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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bloggate - Part 2: A Surreal Week

I think it is safe to say that this has been the most shocking, unexpected week of my life. To say it's all been surreal would be an understatement.

Just over a week ago I was creating study guides for Oedipus at Colonus, packing lunches for school, and working in the classroom each day. This week, though, I've been the guest on television programs I usually WATCH on television, have given interviews to news agencies that I usually read or listen to, and have received hundreds upon hundreds of emails from people I've never met before, many of whom have been expressing support and encouragement. (Thanks for that, by the way!)

This situation has in all ways changed my life. I'm very routine-oriented. Change, as a rule, scares the beejesus out of me (I used to get mad at my parents if they decided to move the Christmas tree from centered in front of the window to the corner of the room.) So for this degree of change to come at me from all sides--so quickly and unexpectedly--it's been quite an adjustment. And it hasn't just affected me; my family has been going through it, too. Our appetites, health, ability to sleep, and stress levels have all been affected. On the second day, we were so concerned that I made an appointment with my OB to make sure my baby is ok in there; thankfully, she is.

Some negative blog posts have accused me of loving the media attention. Um, sorry to disappoint, but this is not the stuff that dreams are made of (at least, not my dreams; if it was, then I would have gone into news instead of teaching). I was actually on Regis and Kelly when I was 20--I had an ambush makeover. While it was still nerve wracking being on camera, it was exciting and fun and I got a really cute outfit and hairdo out of the deal. This news stuff, though, is very stressful, and is quite a process. (Interesting fact: it takes longer to apply the makeup then it does to do an interview.)

I've been to New York City 3 times in 3 days; today I went to Philadelphia for some satellite stuff. I've been on Justice with Judge Jeanine, Fox and Friends, CBS 3, 6 ABC, NBC 10, Good Morning America, CNN, WFMZ 69. I've talked on radio programs in Toronto, San Francisco, London (the BBC), and Philadelphia 1210. I've sat with reporters from the Intelligencer, the Inquirer, the NY Post, Time magazine, Reuters, and the Associated Press.

I went from being completely unknown to being a cartoon and an allusion; I've even been compared to Sue Sylvester of Glee (as a fan of Glee, I was amused by this comparison and was also heartened to see that she was rated as having the meaner insults by the online polls.)

I've been called "mean" and "unprofessional," but have also been called an "education icon" and a "hero." I even garnered a 97% approval rating on an MSNBC poll--wowsa!

These are not the sorts of things that happen to me on a regular basis. To put it in perspective, a normal day for me involves work, having dinner with my family, and watching General Hospital on my DVR each night. (As it were, I'm now 4 episodes behind as I haven't been able to watch this week since I've been so busy trying to put this blogging scandal into some context and start important conversations about our education system. These matters are obviously more important, but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that this is the week that things with the Balkan were supposed to come to a head and Sonny and Brenda are supposed to be getting married, so it's an important week of the show, too!) So, for me, these past 7 days have been the farthest thing from normal.

What is remarkable, though, is that somewhere along the past few days, the focus has shifted a bit from the blog itself and onto the education debate. While I certainly never--not in a million years--thought I'd be so near the center of this conversation, I'm glad it's a conversation that's happening.

There is a lot that people don't realize about the state of education and the work of teachers.

First off, teachers are highly trained professionals, but are not always regarded as such. Ever hear that old (terrible!) gem, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach" ? Yeah? Well, that's highly insulting and, if you think about it, completely absurd. To teach a concept, one needs to be an expert on it so one can break it into parts to make it more understandable and offer the support that's needed to help others grasp it, too. So really, those who CAN, teach! This negative attitude toward teachers is part of the base issue.

People--parents, students, administration, the general public, government officials--need to trust in their highly trained professional teachers. PA public school teachers (and I know this varies by state and, in some cases, by district if there's some emergency need of teachers) generally have the following training:

First, they need a bachelor's degree and must complete (and pay to complete, I might add) an unpaid internship for 4-6 months (the student teaching experience which is on-the-job training in the way of an apprenticeship). Then they earn their Level 1 Temporary certification. Then, they have 6 years to earn their Level 2 Permanent certification, which one achieves after actively working for that time, earning a Master's degree, and having 6 satisfactory observations within one's school. In addition, every 5 years, teachers need to complete additional training (Act 48) to stay current with their certification. That means that teachers are continually trained and educated throughout their time teaching, in an effort to keep them up to date with the latest educational research models and other relevant (and sometimes even irrelevant!) training.

