What a Maroon ~ Bugs Bunny
written by John:
Your comments about this column are welcome ~ e-mail John at
A word about teachers and in particular the person who has recently made waves in the news because of negative comments she made about her students in her internet blog.
I want to make something clear before we get started. At the very beginning of every school year on "Open House" night, where I normally meet five different sets of parents per class (from an average class size of 30, give or take a few students), I explain to parents that I don't know what other teachers tell them, but I'm there to serve their children. I say this loud and clear and then I repeat it to them so it will sink in. It is their sons and daughters I serve and who I am in the classroom for. Not for them, not for my administrators, not for the administrators administrators, nor for the state department of education. I say this unconditionally.
Yes, I have many duties other than teaching (way too many I think) yet, I manage those responsibilities without letting them get in the way of my primary objective, which is to hook my students on education and the wonder of life-long learning. In every class of visiting parents on that auspicious occasion, I invite all of them to come and join me in my classroom anytime they choose; before, after, or during class, my door is always open.
I first heard about the teacher in question from a former colleague of mine who I met on a trip to Japan. We were participants of the Japanese Fulbright Memorial Fund Teachers Fellowship (JFMF), which provided members of a select group of teachers, (one or two from every state across America), to be honored as guest scholars by the Japanese government. We would experience an immersion into Japanese society to learn about its government, culture, and educational institutions. Our culminating activity would include delegates hosted for a weeks stay with a Japanese family. I digress.
My friend alerted me via Facebook to check out an English teacher who was suspended from her job because of a blog she writes. Students who discovered her blog took it to the school administration. His post almost sounded as if we (teachers?) should rally to support this woman; perhaps she may be fired for the mess she perpetrated. I needed more information. I researched the news about her story and watched a television interview with her. Her lawyer was at her side during the taping.
I've come to the conclusion that she is going to fight, what I consider her wrongdoing with a claim defining the rights to freedom of speech. She, like the children she berates, appears to me as failing to take responsibility for her actions.
In her blog, she claimed, "my students are out of control". She went on, "they are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners who curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are generally just annoying". To this I say, "So what?" Most of us know this is the norm, that these types of descriptions are applied to every new generation of young people.
Obviously, this teacher needs a few life lessons herself, beginning with a professional development workshop in classroom management. This basic tenet allows both teacher and student a smoother transition into the classroom, whereby all paradigms and rules are brought to light and set into place. These are also professional teaching strategies, skills we must learn about and put into practice if we don't want problems with those students she claims are the problem. In her television interview she said her words were taken out of context, that she was commenting to friends about what she might say to parents in a hypothetical evaluation report about her students. "I called out sick just to avoid your son", and "just as bad as his sibling. Don't you know how to raise kids?" Even if we teachers think such things about our students and their parents, we should know better than to voice such thoughts. We might get into trouble.
A rather startling disclosure came up from one of her made-up comments to parents that stated, "I hate your child." Wait a minute here. We all have internal conflicts, one way or another, with those who we associate in the workplace, but we should avoid taking such interaction as personal. When it gets bad for me, I vent to my wife in the privacy of my own home, not on the internet.
She also claimed that she didn't fully identify herself, or name the school, or the students. When the interviewer asked her how she would react if a teacher told her she hated her child, she responded that "my blog wasn't meant for everybody to see." She insists her internet blog to be a private conversation within her family, friends and associates. Meant to be private? A blog on the internet meant to be private? Those words are out there forever. If anyone should understand this about how our contemporary society communicates, it should be an English teacher.
Personally, I think she is in the wrong business. Yes, you have the right to say what you want under the protection of freedom of speech. Just remember when you use that right to tell your boss, "Eff you!", your boss's same freedom allows him to say, "You're fired!"
founded 2004 by ron cruger
A place for intelligent writers
A place for intelligent readers