Friday, February 18, 2011

My Right to Blog

I am a teacher.  I have my "18 or older" warning on my blog at the request of my school administrator.  It is a nod to preventing my students, who could easily Google my name, from reading my blog.  Why?  Because I occasionally discuss orgasms, penises, and the like.  I write romance and I blog about writing romance -- of course my content may be explicit in nature.  If a student finds my site, reads it and is offended, I would blame the parents of the child for not properly supervising his/her internet access.  Although I may occasionally mention my teaching as it pertains to writing, I consider this blog and my writing completely outside the scope of my day job.

I started this blog with the idea of developing a web-presence in order to promote my writing.  I discovered I really enjoyed blogging and the online writing community.  It never occured to me that there might be a problem.  While I am not currently in any trouble, another teacher in Pennsylvania is.  She blogged with a small following of friends and family.  Known only as Natalie M., she shared her personal feelings about her life (which included her job) but never named names or locations.  A student found her blog and it became an issue.  Why?  Because she dared to share how she felt and her feelings were not politically correct.

Read an article about it here.

Although I agree that having a public blog (you can make it available to members only) where you share that you hate your job is not a smart move in any profession, I think the response is excessive.  She never slandered anyone, she merely stated her opinion.  She has been suspended and will probably be fired in a knee-jerk reaction to please the masses.  I could understand if she was breaking the law in some way or potentially predatory, but no, she was disgruntled and disillusioned and lacked the foresight to realize something almost anonymous would become an issue.

If she is not fired, she should probably find another job.  Not only will it be impossible to teach with her students believing that she has no respect for them or their potential, but it seems like is no longer inspired to be a teacher.  And believe me, in order to survive each day, you have to honestly believe you're making a difference.  Of course, now that I've said that, I wonder if I should worry about my own livelihood? 

So this is a shout out to a fellow blogger who, foolishly perhaps, dared to state her opinion.  She can help herself to the Risk Taker Extraordinaire award if she happens by.  Best of luck, Natalie M.


Misha Gerrick said...



Sorry. I tried to find something to say, but I think you said it all.


Candyland said...

Scary to know that every word is being watched by someone.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Yes, it's a shame she can't voice her opinion without repercussions, but she knew it was the internet (and I don't believe anything is anonymous when you post on it). Every thing I post I try to make sure what I say won't come back to bite me in the a**. I don't need that kind of publicity!

Talli Roland said...

Blogging is tricky, because it's so easy to forget that everything we say is out there for the public to read.

Susan Kane said...

As a retired teacher, it was always in my mind that something I said or did could be misinterpreted. But that was in the classroom. It is a sad commentary on the state of our politically correct society that a teacher has to censor her/himself, even off the job.
I hope someone sees the bigger picture, and the teacher will find sanctuary somewhere.

Kathleen said...

I can see this story prompting students to Google all their teachers and dig up "the dirt" on them! It's hard to figure out where the school's responsibility ends and the parents' begins.

HowLynnTime said...

My mother taught for 27 years, believe me I have lived the have to bow and scrape to keep parents from.... you know! There is always one set of crazy people who have bred in every school system...and they must be pampered and preened.

In the old days they could almost be ignored into going away. But things began to change.

I do take some risk in my writing - ok I take a lot. Anne R. wrote of the devil when part of the bill of rights still existed. Things are very different now. This is an era in which People may show up to harrass the family of a fallen soldier with ugly signs, yet if we speak our mind too vocally against der fuhrer, or the minions, we may be labled.
Yes, this teacher witch hunt is a terrible pity, as was our own recently. Look up Linda Homa - who was my sons first teacher. these days they are a changing....

I am glad I found your blog too.

Andrew Rosenberg said...

Sorry Erin, you're a teacher, a public employee, and a representative of the community. No matter how you frame it, you're going to be held to a higher standard. Parents are expecting you to care for their children and to be a role model.
Heck, I'm a nobody and there are certain topics I'm not going to talk about on my blog because I don't want it to affect my career. I don't talk about past employers, I stay away from politics and religion, and I try to avoid bashing anything (although I don't always succeed).
What that teacher did was clearly out of line by any interpretation. If she had any issue with any student, then she needs to use appropriate channels such as talking to the students or parents. Blogging about it, especially the way she did, only shows that she's a particularly ineffective teacher and should be censured.
Yes, she has the right to say what she did, but since when can't "everything you say can and will be used against you"?
I think the moral of the story here is one that should be obvious to everyone: don't blog about your job...especially if it's a complaint. It's the quickest way to be fired. And of course, if you're a writer...don't complain about other writers, agents, editors, publishers, readers, reviews, etc etc etc.
At my last job, a guy who I worked directly with left for another company and blogged about the problems at my company. That blog found its way into the New York Times. Don't be that guy. Don't be Natalie Monroe either.

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