And yet, with all of that specialized training, people second-guess and blame teachers for so many of the problems that exist in education today. Do we go to our doctors and lawyers and tell them how to do their jobs, and second-guess everything they do? Do we stand alongside chefs at restaurants and tell them we think the boulliabaisse looks like it needs some more saffron? No. We trust them to do what they've been trained to do. Of course it's ok to ask questions along the way so we can know why something is happening or understand the process--but at the end of the day, some trust needs to come into play, too. Let's let teachers do their jobs.

Second, there's often a misconception about the work that teachers do on the day-to-day. Some people think that teachers make up one lesson and teach it that way for 25 years. Teaching, though, is not a one-and-done situation. Not only do teachers have to create lessons, they need to modify them to meet the needs of different students with different abilities, aptitudes, learning styles, and the like. In my experience, I've had 3 sections of the same class. Even if I'm teaching the same material, the lesson always changes for each class. Sometimes it's drastic changes--parts are cut, emphasized more, approached differently, for instance--and sometimes it's subtle changes--more examples are provided, more time is allowed to complete a task, the product expectations are different--but there's always some change.

I think that part of the angst toward teachers stems from the fact that we've all had a bad teacher along the way. Yes, of course they exist. But people who are inept in their fields exist in all fields. One or two bad eggs along the way doesn't mean the whole lot of teachers are ineffectual. I also think part of the resentment comes from the summers-off end of things. Trust me when I say this: A. Teachers more than do the work of 12 months in the 10 official months they work, and B. Most teachers work through the summers preparing for the next school year (or even have second jobs in the summer to supplement their incomes.) With many jobs, when you punch out, you go home and the job is done until the next day at punch-in time. The job can be left at the job site. But with teaching, the job is almost never done. Many teachers bring home stacks of work each night and on weekends and over breaks and on vacations, and stay at work long after the sun has gone down. This work is unseen and unknown and, often, not even considered to exist. It becomes even more galling to be accused of being in a "coddled" profession when you know how hard you work but others think you're some lazy slacker. Most teachers aren't seeking an award or applause for this extra work, but would happily settle for some simple respect that they are professionals.

This considered lack of respect for teachers as professionals translates into power being given to students and their parents, and a lack of teacher support from those same people and administration.

I'll cover that topic in my next post.

Until then...


  1. Thank you for this post. I have only recently become aware of your situation and the circumstances surrounding it. I have been teaching for over a decade and I am increasingly frustrated by the total lack of respect for teachers. We are held to one standard but there seems to be no standards and no consequences for students.

    I wish you the best and support you. Thank you for speaking out regarding these issues.

  2. This situation should be a wake up call for this whole country. The generation of kids to day for the most part need an intervention. I shudder to imagine the world in a few years.

    I know there are good kids, but I also know, we need work in all areas of schooling. Parents should step up and demand something better for their kids, and demand more from their own kids. Parents need to stop and take the time to check up on their "little angels"....I think they would be surprised.

    Try to rest, this mess is not worth your health. Praying for peace for really are a icon to admire to move forward!

  3. Natalie, I applaud you!!!!! I have a three children. A college student who is studying to be a high school math teacher, a high school senior and junior (one public, one private school). I am a very "involved" mom and could not agree with you more! Students today are all you say and more. My junior (at Phoenixville Area High School), whom was the target of the news last week)will tell you himself how rude and lazy his peers are. Who are we to blame I ask??? First and foremost, the parents. Second (I believe) the teachers union. Teachers who excel (SUCH AS YOURSELF) should be rewarded and teachers who (excuse my french) suck should be removed!!!! Keep your head up!!! There are people in this world who accept things and then there are people like you!!!! I am proud of you!!! A mom in support! ps.. My sisters kids recently graduated from CB East!!!

  4. I totally admire what you are doing. I feel with your situation at hand that it is problematic that "they" are more concerned with your voice, than than the things you are voicing. Drugs, cussing, lack of accountability, etc, are the problems at hand here. The public should be outraged at the problems in the classroom faced on a weekly basis. If those problems didn't exist, this predicament wouldn't either.

