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Teacher Suspended Over Blog About Students 634

Posted by samzenpus
from the sticks-and-e-stones dept.
English teacher Natalie Munroe is in a bit of hot water after she described the precious snowflakes in her class as: “Frightfully dim,” “Rat-like,” “Am concerned your kid is going to open fire on the school,” “I hate your kid,” and “Seems smarter than she actually is,” on her blog. The Central Bucks School District has suspended Natalie after parents complained to administrators. “It’s hard to know that you sat in her class for an hour and a half a day and for her to feel that way it is like, it is an awful feeling,” student Alli Woloshyn said.
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Teacher Suspended Over Blog About Students

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  • Not an YRO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Thursday February 10, 2011 @04:18PM (#35165766) Journal

    I don't think this teacher's suspension over the blog is a violation of her rights online. Everyone is free to say what they wish without risk of government censorship. But on the flip side of the coin, everyone must also bear the consequences of their speech. She went online, said something stupid and now she has to deal with the consequences of that.

    And frankly, she deserves to be suspended. Clearly, if she's posting this kind of stuff, her ability to teach those kids she refers to as idiots and rats is compromised. Does anyone want to be taught by someone who feels nothing but contempt for them?

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      Does anyone want to be taught by someone who feels nothing but contempt for them?

      Does anyone want to teach people who feel nothing but contempt for them? No, but they do anyway, and for a pittance compared to what they have to deal with. I say good for her.

      • Re:Not an YRO (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @04:28PM (#35165918)

        That might be, but nobody forced her to take the job or change her feelings. If the children were that dim there are ways of handling it. Sometimes parents do need to be told that the student isn't performing adequately. Typically that's done via report card, note home or possible home visit. Handling it via social networking site is completely unforgivable.

        Typically I'm against employers holding employees accountable for personal writings, but in this case it's not really a personal writing so much as a violation of the students right to privacy and a general violation of professional ethics.

        I've spent a lot of time personally undoing the damage that poor instruction has caused, and that was more legitimate lack of training without malice. Something like this could definitely haunt the students for years and possibly the rest of their lives. And no, I'm not exaggerating, a surprising number of late diagnosed "learning disorders" aren't really anxiety driven rather than whatever the diagnosis was.

      • Re:Not an YRO (Score:5, Insightful)

        by melchoir55 (218842) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @04:33PM (#35165996)

        Teaching kids is not about getting something from the kids. It isn't about mutual respect. It isn't about them asking "how high" when you say "jump". It isn't about having kids revere you as their mentor.

        Teaching kids is about *helping the kids*. If they are great at algebra, then teach them polynomials. If they can barely handle addition, teach them addition. If they can barely pay attention to addition, work on getting them to pay attention/have self confidence/etc. Someone with the attitude of this teacher (or yours) is certainly not doing this. She deserves a suspension. Her attitude betrays a point of view toxic to pedagogy. In a perfect world where she could easily find work elsewhere and where the school could easily replace her then she should be asked to leave. Hopefully she takes her suspension as a wake up call. I doubt it, but we can hope.

        • Re:Not an YRO (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MrSenile (759314) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @05:09PM (#35166598)
          Actually, you made good points, let's break them down.

          Teaching kids is about *helping the kids*.

          How is the 'no kid left behind' doctrine helping kids? How is dumbing down the curriculum to help the under achiever helping the brilliant student?

          If they are great at algebra, then teach them polynomials. If they can barely handle addition, teach them addition.

          And here we have the crux of the problem with education in the United States. Teachers are unable to individually teach students, and thus, those that shine in their area of expertise suffer for those who are average. In fact, some school systems enforce average teaching because singling out students tend to get the teacher in question in trouble with the school boards.

          If they can barely pay attention to addition, work on getting them to pay attention/have self confidence/etc.

