Here we go with yet another high profile story of a teacher posting information about her job in the open space of the web and getting suspended when the bosses hear about it.
The Central Bucks School District has suspended a high school English teacher after parents complained to administrators about her blog in which she railed on her students for more than a year.
Since the original site has been pulled down, I have no way of knowing exactly what she wrote, but based on the news reports, I’m not sure I can muster much sympathy.
And her current posts about the aftermath do little to clarify or improve anything in this situation despite her writing about the “lack of respect for teachers as professionals”.
Certainly there’s always been a certain lack of respect for the teaching profession in this country. But insulting your students by name in multiple entries on a site archived by every available search engine over a year or more is not professional.
Or particularly smart.
However, this is thankfully an aberration. I can point you to many blogs by educators who regularly write about their classrooms, schools, and students, including the stupid mistakes that kids inevitably make.
What sets them apart from the few teachers who wind up on the evening news for their posts is the smart, creative, sympathetic, and positive way they present their students and classrooms, errors and all.
But beyond a negative impact on the profession, I also worry that stories like this dissuade other teachers and principals from blogging as well as from using the many wonderful tools for publishing on the web, both for themselves and their students.
And make administrators and school boards more likely to reflexively punish employees who create material with which they disagree.
If we really want to improve the image of the teaching profession, it can only be done with more transparency about what goes on in schools and greater connections to the public.
However, at it’s core, the issues involved in this and similar cases are not legal. This is an educational matter.
I’ve written a lot about the need to teach kids about the responsible way to represent themselves on the web but maybe it’s time we did the same for teachers.