Sunday, February 20, 2011

it's not the world that I am changing

Wow, the response to my last post about tweeting with the munchkins has been nothing short of overwhelming, in the best possible way. After 500+ page views in 3 days, I am a little nervous that NOTHING I write is going to measure up to that.

The attention drawn by that post has made me think A LOT about my online presence. While I do not use my real name here, my real name is "out there." In the last few weeks, all 4 kindergarten classes at my school have created Twitter accounts, and my school community is increasingly aware of my involvement with a Twitter-based PLN of kindergarten teachers. After some soul-searching, I shared my last post (and some other posts ABOUT my post), with my boss. That post may lead to other collaboration opportunities, and collaboration with other ACTUAL PEOPLE does not lend itself well to remaining anonymous... And, of course, at the same time as I was wrestling with all of this, along came the case of Natalie Munroe, who was suspended from her teaching position due to things she wrote in her blog...

So, I have made some changes. I have carefully re-read and re-worded and re-thought anything that mentioned my colleagues, my students, or their parents. While every single word I have ever written here has always come out of love: for the children, and for the profession of teaching, that same love has compelled me to reconsider how to use this space.

It breaks my heart a little - telling honest, messy, complicated, joyful stories about CHILDREN was what compelled me to start a teaching blog in the first place. Writing out my struggles is a tremendous coping tool for me, and I received positive, precious feedback from others who read those stories. While I want to believe that anything I wrote about "my" kiddos always conveyed my heart-breaking love for them, I also love them too much to make them vulnerable here. I have kept the drafts of all of their stories, and perhaps one day will find a means to share them again, in a way that protects both the children and me (ideas, anyone?!).

The post about Twitter has opened up a world of possibility for me, and I am humbled by the recognition I have received for it. It is all a little tainted, though, by knowing that it has come at a cost.
For now: I am hopeful that my voice here will remain my own and that you will continue to read my stories... And, if you are a teacher who blogs: how are you dealing with all this? What is your approach to the questions  of anonymity and confidentiality? What are your thoughts about Natalie Munroe? Remember: anonymous or not, comments are like crack to bloggers!

Happy Sunday to all, and happy long weekend to many.

2 comments:

  1. While I understand and agree with your choice, I worry about what happens when we are not able to talk about the messy moments of teaching. I think the more teacher musings become like an over-edited facebook profile we have lost some level of shared humility in this really difficult job. It is getting through the messiness, the temporary failures, the frustrations, where we need the most support from our real and virtual community. I wonder if Natalie Munroe had a community of support at her school where she could talk out her frustrations, own what was hers to own, and find better ways to work through her emotions with the help of her colleagues. I am guessing she either did not have it or did not know how to ask for help when she needed it. I am not excusing her behavior but I think some of it was driven by her own feelings of shame and failure. She had a choice to blame herself or blame her students and we all know what choice she made. But there are other choices beyond blame but they require us to be brave enough to share our failures with the hope of finding a community that offers both compassion and honesty.

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  2. Hi Molly
    I agree so much with what you are saying about needing to share the messiness of what we do. Without being able to read her original blog entries, it is difficult to know the exact tone and context of Natalie Munroe's comments about her students. As someone who considers Sarcasm my 3rd language, I know I constantly run the risk of being misunderstood in print. After some powerful conversations with my own admins (and I know that I am tremendously blessed to have admins who are PART of my support system) and my twitter PLN, I think I can continue to write here in my own voice -- a voice that inevitably includes the messy complexities of classroom life -- in a way that does not risk causing pain to my students, colleagues, or school community. To the best of my knowledge, while Natalie Munroe has been valiantly defending her right to say what she said, she has not acknowledged that her words caused pain, and THAT, to me, is perhaps her biggest mistake. That said, if she was truly in a situation where the ONLY outlet for her own frustration was her blog, you are correct - this is a case of a teacher lacking a support system. As I have been known to say: teachers' working conditions are children's learning conditions. If Ms Munroe's working conditions were lonely and toxic, it is little wonder that those things were transmitted (thru her writing, if not more directly) to her students.

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