Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Natalie Munroe Is Blogging Again!

Blogging teacher blogging again

Bucks County Courier Times
The Central Bucks teacher who was suspended last week for complaining about her students defends herself online and in an interview.
The Central Bucks East High School English teacher who got suspended last week for complaining about her students on a blog is at it again.
And she is making no apologies for what she said - defending herself through her blog and in an interview with this newspaper Monday.
"While I never in a million years would have guessed that this many people would ever see my words, and I didn't even intend them to, I stand by what I wrote and I think it's good that people are aware now," Natalie Munroe wrote on her blog Saturday morning.
"There are serious problems with our education system today - with the way that schools and school district and students and parents take teachers who enter the education field full of life and hope and a desire to change the world and positively impact kids, and beat the life out of them and villainize them and blame them for everything - and those need to be brought to light. If this 'scandal' opens the door for that conversation, so be it. Let that conversation begin. Stay tuned here."


  1. She's a moron and a hypocrite. She wants to pontificate on accountability, but she got caught blogging things she wouldn't say in the faculty room and doesn't want to accept the consequences.

    She wants to "discuss" accountability while blogging that she "chats on the drive". Is she ready to "account" for being a shitty driver? Cell phone drivers are delusional. They think they drive fine. They drive like potheads. I'm always behind some jackass going 40 in the center lane on the parkway trying to get here. It slows traffic and causes accidents. Blog about having halfway decent habits before you get righteous about the kids these days.

    This isn't 1998. She doesn't live under a rock. She can't harp on accountability and then play naive kitten about the privacy of blogs. It's one or the other. Should her students be accountable, or was she just blind sided and people make mistakes and it's ok not to know any better?

  2. Her comments on the post that seems to be creating the most controversy (which is now gone from the blog itself, but which ELS dug up and linked to in the earlier CM discussion) strike me as a combination of very funny and all-too-true and just plain mean (comprehensive personal attacks, based, as one of her students points out, on limited evidence). Interestingly, her former students, whose comments also range between bullying/mean and quite articulate, seem to be using some pretty sophisticated literary/rhetorical language accurately, which suggests that she may in fact be a pretty good teacher, even if neither she nor her students much like each other.

    But yeah, especially given the fact that she is au fait with concepts like audience and ethos, she should have decided whether she wanted to write a private, members-only blog or a public one, and adjusted her tone and degree of self-revelation accordingly. I suspect she has something useful to contribute to the conversation about education in this country, but she's not going to be able to put this particular cat back in the bag, and that's going to detract from anything else she writes, in whatever venue (see ethos, above).

  3. Ok so maybe so maybe posting these opinions so publicly with her picture and name was not smart, but was it unethical? Illegal? I admit I have not read her blog, I do not have the time to do so, however this does raise a question for me.

    If she is fired because she wrote about students will students in turn be expelled for writing about their peers or their teachers? For example if one of the primary concerns is that she called her students stupid and lazy (which they may be) will students get expelled for calling a classmate a slut or calling one of their teachers a bitch online?

    The sword cuts both ways!

  4. I hate educators who blog. They're so stupid and irresponsible.

  5. FML - I would agree that she should not be fired.

    But she wants to shine a light on the plight of teachers and how we're bullied and villified, then turns around and calls her students "frightfully dim". I'm on board with railing against the lazy and obnoxious. I'm on board with saying the dummies shouldn't go to college. But she's in public school. Some kids are "frightfully dim". What are they supposed to do? Drop out and do heroin? Being "dim" isn't something they can help. Lazy - yes - bitchy - yes - all of that is fair game. Stupid in college - that too is fair game. But to pick on the dumb kids in high school shows she thinks it's ok for HER to blow off steam in a snarky manner but it's not ok for people to view teachers in a negative light.

    Picking on stupid public school kids is bullying. That cuts both ways too.

    Though I'm a failure of a Quaker, the struggling Quaker inside me will admit her IDEAL that a healthy positive environment where we aren't villified is the right goal. But she's only contributing to it when she's blogging about her "dim" public school kids.

    Her IDEAL that students be accountable is also right. But she should be accountable too. And when you blog that your public school student is "frightfully dim" and then get thrown on the hot seat for it, you have to be accountable too.

  6. So what does accountable mean in this instance?

  7. Actually, being dim is one of the few things you don't have to be accountable for. Ignorant, yes, badly prepared, yes, lazy, yes, inattentive, yes. But not plain old dim -- that's the luck of the draw. And the public schools have to take everyone, so it's not a matter of "who admitted this idiot, anyway?" Therefore teachers are accountable to the dim, and I always thought part of that accountability was not making fun of them publicly.