    Jackie Murphy (your old writing teacher)

  6. Just coming across your blog to give my support. I teach English to elementary school students in Japan and just had a really frustrating day with a 3rd grade class that didn't want to cooperate (well, they NEVER want to cooperate). It made me think of your situation which a friend had tweeted about this morning. I know little kids are different from high school students, but I really feel you on the difficulty of dealing with students who lack motivation and discipline. I wish you the best and I'm sorry that you were suspended for something as silly as this. High school students are not vulnerable babies and shouldn't be treated as such. Teachers in America deserve more respect!

  7. Thank you for shining a light on not only our profession and how it's viewed, but also how parents need to start taking some initiative with their kids. We are not supposed to raise your kids, YOU ARE. We are here to teach them and help guide them through their academics.

    Again, thank you. You seem to have become a martyr for the teaching profession. Good luck to you.

  8. Well said. I completely agree that many people blame teachers for many problems that exist in the educational field. It is sad that we can not be looked at as professionals and that we worked just as hard (if not harder) than many other professionals. I wish you the best along your journey.

  9. I completely understand your battle. It seems that there is no accountability with some of the students we teach and their parents can't accept that their child could have possibly done something wrong. I'm guessing one of your students was mad at you and together with their parents decided they would try to getyou in trouble. Little did they know this would simply help you spread your word!!

    Go get em

  10. Came across the story from Just an observation...

    Humility and discretion come with maturity.

    Why not simply stop posting anything until your situation is resolved? You say you couldn't have imagined the fallout, yet you continue to post... fanning the flame of agreement or dissent with your situation.

    What you receive, good or bad, is entirely on you. You have no one to blame but yourself for thinking that you have a right to post whatever you want, without repercussions. As a teacher, you should know better.

    Nothing comes without consequences.

    Yes, you have a right... but just because you can doesn't mean you should.

    Discretion is the better part of valor. That is a quote that has been lost on a generation of people, scholars and students alike.

    Take the high road... post nothing, so your detractors have nothing to use against you. Show your students that you have the maturity and discipline NOT to post.

  11. As a fellow teacher I totally understand what you are saying, and I support you, and hope that this will make people look at education in a new way. And look at another area, what happens when they leave the building, who should be taking charge of their education at that point? The parents need to take some responsibility, let's get some legislation on that side.

  12. It's clear that teachers have been given a bad rap and the good ones are being overshadowed by the bad ones. Unfortunately, I live in an area that doesn't seem to attract the very good ones and the good ones we have either retire or move on to better employment. This leaves us with the disillusioned ones who didn't realize that teaching would require as much work as you've indicated. My husband and I have discovered that if we remain active in our child's educational process and have regular conversations with our teachers about our child's progress outside of conference time, we can help our children get the education that all children deserve.

    We have had the misfortune of working with a teacher who we, along with our son who has Asperger's, did not work well with. After suggesting that we remove him from his IEP, which we disagreed with and refused to do, we were discouraged to get his PSSA scores for that year. He had gone down so much that we feared that his IEP would have to be reevaluated. His next teacher was amazing and she would call us from home with new ideas about how to reach our son. That was serious dedication. I received his PSSA scores from last school year at his conference in October. I thought the teacher had handed me the wrong results. Our son had shattered all the goals we set and excelled in all areas. I literally started crying as his new teacher watched. I could see a light in the end of the frustrating tunnel and a dedicated, talented teacher held the light for us to head to.

    His teacher this year is tough but amazing. He's learning so much more than he did with that horrible teacher. The progress our son is making is a result of hard work on his part, diligence on our part, and hours beyond hours of research, planning, coaching, working and testing by a shining example of what qualified, dedicated educators really do. I know you guys work insane hours and give up time with your families to prepare to teach children who, honestly, will never truly appreciate your efforts.

    More support needs to be given to you all and speaking as a mother of three school age children and one that will be heading to school in a few years, it has to come soon to keep the good ones like you in the classroom. As for all the press, it will fade in time, but your message will carry on. Some people want to make you out to be a joke, put the fact is, your message isn't funny. People are starting to see that and your support is growing every day. Hopefully you'll be back in the classroom doing what you love and what those children need and the lynch mob will find an email from an ice cream delivery man that is a bit too saucy. Good luck!

