What Happened to All the Teacher Bloggers? asks Anthony Rebora on Ed Week’s Teaching Now. He thinks fewer teachers are blogging regularly, except for ed-tech bloggers.
Are would-be teacher bloggers (a la Epiphany in Baltimore) just too frustrated or burnt out to write? Do they fear professional repercussions? Or has recreational blogging lost some of its cache with the rise of Facebook and Twitter?
Teacher bloggers often start strong, have their say and then decide to devote their energies to teaching rather than blogging. Are fewer newbies starting blogs? That could be.
In the Philadelphia suburbs, a Catholic school teacher was fired after she criticized a student’s anti-Obama speech for its tone and viewpoint on her blog, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Elizabeth Collins, an English teacher, writer, artist and “activist,” admitted her “annoyance” at the girl’s politics and posted her own model speech, which defended Obama’s policies. She encouraged students to move “beyond knee-jerk joining of their parents’ political party, and not become one-issue voters, to open their minds and consider the ramifications of their votes.”
The student’s parents, James J. White IV and Megan White, read the post and asked: “If this had been an overly liberal paper, would our daughter have been the subject of your blog?” When the Whites pressed their complaints, Collins used her blog to complain about provincial, intolerant, ultra-conservative parents. Eventually Academy of Notre Dame de Naumur fired Collins.
The Pennsylvania State Education Association says on its website that teachers should not blog about their “job duties, colleagues, supervisors, or students,” notes the Inquirer.
Mandy L. Fleisher, a PSEA staffer who gives workshops about blogging, said, “We recommend that people be safe rather than sorry.”
Others don’t go that far, but Chris Lehmann, principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia and a blogger, said he liked guidelines set down by a fellow education blogger, which include: “If you wouldn’t say it in a faculty meeting or yell it down the hallway during a passing period, perhaps you need to rethink posting it.”
Collins had every right to have a blog, although it might have been better to keep a private journal instead of presuming that anyone cared about the minutiae of her job. What she didn’t have a right to do is drag into public view something that was a private matter between teacher and student. If she felt the student’s work was mediocre, she should have given her a C. And if she disagreed with its viewpoint, she should’ve sucked it up. It’s not for a teacher to shill for a specific political or social philosophy.
Teachers have to separate professional duties from personal prejudice, Flowers writes.