Tag Archives: students

Is blogging about 'whiny students' bad?

Everyone has gripes about their jobs.   Bad days happen, cranky co-workers, tasks that are begging to be done but being put off because…well, they suck.  Those who are bolder about job gripes have been known to send a status update out to the universe about the sucky aspects of their workplace.  Bolder still, some even BLOG about their grievances. 

That’s what a high school English teacher did. 

I don’t want to pick on teachers, but it seems that this is the profession being held to certain standards.  Here’s another example.   Natalie Munroe of Pennsylvania keeps an anonymous blog where she writes about her life, including the good and bad parts of her job – the bad namely regarding her students.  And let’s face it, the negative is a tad bit more interesting than the good.

For example:

“My students are out of control,” Munroe wrote in one post. “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.”

Quoting the musical “Bye Bye Birdie”: “Kids! They are disobedient, disrespectful oafs. Noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy LOAFERS.”

And this one where she writes what she wishes she could add to their evaluations admittedly made me giggle a little:

“I hear the trash company is hiring.”
“I called out sick a couple of days just to avoid your son.”
“Rude, beligerent [sic], argumentative f**k.”
“Just as bad as his sibling. Don’t you know how to raise kids?”
“Asked too many questions and took too long to ask them. The bell means it’s time to leave!”
“Nowhere near as good as her sibling. Are you sure they’re related?”
“Shy isn’t cute in 11th grade; it’s annoying. Must learn to advocate for himself instead of having Mommy do it.”
“Too smart for her own good and refuses to play the school ‘game’ such that she’ll never live up to her true potential here.”
“Am concerned that your kid is going to come in one day and open fire on the school. (Wish I was kidding.)”

But some people are NOT giggling – namely the students who found her obscenity riddled blog that mocked those she was teaching.  Neither was the school that has suspended her without pay. 

Monroe did not use her last name in her blog (before she was found out, it appears there now), nor did she use any of her students’ names.  And she kept many of the details as general as possible.   Monroe argues that there were even a few positive posts about her job in her blog, but admits she also wrote negatively about students out of frustration, mostly over the feeling that students are getting a free pass at home and at school.

“Parents are more trying to be their kids’ friends and less trying to be their parent,” Munroe said, also noting students’ lack of patience. “They want everything right now. They want it yesterday.”

Her blog has struck a nerve on both sides of the fence – those who are cyring freedom of speech, and other who question her ethics as a role model for children.   The blog (that originally had only 7 followers – herself and her husband included) was initially taken down, but as of last night was put back up at natalieshandbasket.blogspot.com – though all incriminating posts are gone and all that is left is an article pleading her case: 

“What bothers me so much about this situation is that what I wrote is being taken out of context. Of my 84 blogs, 60 of them had absolutely nothing to do with school or work. Of the 24 that mentioned it, only some of them were actually focused on it–others may have mentioned it in passing, like if I was listing things that annoyed me that day and wrote without any elaboration that students were annoying that day.

In essence, people are latching onto pieces of what I wrote without A. knowing any back story, and B. knowing the whole story. The student or parents who took it upon themselves to dig up my blog–and be assured that that is what happened, as they were looking for it and didn’t just stumble upon it–are the ones who started this fracas, and they also made sure that only pieces of the whole picture came to light.”

What are your thoughts?  Should a teacher be allowed to gripe about her job in an anonymous blog?  Or does this cross the line completely?

When words are weapons

Sticks and stones might break my bones, but words will never hurt me. The childhood rhyme was one taught to us so that we wouldn’t take too literally what another kid was saying to us. And while we recited it, I think many of us can agree –

It’s a lie.

Words hurt, sometimes even more than sticks and stones ever could. While the wounds from a thrown rock will heal with time, some words penetrate so deeply they tend to leave lasting damage that has the power to strengthen that hurt over time. That is why some of us have eating disorders, why we choose the wrong partner to fall in love with, why we try to seek approval from our parents, or why we watch how we parent our own children so that we aren’t like our mothers or fathers.  Words can be weapons.

And the internet only makes this truer.

It is in this day and age when a big portion of our communication is done online. It’s convenient and instant, and it gets the word across in a much broader way than the old-fashioned method of calling people up on the phone and setting up a meeting time. It’s a great way to seek instant attention, to pretend like we have an audience hanging on our every word. And for those brief moments, there really is an audience. And that is probably what was going on in the mind of one Nevada 12 year old who created a group called “Attack a Teacher Day”, inviting more than 100 students to partake at certain time on a certain day, inspiring 5 other students to list the teachers they would like to attack with words like “die” in front of the specific teacher’s name.

Of course, it is plausible “Attack a Teacher Day” had just as much authenticity as other events that have been spread more worldwide thanks to social networking, events like “Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day” or “Talk like a Pirate Day”. Could it be that these girls created an event to pretend they would attack a teacher just for the amusement of themselves, and not to actually attack a teacher? Sure. But is it even more plausible that a group like this could incite attacks against this teacher, encouraging any student reading it to actually follow through and harm their teacher? I believe so – especially after reading this story of a third grader in Georgia who brought a knife to school, ultimately unfolding into a plot that involved several students who played roles in harming their teacher – complete with handcuffs, electric tape, a paper weight, and more.

“It seems the plan was hatched in retaliation after one of the students was scolded by the teacher for standing on a chair. Authorities were amazed at the sophistication of the plan, which included a division of roles. One of the students was to cover the windows so no one could see into the room. Another was assigned to clean up after the attack.” Saul Relative, AP

All this was done without the internet. So what of the danger in a more widespread plan of attack using the convenience of social networking and the permanency of words placed on the web?

Words have power. They have power when face to face, they have power over the phone, they have power when written in a letter, and they have power when scribed online for anyone to see. Words have the power to bring someone up, and they have power to tear someone down. They also have the power to create a mob mentality, blurring the lines between wrong and right, resulting in something like attacking – even killing – a teacher simply because they are disliked. Who knows what would have happened if authorities hadn’t stepped in….

Cyber bullying and permanent negativity on the internet does not just happen to kids across the state, or in another part of the country. It happens right here, in our own homes, on the computers of our teens. This is why I am Facebook friends with my children, why I consistently check in with them in regards to what they are doing online, and keep an eye on what they are writing. It’s not nosiness. It’s keeping them safe, and ensuring they learn how to use the internet properly. There have been times I’ve had to have conversations regarding things I’m not ok with. And the topic of how permanent words are on the internet has been a regular discussion in our household ever since either of them was allowed on the computer.

It should be a regular topic of discussion in your house too.

Words written with a negative or sarcastic tone could be read as something completely different – even dangerous. And when one writes out that they HATE someone or something, that they wish someone would DIE, or creates a group for fun that dictates harm or hate towards someone else, not only will it further that hate, it could create a potentially dangerous situation – even enticing a mob to react. And all things involved, those words can no longer be seen as harmless. When words are put together to form a HATE group stating the date and time when attacks should take place, those words are weapons.