Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blogging With Consequences: Follow Up

Yesterday I wrote about Natalie Munroe, a high school English teacher in Pennsylvania, as did many other bloggers and media sources. The only sources available then were quotes from the media and short interviews with Natalie herself.
But today she has started blogging again. Of course, she has plenty of time since she has been suspended with pay.

Here are some important points to keep in mind when making any judgements:
(taken from
Natalie's latest blog, in which she defends her actions)

-According to Natalie, her blog "
talked about everything--such exciting topics as our trip to Sesame Place, my favorite (and least favorite) restaurants, my work experiences, the diaper genie." Contrary to popular belief, her blog was not just a site to bash students and teachers.

-She was not trying to become a celebrity blogger, but rather blogged for her friends. She had "
9 followers--2 of whom were my husband and myself, the other 7 were friends." I could get more followers than that just by tweeting and asking people to follow me. She was obviously attempting to maintain some sort of anonymity. She could have easily had these conversations over the phone or while sharing a cup of coffee and no one would have judged her.

-Over the course of 2 years, she blogged a total of 84 times. I have been blogging for about 7 months and have already posted 115 times. This post will be number 116 and I read many blogs that are updated even more than mine. With that being said, it is apparent that she did not spend all of her time blogging. It isn't like she was spending every spare moment writing about work. Out of those 84 posts, "
60 of them had absolutely nothing to do with school or work." So, over the course of 2 years, she mentioned her workplace 24 times. I've known teachers to complain about students every single day. While her posts were harsh, exaggerated, even in some cases, extreme, she was venting, which is a right that every American has regardless of profession.

In the
words of Natalie, "The fact remains that every year, more and more, students are coming in less willing to work, to think, to cooperate. These are the students I was complaining about in my blog. The same way millions of Americans go home at the end of the day and complain about select coworkers or clients or other jerks they had to deal with, I came home and complained on my blog about those I had to deal with."

blogger wrote about this same situation (thanks to my husband for finding this link). One of her commenters, a college professor, struck a chord with me stating, "I teach at the college level, and I see these same things. But, where do WE go to vent and exchange ideas? It annoys me to no end that students can go to and bitch about how unfair professors are. Someone who came late to every class, missed half the classes, didn’t study can attack me on that site and tell the world I am a terrible instructor. Why isn’t the school suspending these students?"

Everyone will agree that being a teacher is one of the most under-appreciated, underpaid, and most difficult professions that one can have. Yet we expect these teachers to never complain (especially in a public arena), never tell the truth about the realities of teaching in America (unless commenting to a spouse over the dinner table and heaven forbid that these complaints are ever documented), and always maintain a positive attitude, 24 hours a day, regardless of having to deal with students described as such:
My students are out of control. They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners. They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying. (source)

After hearing and reading
Natalie's side of the story, has your opinion changed at all? Since being made aware of this story yesterday morning, I have felt nothing but sympathy toward her, perhaps because I have spent time in a classroom and know just how treacherous (as well as wonderful) it can be. Of course it is easier to complain about the negative than brag about the positive.

If you'd like to read an example of one of her blog posts, check out this link that one of the anonymous commenters left.  She documents some of her struggles in the classroom, the disrespect, and unwillingness to follow simple directions (if you still don't believe that teaching is difficult, spend a few weeks in a high school classroom.  You just might be shocked). 

I wish her the best and hope that she is given ample opportunity to voice her side of the story.  Too often the media villanizes the situation early in the game, leaving little room for redemption or explanation.

**By the way, I love when you respond to my posts, even if you disagree with me.  Please feel free to voice your opinions without feeling the need to remain anonymous. 


  1. I think it's a shame that she was suspended. Where is the Freedom of Speech in all of this? And knowing that a lot of bloggers use their blogs as a diary for catharsis - this steams me that she is getting so much grief for this. However, it does seem from the post you provided, that she is very negative about this particular class and is having a difficult time creating an environment that is conducive to learning instead of conflict.

    That being said - I just wrote this post Is Tiger Love Feral or Admirable? in response to the Amy Chua uproar. In it I agree with her observation that American parents and kids are not taking responsibility for their actions and are instead criticizing the qualifications of the teacher. The boy who received a B deserved it and is worth discussing because it is more and more prevalent.

    The story about the chair however seemed petty on the teacher's part. She could have easily switched the chairs when the class let out and wouldn't have lost that respect with the kids.

    Tough road - but ultimately I believe you should be smart about what you post on-line and if you are wanting to be able to speak freely then you need to blog anonymously.

  2. I completely agree with you, and I read her blog about Wednesday, too. Quite sad, because as I said on previous posts, I heard people say almost the exact same things in the staff room at two different schools I work with. (Things like "I hate that kid!") And since no one really knows me by my AIM screename anymore and I can't remember the password, I figured it was fine to be anonymous. (It's Mary Anne, BTW, Shoni.)I do agree with others, though, that people have a false sense of privacy on the internet, and probably need to learn how to be smarter about using it. I'm sure lots of other teachers with personal blogs are deleting previous posts right now, out of fear!

  3. Shoni,

    Great site! Interested in seeing a new and wildly unique teacher's blog? One that’s deeply thoughtful, literate, and downright funny? Then enjoy A Dixie Diary, at The response from readers all over America has been astonishing.

    Actually published a few days ago during the midst of the Munroe business, this unique teacher's journal shows a different look at what happens in the schoolhouse by a rookie teacher who loves his work and his students, but he expresses his thoughts and observations in a hugely different way than Mrs. Munroe. Sure, there are some intense student-teacher moments, even some choice words, too, but mostly it's world-class hilarious, heartwarming … like reading a good book.

    It's the teacher's blog we've been waiting for. It's simply mesmerizing.