          And how does one enforce this? Spanking no longer is an option. Sending to the principles office? Most kids causing the problems really don't care if they're in trouble because they know the school system can't do -anything- to them if their parents don't care either, which is most always the case for troubled youth to begin with. Teachers can't do anything when the legal system and government and school boards take their power away to help them.

          Someone with the attitude of this teacher (or yours) is certainly not doing this. She deserves a suspension.

          Then you should suspend all teachers. I guarentee you that every single teacher out there, good or not, have felt this at least once. They vent to family, friends, and each other all the time. The only mistake this teacher did was to vent on a public forum where it was visible when she probably should have kept it private.

          Her attitude betrays a point of view toxic to pedagogy.

          Point your finger to the Government system that have ham-strung our education system. The teachers are as much a product of it as the piss-poor education our children are suffering through. She's a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself.

          Hopefully she takes her suspension as a wake up call. I doubt it, but we can hope.

          Why should she? She will likely do the exact same thing that students under her do who also cause problems. Not a damn thing. Why? Because it won't matter. Why care when no one else does. You've shown what the majority of people think already. You never once considered her view point. Why she felt the way she did. Why she felt she needed to vent. You automatically accused her because... why? The children could do no wrong?

          Smell reality sometime. It's different than the fiction you're sniffing.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Exactly! I had a truly wonderful tutor for HS (eating pavement at 60MPH+ tends to tear up one somewhat) and she told me flat footed "I'm going to concentrate on math because honestly you and flowery prose don't mix" and she was absolutely right, I hated comp and strictly was a "noun verb noun" kind of guy, whereas I excelled at math and science.

          Of course I thought it hilarious when at my year end test out one of the teachers accused me of cheating on the English portion because I used words so far above my

    • Re:Not an YRO (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DurendalMac (736637) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @04:23PM (#35165836)
      THIS. I anticipate a lot of kneejerking posts in this thread, but come on, she deserved it. When you continuously insult and degrade your students publicly, whether it's in person or online, don't be surprised when the school fires your ass, and for good reason.

      I have a friend who teaches in high school. He comments about his students and their silliness from time to time on Facebook, but nothing even remotely like this. He has sense enough to do it very tactfully and in ways that are not degrading.
      • Re:Not an YRO (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Xaositecte (897197) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @04:30PM (#35165944) Journal

        I agree with you completely, I've got a few teacher friends who say similar things to what this woman said in the article. But, they say it privately, usually over drinks with non-associated friends, and they're well aware that saying them in public would get them fired.

        Teaching kids is frustrating, and people need to vent sometimes. The only thing to remember is, if you need to work with people you're venting about, don't vent where they can hear you!

      • Would you say the same thing if it was a student suspended for off-campus speach about his teachers? It seems Slashdot has a problem with punishing the students for this kind of behavior, and I don't see anything that would negate that principle here.

        THIS. I anticipate a lot of kneejerking posts in this thread, but come on, she deserved it. When you continuously insult and degrade your teachers publicly, whether it's in person or online, don't be surprised when the school suspends your ass, and for good reason.

        • Re:Not an YRO (Score:4, Insightful)

          by MayonakaHa (562348) <mayonakaha@gmaiLISPl.com minus language> on Thursday February 10, 2011 @04:39PM (#35166098) Journal
          Students are neither paid to teach people and assist in the development of their minds nor are they given a choice for what they do in life at this point. Teachers are expected to lead their charges in the right direction and have made the choice to be a teacher in the first place.
          • Re:Not an YRO (Score:4, Insightful)

            by JackOfAllGeeks (1034454) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @06:19PM (#35167724)

            Teachers are expected to lead their charges in the right direction and have made the choice to be a teacher in the first place.

            And if a teacher is doing that when acting in her position at school, I don't see a problem with her holding or expressing negative opinions outside of school. Writing in her blog is not the same as neglecting or mistreating her students. Just as I can work with co-workers I don't like or respect, I'm sure she's capable of instructing people she doesn't like or respect.

