’m there and why I love what I do. I don’t talk about them very often but I care about them deeply. Putting people down (kids or adults) doesn’t move anyone forward. In terms of this blog and its effect on my life, I think I’m more likely to leave my current teaching position and look for the same thing somewhere else than be fired.

I believe that school lunch reform goes hand-in-hand with educational reform. Education is about the kids, their futures, and the direction of our country. If that teacher thinks her students are “lazy whiners,” she needs to look in the mirror and figure out if maybe it’s her attitude that needs to change.

What do you think about what she did?

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21 Responses to Open thread: the teacher who blogged and got fired

  1. Belinda @zomppa February 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    Wow. I have read about this – what you are doing is vastly different – you are raising awareness about the very food that goes into your students, not about the students themselves. We can't forget that professional courtesy and protocol extends into social media spheres.

  2. Scattered Mom February 19, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    I read the story too and can look at it from the eyes of someone who also works in the public school system, a blogger, AND a parent.

    I don't believe that it's fair or right for a teacher to blog about their students. My son has learning disabilities and dyspraxia, which is often very misunderstood. We have had to advocate for him throughout the 11 years he's been in school, and if at any time one of those teachers put in public print what they have said to us, I'd have been OUTRAGED.

    As a school staffer, I don't know these kids intimately, even though I spend hours with them every day. I don't believe it's morally right to be sharing their shortcomings and criticizing them online. Free speech or not, they are minors, they are kids, they aren't HERS, probably some have learning/behavioral/ issues, some may have special needs or difficult home lives, and it is just downright WRONG.

    To laud it as free speech makes me ill. It's worse than gossiping in a staff room because it is public.

    I may occasionally write about a funny/cute conversation that I had with a student, but they are never identified, it's never disparaging of the child, and it's always positive. ALWAYS. Because they deserve that.

  3. Anonymous February 19, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    She also posted no names and did not mention the name of her school or school district. I'm not sure how the students found her blog but her lawyers has stated she did everything in her power to keep herself and her students anonymous.

  4. Coupon Newbie February 19, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    Oh, no. I wasn't saying you were the same as her AT ALL. I was more afraid of it setting a precedence for the future. Guess it's from me living in a right-to-work state for so long. If you even think something bad of your employer (i.e. you don't like what snacks are in the machine? Go work for someone else with better snacks. Happens all the time here in Texas) I think what you're doing is awesome!!!!! I definitely hope it sets the better precedence for healthier school lunches.

  5. Sara February 19, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

    I agree that your blogs are both really different and have different goals!

    I think what this teacher did was really stupid, but also more indicative of a lack of judgment than a lack of caring about students or being a good teacher. I've known a lot of teachers, and even the very best teacher in the world will sometimes have to rant about a bad day, a frustrating student, etc. (as with any job, no matter how much you love it!). So I think the comments themselves were fairly par-for-the-course — everyone has a bad day sometimes, and if you look at the blog as a whole, it's not like the POINT of it was putting down students – there is really one post among many that people go upset about. Obviously, it was a bad call to put her frustrations out in public, particularly in a way that made it pretty easy to figure out who she was. But I don't think it necessarily makes her ill-suited for teaching or un-caring about her students.

  6. Jessica February 19, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    I read this story about a week ago, and I was also appalled, as I am going into teaching and will be graduating in just a year (and just started subbing). I've also decided to dedicate my life to teaching and I'm just shocked. Don't worry, Mrs. Q, you did nothing like this teacher did.

  7. Anonymous February 19, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    I read about the story and to be honest, I have no problem with what she did. If she had no names and no location on the blog, then I believe she is protecting their privacy enough.

    Many students today ARE lazy whiners! They do not have the drive or even the respect that we did when we were in school and I say GO HER for calling them out on it.