  13. Well put, Natalie! Because it is SO much work -this I know (I was an art ed major at my college and have done the student teaching thing - even taught for 2 days in the Phila. School District) - I have put off looking for a teaching job. I don't know if I'm ready to "kill myself" preparing lessons, teaching lessons, modifying lessons, etc. so that parents can criticize me and students can unappreciate me. Sigh. This is why I play the Powerball every week.

  14. 1st - Yes, I do question doctors, lawyers & chefs if they are doing something that completely goes against my values & common sense, you'd be a fool not to.
    2nd - The issue at hand is NOT whether you get respect as a teacher or if the kids at school are 'good'....the issue is you publicly slandered young impressionable school children along with administration & co-workers. You have every right to do also should deal with the repercussions just as any other employee would. This has been blown way out of proportion.
    3rd - Based on the age of your child(ren) somehow I can't believe you are an expert on raising kids. I wish you well in raising perfect & beyond reproach children. You're off to a great start.

  15. Excellent, Natalie. It sounds to me as though you are handling this situation quite well. I wish you the best. Peace, Michael

  16. AMEN!!!

    But people don't listen and people don't care because it's so much more convenient to have a scapegoat than to take any real personal responsibility.

    But you knew that already.

  17. Thanks, Natalie, for laying out the whole professional training thing. I was laid off from a non-education job in 2004 and at the age of 54 had already begun to train to be an ESL teacher, obtaining my TESOL Certificate (2 years of night classes plus a practicum) by 2001 and doing volunteer literacy/ESL tutoring for 3 years. I looked into getting a Teaching Credential or doing an MA in Education but decided that the cost and stress were not worth it at my age. I did do substitute teaching and got a good perspective of the current state of American public schools. I really am in awe of career teachers (most who are very good) and am happy that pensions are in place as part of their deferred compensation because the salaries are inferior to the education required -- teachers do it as a career because they love teaching children and think it is an important job! Public schools have become difficult if not dangerous places to work, but I do not think that teachers are the cause of that. Yes, there are high profile criminal cases of teachers sexually abusing students (just as there have been in churches, youth organizations, and sports), but they are the rare exception, not the norm. I suspect more teachers have been physically and sexually abused and threatened by students than the other way around. The problem is that this very wealthy country has become very complacent about raising the next generation, and for the past 50 years, we have become such a "me first" culture and have felt "entitled" to a great life without taking personal responsibilty to provide it. Yes, teenagers have always been confronted with becoming adults while still having the inexperience and self-centeredness of being a child. But things are worse today in that a lot of homes are parented by a single parent, the child has little family support as the extended family safety net is gone, and family substance abuse, poverty, and criminal behavior is quite common now. Our students come to school with few expectations of school, but with a huge sense of personal entitlement and self-involvement. The bullying, gang activity, exposure to sexual expoitation and substance abuse that exist in schools today far dwarf the perceived pain of social "clics" and social inequities of previous generations of school children. Into this mess go teachers, trying to provide critical skills to our next generation. Somehow we need society to value public education, we need parents to back up teachers rather than being completely uninvolved or helicopter parents. We need local business to support a mentoring program at their schools. And we need to stop thinking we know more than teachers about what's good for our students. Recently I listened to my step-daughter explain why she took her 2nd grader out of the school across the street to a public charter Montessori school several miles away. She said the books to learn to read were boring, the work sheets were unmeaningful, and that the child was given 45 minutes of homework a day that she felt was unnecessary. This woman has a Law degree and so she thinks she knows more about pedagogy than the teacher. This is a big problem as everyone thinks they know more than the teacher, including the students who learn to be disrectful of all authority from their own parents. Good luck, Natalie. Whatever happens, at least we are talking about the problems rather than being silent.