        • by Byzantine (85549)

          Would you say the same thing if it was a student suspended for off-campus speach about his teachers? It seems Slashdot has a problem with punishing the students for this kind of behavior, and I don't see anything that would negate that principle here.

          You mean besides the fact that they're minors and not held to the same standard as adults?

      • Re:Not an YRO (Score:5, Insightful)

        by brainboyz (114458) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @05:24PM (#35166836) Homepage

        I disagree. Some of my BEST teachers (based on the measure of how much I learned/gained from a class) had no problem calling a student out in front of the WHOLE class with a cuttingly honest remark. Why? Because they would point out the faults and pressure you to work towards fixing them. Sure, there was a student here or there that merely gave up in the class after such remarks, but those were the same students that put no effort in elsewhere either. On the flip side, these same teachers gave out praise for exemplary work, and you can bet when you got it you felt great.

        At this point, too many students are coddled when they need to be slapped up-side the head with reality. Lazy, disrespectful, and borderline criminal students need not be told it's "okay" but rather need to be told to shape up. Too many are coming out of school expecting things to be handed to them, or to "pass" with minimum effort.

        • Re:Not an YRO (Score:4, Insightful)

          by MrTester (860336) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @06:56PM (#35168170)

          I agree with everything you said, but it has nothing to do with this situation.

          There is a big difference between calling a students failings out in the class room vs any public forum, electronic or otherwise.

          And I would also expect a teacher who says "I hate your kid" to get fired no matter what the forum.

        • Re:Not an YRO (Score:4, Insightful)

          by sjames (1099) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @06:57PM (#35168184) Homepage

          You're talking about constructive criticism. It does have it's place. TFA is about a teacher writing snarky comments (that seemed to be mostly name calling rather than constructive) in her blog where they wouldn't likely do the students any good.

        • Re:Not an YRO (Score:4, Insightful)

          by DurendalMac (736637) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @11:05PM (#35170132)
          There's a difference between saying, "Your performance is subpar. You really need to pick up the slack" and "You're a rat-like, miserable little shit". There's a big difference between being cuttingly honest and just dickheaded.
        • 1. dishing out of public humiliation is not in a teacher's job description.it's not her choice or prerogative.
          2. her comments were not constructive.
          3. her comments were subjective ("rat-like", "dim", "i hate ...")

    • The problem is most Slashdotters were hailing as "free speech" the Facebook thing where someone decided an employer couldn't fire an employee for blatantly badmouthing him on Faceboook.

      So which is it?

      • by jIyajbe (662197)

        So which is it?

        Neither. She was not complaining about her employer, so it is a false comparison./p>

        The closest I think you could come to it is that she was complaining about her working conditions. Not the same thing.

      • by QuincyDurant (943157) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @05:48PM (#35167266)

        They have no right to a union, no right to speak, no right to demand respect from students. Everybody except teachers knows exactly how to teach just as those who use computers or cars know everything there is about how to design and build them. Education is a mess because of worthless, lowlife teachers and despite the heroic efforts of principals, administrators, parents, taxpayers, and former students. All the smart people on Slashdot taught themselves everything they know, and, as former students, are experts not only at being students but also on being teachers. Teachers should be fed to the hogs, or better still, the students. Just imagine how much money it would save if students taught themselves and ate ground teacher instead of tax-payer supported lunchmeat.

        I don't work for a school district, or, of course, I would be suspended and muzzled for this post. Quite right, too.

    • Re:Not an YRO (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @04:27PM (#35165910) Journal

      I would want to be taught by someone who is honest. If a dimwitted student is holding back the rest of the class, I want the teachers empowered to say so and do something about it. In my experience, the more patronizing a teacher, the less effective he or she is.

      • by pclminion (145572)

        If a dimwitted student is holding back the rest of the class, I want the teachers empowered to say so and do something about it.