  8. She said something inappropriate and counter to her ideal of mutual respect. To be accountable she should say "I said some things that were inappropriate and disrespectful. But..." not "I didn't do anything wrong and it's my right to say what I said and what I said makes things better."

    She should acknowledge what was wrong and restate her intended purpose. Not try to justify the parts that were wrong as though they further her cause.

    Cutting children down does not further her cause. That's just an excuse. I'm sure if her students gave her as thin an excuse she'd have a blog entry about it. If she copped to having said things that were over the line and then said "It came out of frustration because of these other things that I think 'we' need to address." she'd be more credible. But she's not conceeding to anything. There's no accountability.

  9. Cassandra,

    If teachers are not to be automatically blamed for failure, and if instead look to students, parents and others, then we should not look to praise teachers automatically for students success.

  10. I was just kind of horrified at this comment to the reports post (from cache) by one of her students:

    "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."

    It's scary to think that some students think a teacher's "job" is to give them an A.

  11. @Resident: generally, I agree with you. I don't tend to claim credit for my student's successes (or failures), just for setting up conditions (exercises, assignments, etc.) which will allow the maximum number of them, it they put in the requisite amount of effort, to develop (or at least improve) the skills I'm charged with teaching them, and for providing guidance along the way (if/when forced to write a teaching philosophy statement, I tend toward using teaching-as-midwifery metaphors). The students' success (or failure) is ultimately their own.

    But I teach a skill-focused class (writing), with very little information transfer. In the case of the blog comments, I saw several self-identified former students using some fairly sophisticated rhetorical terms against the teacher who had taught them those terms, and doing so correctly and pretty effectively. That suggested to me that they had taken both some knowledge (what those terms mean) and a skill (applying the terms correctly) away from the class, and were able to use both in a novel situation. I'd count that as a pedagogical success of some sort. If the skills had been more general (e.g. grammar), or less clearly associated in the students' minds with this particular teacher, I would have been less inclined to see their use as an indicator of the effectiveness of her teaching.

    @RachelH: that one stuck out for me, too, as particularly disturbing. As I said above, I'm perfectly willing to take responsibility for creating the conditions in which students can *improve* their skills, but if everybody gets to the A level by the end of the class, then I probably haven't made the tasks challenging enough, and some students haven't learned as much as they could have (mind you, the great majority of my students end up with well-earned Bs of some sort by the end of my classes -- but As, no).

  12. I don't think that we should be down on Munroe for what she stated about unidentified students, faculty, and admin. We've done the same sort of stuff here. The only difference is we've picked pseudonyms and fake pics. Hello, Pot!

    We don't know that she wouldn't have said those things in the faculty lounge. At department meetings, my colleagues and I gripe about student preperation and admin support. We exchange CM type stories when we need some sanity injected from the outside.

    I don't think that Munroe should appologize for what she did. If writing that blog kept her from strangling a student, then it was a good move. CM has kept me from turning in my keys at least once. So I won't apologize for something that has kept me from leaving my colleagues in teh lurch.

    I don't think that she is skirting accountability at all. In the article it said there was no internet or blogging policy in the district. So there is nothing for her to be accountable for. And retroactive punishment is kind of something we frown on in the States. At most this needs to be a wake-up call for the district to establish a policy and ask that she refrain from blogging (although, I suspect that wouldn't be a legal thing to do, but idk). I highly suspect that if this goes to court the judge will rule in Munroe's favor and school will lose buttloads of money that it could have spent on chalk and erasers.

  13. The anonymity and fake names and stuff isn't a trivial difference. It's a HUGE difference. Tell me how kid is supposed to walk into a teacher's room knowing specific mean things their teacher, for sure, has said.

    It's very different to vent anonymously about "flakes" then to say "frightfully dim" and "I hate your child" with your real face about students who can then identify themselves. And they are public school kids.

    She does us a disservice by folding her inappropriate actions in with an after-the-fact-fabricated mission to shine a light on our plight. Does she concoct some good points in the end? Yes. She is now saying things that are dead on correct and very nicely presenting the true heart of our problem. But she mixed it in with reckless comments that are hurtful to children who can identify themselves. She makes teachers look mean rather than down trodden.

    I do think she deserves to keep her job. I hope the state agrees with us. Unfortunately for her, I think she's going to be very uncomfortable there anyway. But she should have thought of that before she acted. Nothing is private on the interent. We all know that.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.