    I am a teacher as well, and I talk a lot of crap about people. Usually it is the parents, rather than the students, because I teach 1st graders and most of the time they don't realize things they do are wrong, and it is hard to fault a 6 year old for not doing their homework if they have to help at home. So I do say stuff about their parents. I would love to write "how about you stop getting pregnant for the welfare money and actually pay attention to the children you have so that one of them might actually pass" on a report card. Obviously I can't but I would love to.

    High school students though? Unless they have a disability, they have no excuse. If I taught high schoolers they would hate me because I would really have no sympathy for them at all. Don't turn in homework when it's due? F. Don't come to class? Reported. Try to get me to change your grade? Get out of my room.

    About time someone said SOMETHING about the way students behave.

    I am gonna post this as anonymous, because, gee I wouldn't want someone to find out who I am and suspend me!

  8. Melissa Duckett February 19, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

    As a teacher and a blogger, I started to worry. Granted I haven't seen her posts, and my blog is all about my kid and sewing (and some school projects, but only my examples), but I got worried. I think that to an extent, everyone vents about their jobs, including teachers. There are lots of frustrations and short comings of the system that play hard on a teacher's psyche, no matter the commitment to the career.
    I think it is sad that perhaps she didn't use the best judgment to make her rants public, but I can't disagree with the fact that teachers, too, have a right to free speech. If any other occupation can complain, teachers should be able to, as well.

  9. Amanda February 19, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    It's just dumb to complain about your job at all on a blog, even if you weren't a teacher. Don't put anything on a public blog that you don't want your boss to see! Sure, everyone complains about their job sometimes, but best to keep that private. I don't know about the legality of the issue, but this should be common sense. Haven't there been enough stories of people putting crazy drunk pictures of themselves on Facebook and getting fired? (Or similar cases.)

    Ms. Q's blog is different though. This isn't complaining. She's trying to help schools.

  10. Jooli February 20, 2011 at 12:54 am #

    I've been a follower of this blog for the longest and am a huge supporter, but Ms. Q, you obviously don't teach high school.

    As an urban city high school student myself, I wholly agree with Anonymous and really believe that Ms. Munroe's comments are overdue. You don't seem to understand why she did what she did—it was not to complain so much to express that students nowadays do not care. My classmates would much rather have sex and shoot drugs than do anything intellectually stimulating, and there is no respect for elders. I do not believe that Ms. Munroe has no place in education; if anything, her blog shows that she cares and is upset by what she sees.

    When you wrote "If that teacher thinks her students are "lazy whiners," she needs to look in the mirror and figure out if maybe it's her attitude that needs to change," I was appalled. Surely you know that you can't change others, and if her students are as uncooperative as my classmates, there's no point in even trying to talk to them.

    Ms. Munroe's words are not out of spite; she too is trying to help schools. As a dedicated and frustrated student surrounded by rude lazy American students, I applaud her and hope that more teachers speak out. It's time for change.

    And honestly, I think reform of the American teenage attitude is far more significant than school lunch.

  11. Mrs. Q February 20, 2011 at 1:13 am #

    I think that part of why I'm outraged is that I bristle when I hear the word "lazy." Many special needs kids are often called "lazy" when they are having trouble picking up concepts. Being called "lazy" can delay their receiving help.

    I find kids learn differently and I feel like it's my job to find "the way in."

  12. Jooli February 20, 2011 at 2:24 am #

    I completely agree with you, but Ms. Munroe teaches Honors English. I doubt that any of her students are special needs.

    Additionally, I apologize for the phrasing of my last sentence. I didn't mean to put your mission down in any way and just realized that that's what it sounds like.

  13. Anonymous February 20, 2011 at 2:51 am #

    I know of a person at a job I used to work at who blogged negative things about her job and got fired. She also did it from work, which had a no personal internet policy. It was a federal job. She got fired. Its something that can happen no matter where you work.