        There are ways to do that that don't involve ridiculing the "dimwitted" students. This isn't about protecting the self-images of precious little snowflakes, it's about basic human decency and the fact that it's fucking rude to talk about people that way, children or otherwise, especially in a public forum.

        It's not the idea she communicated that got her fired, it's the unprofessio

        • There are ways to do that that don't involve ridiculing the "dimwitted" students.

          Not since grades of B and lower were abolished.

      • Re:Not an YRO (Score:5, Insightful)

        by smcn (87571) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @04:59PM (#35166430)

        A teacher's obligation is to help her students learn, is it not? An appropriate response to a student "holding back the rest of the class" is to confer with the parent and recommend alternatives, not complain about it on a publicly accessible blog. Honesty does not require being an asshole.

    • Re:Not an YRO (Score:4, Interesting)

      by eln (21727) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @04:32PM (#35165980) Homepage
      I don't think her ability to teach is compromised, but her ability to play the politics necessary to educate kids while keeping their parents happy definitely is. She actually got off light. One of my kids' old elementary teachers got fired on the spot for having a blog about her kids, and she wasn't saying anything nearly so mean about them. She had just been awarded the district's teacher of the year award the year before, too. Combine privacy concerns with angry parents, and you can pretty much pack your bags.

      That said, I can sort of understand why she was doing it. I've known lots of teachers, and they almost universally say the worst part about teaching is dealing with the parents. Some parents try to micromanage the teachers, others won't ever show any interest in their kids' education at all no matter how hard the teacher tries. Plus, kids come in with a variety of emotional, mental, and/or developmental problems that many times the parents simply refuse to acknowledge.

      All of this, along with the daily frustrations of shrinking budgets, increasing numbers of kids per classroom, and administrations that don't seem to care about anything but their own political ambitions, means most teachers really need a place to vent. Sometimes they bitch to each other, but schools can be nasty gossip factories, so it doesn't pay to do that too much. Sometimes you see your kid's second grade teacher in a bar. Sometimes, especially recently, they vent on blogs. The problem is, they don't anonymize themselves or the stories they tell sufficiently (or in this case, not at all), someone who has an axe to grind with them anyway (such as a parent) finds out about it, and it's all downhill from there.
    • Personally, as long as the teacher didn't give specific names I don't think it's a big deal.

      My mother used to be a teacher and one of my cousins is a teacher, and they will openly talk about how bad or stupid their students act. There shouldn't be anything wrong with publicly saying bad things about your students in general.

      And although I'm in my late 20s, I can clearly remember how me and my classmates would act in our classes. There was little respect for the teacher, and seeing some of the things written

    • Re:Not an YRO (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Space cowboy (13680) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @04:44PM (#35166188) Journal

      Does anyone want to be taught by someone who feels nothing but contempt for them?

      I had teachers who regularly called students (me included) "stupid bastard", and that wasn't by any means the worst of it. Never did me any harm - in fact the teacher who was polite and formal all the time was the universally despised one - nicknamed "Timmy!". His kid went to the same school, and was thrown out of a second-storey window because his father was such a pratt. Not defending that, I think it's reprehensible, but it happened.

      I had a Spanish teacher (Geoffrey Park) who used to throw a padlock at kids who weren't paying attention, a maths teacher who threw chalk (he was far more accurate...) and it was all fine. I remember getting my own back at the kids-v-teachers football match by starting a chant "Geoffrey Park, super-star!, walks like a woman and he wears a bra". All in fun, and I didn't expect (or get) any comeback in class later.

      Of course, I went to school in the UK, in a northern town, and it was far-and-away rougher than the US (at least in CA where I live). No guns or knives (considered the tools of cowards, where I'm from), but it was easy to come home bruised every single day for a year or so, with occasional visits to hospital.

      Sometimes the comparison between my school-life and the "issues" and "problems" facing todays youth seems very amusing ...