  18. Nicely put, Ms. Munroe. As a high school English teacher, I am following your case with interest.

    Oh--and here I sit, tidying my desk and pulling together the 50 freshman essays and 26 AP essays and 23 AIS (Academic Intervention Services) junior essays that will come home with me, along with my plan book and calendar, when I leave for the weekend, after my supervisory (a study hall overpopulated with 42 kids who come and go on a variety of schedules across an 80 minute period) and a planning period, when I might be able to inhale the sandwich I brought to eat at my desk because I am lucky to be able to tear away long enough to use the ladies' room, but never long enough to enjoy a meal with colleagues...I love my job, but you weren't exaggerating when you broached [some of] the challenges we face each and every day. My best to you.

  19. I've been watching this story with a great deal of interest. I'm not sure where I stand on your comments about or concerning your students: that's a whole "freedom of speech" vs. "responsibilities fo freedoms" thing that I won't ven go into: what I can identify with, though, is your frustrations.

    My wife has been a teacher for over 20 years now. As her husband I have lived with the ins and outs, ups and downs of the teaching career. I have helped grade more papers than I care to remember, all the while being absolutley appalled by some of the things these kids write and the way they write them. I have seen my wife struggle, agonize, and strain to try to bring some semblance of order and normalcy to the chaos, only to have some smart mouthed little creep blow the whole thing out of the water because he thought it would be funny. I've seen her spend our money to provide supplies that the school did not, only to have some of the kids treat them like as worthless and disposable and completely disregarding her sacrifices. I have seen her schedule conference after conference with parents who rarely or never show up, but who are surprised and outraged when their little darling gets a bad grade or - horrors - flunks. Of course, it's never little Johnny's fault: it's not that he skips class or school altogether, that he never turns in his homework or studies for a test. It's not that he doesn't take advantage of chance after chance for make up work that she provides, or even that the parents were too busy watching "Survivor" to help the kid with his schoolwork. Of course, it's NEVER that they never responded to the many letters and phone calls she made trying to get their attention and help: no - it's her fault because she's supposed to "teach them kids". From the disciplinary problem that turned out to be the son of an FBI agent, the school drug dealer whose father was a local cop, the meanest mean girl in the whole school whose mother was a child counselor - no, it has to be the teacher's fault. If she disciplines, she's mean and out of control. If she doesn't, she can't control her class. If she grades based on performance - you know, the way the WORLD does - she's not making allowances for those in the class who are slower. If she tailors lessons to the slower kids she's "not challenging" the more capable students. She works all day, then grades papers all night, spends her summers recuperating and taking continuing ed classes, is denied raises because the legislature is trying to save money, and gets to hear all about how the problems in the school are her fault and she should be paid "merit pay", which would now tie her compensation to the performance of the same snot-nosed little brats that delight in trying to make her life as difficult as possible day to day as it is. Why anyone in their right mind would agree to do this job for what it pays is beyond me, but I thank God on a daily basis that there are still those in the world who dream of making a difference and who will teach in a world intent on making that effort as fruitless as possible.

    Best of luck to you in your fight -

  20. As a teacher I can understand your frustrations about school politics, lazy unmotivated students, and parents and admin. who don't support you. However, I also have to agree with Philllip and Donna who do not question you RIGHT to post whatever you choose, just your wisdom in posting what you did. With every choice come consequences, a lesson we all need to learn.

  21. Hello, Ms. Munroe. I just want to extend my support.

    Posting about this situation will serve as a check-and-balance for the media who's currently having a field day, parents who consider their children's teachers as something short of day care nannies, and education professionals who are too happy to be detractors so some of the limelight would rub off on them and give them a chance to display their self-proclaimed well-adjustedness.

    Don't let these dementors suck out the fight in you. How do students say it these days? "You go, girl!"

  22. Say what you mean and mean what you say. That's what you did Ms. Munroe and I applaud you for it.

    I used to be one of those lazy/slacker students in high school who didn't want to put forth the effort into learning and it came back to haunt me when I started college after I was discharged from the Army back in December of 91. I had to take remedial classes before I could even take the college level courses. In high school I only had to take two years of math and only got to the level of pre-algebra, and that's where I started at while attending my Jr. college. Also at my JC, I started at the lowest level of English and had to work my way up the ladder to take English 1A. It was a process that I wish I would have taken more seriously in high school.

    I'm glad I had to struggle in college because every obstacle I overcame was a major milestone which should have been accomplished in high school.