  14. izmir çetesi February 20, 2011 at 3:01 am #

    thanks

  15. Mrs. Q February 20, 2011 at 4:20 am #

    Jooli — I did not think you were putting me down at all! 🙂

  16. Anonymous February 20, 2011 at 4:38 am #

    I'm HIGHLY bothered by this woman's blog post about her students. Regardless of how much effort she took in protecting her identity, these are still teens who are entrusted to her for an education. If one thinks that poorly of one's students, no wonder the students don't work for her. That's the case in the professional world, too. When I have a boss who I know cares about me, my performance, and my success, I want to work that much harder to please him/her. I know I'm not alone in that! Kids deserve respect, too.

    And Mrs. Q, I see you as any other pioneer in the struggle for education–someone who gives above and beyond for her students.

  17. Jules February 20, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    I don't think the teacher did anything wrong. Her commentary on her blog may have been offensive to some, but she has the right speak her opinion. She also tried to stay as anonymous as possible, therefore protecting the identity of the children she was ranting about. Also, since she did not direct the rants to the children, nor signaled anyone out, she did not slander, defame, or verbally abuse anyone – minor or not.

    From reading the original AP article, it sounds like she is one of many Americans who uses blogging as an outlet for work frustration. Just because a worker expresses frustration for one element of her job, does not mean she does not like what she's doing, nor that she is in her profession for the wrong reasons. I do not understand why teachers are thus held to a double standard.

    What is troubling to me is that few seem to be asking the following questions – why did she feel unable to tell the students' parents' that their child or children were unmotivated and/or disengaged in school? Wouldn't this be the first step to getting the children the help they needed to succeed? If she *had* attempted to involve the parents… did they not respond? Are they as disengaged as their children? In some cases… it very well may be.

    If she was having trouble managing her classroom, reinforcing school dress code, or motivating students, where was the administration's help? Where is the parental involvement?

    I've been involved in education in various aspects and I can say that an educator can have a classroom with wonderful students… and one that acts out for a number of reasons. The teacher can foster frustration and a poor outlook on one student without having a tainted opinion of the rest of the class, which, I believe, is the case with Ms. Munroe.

  18. Anonymous February 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

    I am disappointed at the self-righteousness of all the teachers who are throwing this teacher under the bus. If you truly are a teacher who has never complained about your students (or their parents), congrats: you are a saint. Most of us teachers (I teach special education), though, need to rant and vent about our many, many frustrations.

    I hate to read these comments from people who most likely could have been overheard making similar comments to a friend in the grocery store or at a coffee shop – really the same as posting on an anonymous blog.

  19. Mrs. Q February 20, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    I'm not trying to be self-righteous (see my other comment re: the "lazy" label as it pertains to special ed) – I'm trying to be kind. People can vent about their job to family and friends. I would not bring up my students at a grocery store or a coffee shop – just like I wouldn't bring up my boss at the grocery store or coffee shop.

  20. Lauren M February 22, 2011 at 1:19 am #

    I tell ya, it worried me, too! I read a few blogs written by teachers. Anytime they/we share stories it's always vague and sweet, happy stories of the teaching experience. But still, I cleaned up my blog a little and will always, ALWAYS keep this incident in mind when I blog about my job. I think you've been very professional with this blog, Mrs. Q and I hope I have/am, too. Here are more thoughts on this subject: http://todayslesson-theartofbalance.blogspot.com/2011/02/teacher-conduct.html

  21. Anonymous February 26, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    Um, this is really nothing new. Years ago I went to a prestigious college in Massachussetts and one day overheard some professors bitching to each other about how lazy the students were, how unwilling they were to put forth any real effort, yet the overall student sense of entitlement to A's remained. At the time, I was maybe a freshman but I felt the professors were probably right to complain. And then I'd wonder if my papers were being met with the same degree of disenchantment.

    I can't help feeling that each generation really IS a bit lazier than the preceding one. Soft lives, excessive in electronic attachments, deficient in hard work (both physical and mental), and it's a natural outcome.

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