      Of course, it wasn't all bad. I had teachers who shot down thrown paper airplanes with the fire-extinguisher, or who came out to the pub with us for a drink after driving us to 'Bridge night' (I was in the school bridge team, and yes, we were under-age :). We dissected things (bulls eye, frog, ...) from age-11 onwards; I took an explosives option in Chemistry, used woodworking and metalworking power tools from age 12, etc. etc. Basically they treated us as young adults, and expected us to behave the same. Part of that is coping with being told you're a stupid bastard. Because, sometimes, everyone is (the stupid part - the bastard part is just to drive home the stupid part...)

      Simon

      • by Drgnkght (449916)

        Basically they treated us as young adults, and expected us to behave the same.

        I think you've hit the exact problem with schools in the U.S. and most likely elsewhere. This simply isn't true anymore and I think we're all the worse for it.

    • by xero314 (722674)

      Clearly, if she's posting this kind of stuff, her ability to teach those kids she refers to as idiots and rats is compromised.

      And you know this how? If there is no proof of any lack of ability on her part then this should have no barring on her employment. People often go home and complain about their clients, yet still do damn good job for them.

      Does anyone want to be taught by someone who feels nothing but contempt for them?

      I don't care how someone feels about me as long as they are doing there job. In this case no one cares what the teacher thinks, just what they post online.

  • Link to the blog and/or archived copy?

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @04:24PM (#35165860)
    Kids have a way of living up to people's expectations. She expects these kids to act like animals, and they're fulfilling her expectations. I'd expect teachers to vent to each other about the students (and parents) they have to deal with, but venting in an online forum displays terrible judgement.

    My mother works as a substitute teacher. She takes troubled kids that every else badmouths, treats them with respect, and gets them to open up, stop being disruptive, and actually start learning. If a teacher is having problems with kids, it is as much an indictment of the teacher as it is of the kids.
    • Exactly. Several of my friends are teachers and one is a teacher of first & second grade. She invariably ends up with all the special needs children because she's the only one willing or able to take the time and treat them with the respect and care they need to behave well in school. She works miracles with kids that other people would write off and leave in a corner to stagnate.
    • by mgblst (80109)

      What a load of bullshit. Oh yeah, your miracle mum is all these kids need.

      I have seen teachers like that, they are very liberal with what they describe as learning.

      And so she wastes a lot of her time on these trouble students, where as students who are willing to learn and not be disruptive are ignored and set long tasks, rather than helped.

      You are the worst sort of parent, yes, it is all the teachers fault, there are no bad kids. I am not even a teacher, and fuckheads like you are just too dumb to educate

  • by DurendalMac (736637) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @04:25PM (#35165874)
    Anyone got a link to a cached copy of it? I'm interested in seeing just what was written.
  • Pot, meet Kettle (Score:3, Insightful)

    by asdbffg (1902686) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @04:27PM (#35165908)
    "Frightfully dim," indeed.
  • by Aerynvala (1109505) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @04:29PM (#35165938) Homepage
    I get hating your job, I get finding the students to be morons and unteachable, but to post about it in a way that you could be identified? Idiot.
  • Insulting children in a public forum causes parents to complain and get the teacher in trouble. In related news, the new model of ship, the trireme is entering production.

  • I went to school in the UK in the 70s and early 80s. The only difference between then and now is that in those days the teachers used to say it to your face.

  • What she says may or may not be true. However, if your lawyer, your doctor, your martial arts instructor posted crap like this, how long do you think they would stay in business? Kids attending a public school don't have the option of shopping around.
    • by Millennium (2451)

      This. While the teacher is certainly entitled to her own opinions, and even to speak privately about them with uninvolved parties, posting things like this publicly is a gross breach of professionalism. The teacher/student relationship doesn't really have anything to do with it; the same would apply between bosses and workers, professionals of other types and their clients, or even coworkers in a business setting.

      Or, to put it another way: I have no sympathy for those with no discretion.

  • by dosius (230542) <bridget@buric.co> on Thursday February 10, 2011 @04:36PM (#35166066) Journal

    "All things are legal to me, but not all things are conducive. All things are legal to me, but not all things are constructive."