    My soon to be 9 year old son is and will be the recipient of my academic experiences, knowledge, and all my hard work. I remember the struggles which I faced and I want for my son to be better prepared than I was, and he already is, and will continue to do so.

    In high school, I was lucky to have a teacher who taught me that to succeed in life you have to have that motivation that comes from within. "It doesn't come easy" he said, "but you and only you can make it happen."

    Many kids today don't have that inner motivation to want to succeed.

    I'm glad you expressed yourself the way you did because your message needed to be heard.

    Thank you!!!

  23. Myself appreciate precisely how you established and opened your blog to public information. Can find no cause in your writings to justify that it is somehow better to lock the general public out and only let friends have access – to keep it private behind closed blogs. Nothing in your blog, including some ‘tongue-n-cheek’ warrants the offensive treatment toward your efforts to teach or to be a teacher. Some conveniently chose to forget in their comments that some kids, some parents and a school principle decided to expose their school’s shortcomings, not you or your blog. I’d not heard of you until learning of the retaliation committed against you. Too many great teachers have been lost to elitist retaliation (constructive discharge). Teachers most often became teachers to be teachers. So many teachers did not join the profession to baby-sit disrespectful brats, nor so they could raise children for the naive parent, nor to mollycoddle parents or their children. Nor to be a law enforcement officer or a guard in a school prison setting. There are plenty of better paying occupations in those specialized areas and with great benefits and more time to self. Regardless of the so-called right to an education, the decision to learn remains a privilege, in my opinion. It is certainly a right for a child to decide not to learn. But how did it become a right to pan handle off society for the remainder of their lives because of their own bad decision making? Did they lose a job not of their doing? Did they suddenly encounter overwhelming medical bills? These sorts deserve our help, the miss-minded deserve community service learning a menial trade to support themselves. We claim to do this for special-ed. What reason is there to leave reg-ed behind? I support a child’s right not to learn and also support any administration enforcing that child’s right by removal from the traditional classroom setting to another style of supervised setting...not an elitist’s version of an alternative school but a setting that puts the body to work learning a menial trade while also maintaining the opportunity of obtaining an academic education at any age. When a child replaces his or her privileges with malbehavior that interferes with the teacher's duties and the children that are interested in learning, then how can it be otherwise that the responsibility weighs heaviest on the teacher to intervene? What sense does it make to leave the well-behaved behind? Intervention would certainly include ethical teachers providing specific and accurate opinions to children’s parents and often enough providing general opinions at large. Without that mechanism in play we get a continuing of what so many middle schools through high schools public education has been generally providing for these past decades: Neglect of children’s safety; Neglectful toward the privilege to have a civil learning environment; Neglecting a safe workplace for their teachers. How long will the decent allow bullies, mollycoddling elitist mentalities, pompous administrations and deficient politicians run their schools? For ever so long as the well-behaved allow it. It is for this reason I refuse to condemn the sorts that have pretty much destroyed the value of a high school diploma. Nor do I blame the kids for what adults allowed to happen. Forgive me but we are the culprits, we’ve lied to ourselves more than most have lied to us. We got what we got through forcing our own responsibilities for our own children’s academic education on to government without also providing the support for the great teachers to have the run. Mrs. Natalie Munroe’s effort to teach a country is supportable, appreciate her candid and respectful blog, am impressed with her views and her restraint concerning her views, and believe her attitude a typical necessity among the greatest teachers if ever our nation’s public education system is to have a chance at restoring to a national treasure. ~ jkraemer's opinions are not necessarily the opinions of the 2safeschools org membership.

  24. Natalie,

    Had you posted this blog originally, when you were at the height of your frustration, I can pretty much guarantee that what you are going through would not even be an issue. The fact is you, as a teacher, slammed and demeaned your students. Students that you are supposed to be educating. You sit there so high and mighty in your judgments of these children, and their parents, that you feel somewhat entitled to make these comments. You don't apologize and even stand by the hateful things you've said. A really good teacher can and does make a difference in a childs life. Granted, not ever kid is well behaved. There are some that make the learning experience difficult for everyone involved. I feel sorry for you that you feel it is to much of a "pain in the ass" to give a student some constructive feedback because it takes time away from you "finishing your report cards." If you don't like doing it, then maybe teaching is not the profession for you. I actually had a teacher like you in the 4th grade. She didn't like me because I had a learning disability in math and asked too many questions. Although, she didn't take me aside or send home a note. She addressed the entire class with comments like "oh boy, here comes yet another question from the retard." or "How did you make it this far in life being so stupid." or my favorite "Look the ugly girl is raising her hand. Maybe she'll get something right for once." I pity the kids you had in your charge, and I hope that the harshest consequences come your way.