    Think about what you do before you do it, what potential ramifications it may have. Just because you CAN do it doesn't mean you SHOULD. And remember: anything you say on a publicly accessible Web site is publicly accessible (it should go without saying).

    -uso.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      "Drink ye then not water, but take thee a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine other infirmaties," 1 Timothy 5:23

      See, I can quote the bible too!
  • No sympathy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Locke2005 (849178)
    I criticized my child's teacher for her blatant discrimination against my daughter; she had her teachers' union lawyer threaten me with a libel suit and the school district told me I was no longer allowed to communicate with any school district staff. The next year, I complained because her new teacher gave every other child in the class the choice to sit in a chair, but insisted my daughter sit on a blue "X" on the floor, again a violation of state educational discrimination statutes. The school's response
  • There have been many many articles over the years about a major problem in our schools where kids just get shuffled through the system, without issues being addressed, because teachers are afraid of backlash from p parents and administrators when they want to hold a kid back a grade or put them in a remedial program, or TEACH THEM HOW TO READ at the level they are supposed to be at. Also everyone always complains about how teachers are so "bad". So when a teacher decides to take it upon themselves to call o
    • by ScentCone (795499)

      TEACH THEM HOW TO READ at the level they are supposed to be at

      *you have been killed by irony*

      Try Again? [y/n]

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @04:52PM (#35166306)

    Barring that, I want them to at least have wisdom and common sense. This lady, by writing what she did, is obviously neither wise enough nor smart enough to have figured out that it was a stupid thing to do. That puts her on par with those teenagers that post public pictures of themselves french-kissing a shoe while drunk.

  • by JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @04:54PM (#35166344)
    ...that's sadly still no excuse. My cousin recently became a teacher, and had to delete pretty much his entire online identity (or at least, the ones the school system knows about, like facebook, twitter, myspace, etc), as the school had warned him that stuff like this can and will happen, and they would rather avoid it.
  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @04:56PM (#35166382) Homepage Journal
    Dear Ms. Munroe,

    Okay. I get it. Parents should take an active role in educating their children. That makes sense Ms. Munroe.

    But you are also responsible for those students' educations to some extent. If they are frightfully dim, less intelligent than they appear, and so on, isn't it sort of your job to help them with that? So they suck at abstract reasoning? Teach them how to reason better. So they can't do well in mathematics? Find a better way to teach mathematics. So they are petty and dramatic? Well they are only kids, at least they have that excuse. You, however, are supposed to be a responsible adult. Insulting children on the internet is just a bit petty don't you think? Maybe they are simply learning from example.

    Of course, you can only do so much. And I can understand how that could be frustrating. However, the rest of us professionals have to deal with frustrating shit in our jobs every day as well. The difference is, we don't necessarily go home to insult our coworkers on the internet after a bad day. So, yes, children should be smarter. Rather than bitch about that, how's about you do your damned job and help them along that path?

    Sincerely,
    An Adult

    If anything, it sounds like Ms. Munroe was insulting her own teaching abilities more than anything.
  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @05:02PM (#35166476)

    What exactly is wrong with calling lazy, sneaky, rude teenagers "lazy", "sneaky" and "rude"?

  • by Ynsats (922697) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @05:26PM (#35166864)

    There is so much awesomeness and win in that story that I'm going to go to Doylestown, PA and protest her suspension and demand her immediate promotion to Supernintendo Chalmers!

  • by Laxori666 (748529) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @05:32PM (#35166986) Homepage
    Link! [googleusercontent.com] .

    I don't know about you but her comments are pretty funny. True though, it's probably not the best thing to blog about as a teacher. The students' comments were pretty great.
  • What I find remarkable is that so many parents got upset its like they picked on and noticed her comment matched their kid. You would would think most parents would just wonder who the heck she was talking about and assume it wasnt their child.

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