  25. I hear you. Thanks for bringing our struggle into the light. You have very eloquently delineated the issues we face every day in the classroom.

    More points to consider:
    1. Would this have been an issue if you were male? I am reminded of the tradition of moral codes we have had imposed upon us females in this profession.

    2. Ever thought how much this society is moving closer and closer to the one Ray Bradbury envisioned in his novel Fahrenheit 451? So many folks choose to be entertained rather than educated.

    I started college at the age of 35. It took me seven years, full time, to complete my degrees, ending with a Masters in Teaching. I thought I was going to do something about the way my children were being educated. Instead of being an agent of change, I, after 15 years in this profession, feel so beat up and disillusioned, I wonder many days what brought me to this profession in the first place.

    People, think about your discourse. Spend one day, just one day, with a teacher in any public school. See what they do on a daily basis. Sit in on department meetings, special education meetings, grade level team meetings, proficiency remediation meetings, parent/teacher meetings. Do duty in the halls (if you dare). See if you find time in your day to eat something, use the restroom, and the holy grail, actually utilize a prep period to plan a lesson for the classroom. Many teachers teach more than one class. When do we have time to plan for all of them appropriately? Answer: at home, during weekends, summers.

    Let's talk about our extra duties as well. What about the time spent chaperoning dances, sporting events, plays, organizing professional development, and many, many more off the clock duties?

    Is it any wonder a classroom teacher might need an outlet to vent? Get a grip. I have been in other professions, and the cooler talk is much more inflammatory than anything you have written.

    I am sorry this is happening for you right now. Please know there are many, many of us out here sending you strength, and cheering you on.

    Do not let others bring you down. You sound like a feisty, brave young woman. Kudos to you!!!!

  26. It's hard to be a parent, counselor, peer mentor, friend and teacher to your students. And unfortunately, in today's society with the many struggles that parents face (or deny) that's the many roles teachers have to be to the students they are teaching. In an ideal world, your students would come to school fed, clothed and would have had a good nights sleep, in turn they would be ideal students in the classroom, also their parents would've modeled respectful and compassionate behavior to exhibit when away from home. I do agree that the teaching profession has not gotten the recognition it deserves. If so, many raises would have been had and NCLB would not have been created. I commend you on the years you had been teaching. If you are not retired from your teaching career I hope you come out of this experience a better person.

  27. Came across this while I was taking a break from reading the last paper in the current raft of drivel from my community college freshman comp usual, the last one is always the worst one, the one most difficult to read and most difficult to comment on intelligently, and the most frustrating because one knows how little will come of one's efforts.

    It's always frustrating to have to deal with the products of our K-12 system. Sometimes one does wonder what the teachers there are doing. But then one observes the students' behavior, their interests and lack of interest, their abilities and lack of ability, and realize you could be the greatest teacher on the planet and still turn out a few dunderheads. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, no matter how hard you try.

    IMHO the problem lies with the basic philosophy underlying our school system, and with the consequent demands we make on our kids, in a uniform and meaningless way. Not every kid should go to college. Not every kid will benefit by going to college -- if they're going to earn $10 an hour anyway, they can do it without spending $40,000 and four years of their time. We need to discern what young people will do with their lives and teach, as constructively as possible, to that. Doing so would alleviate a lot of boredom among the students, improve their behavior, and take a great deal of pressure off teachers.

  28. Totally support you, Natalie! Agree and I think your blog was harmless. Keep your chin up!

  29. If you wanted to start a conversation on education, starting it by denigrating your students in a most nonconstructive and mean-spirited way is no way to do it.

    I'm sorry; I don't buy the story that you are a standard bearer for better education. You were caught doing something stupid and you are unwilling to accept the natural and foreseeable consequences that flow from it.

    The argument that you should be left alone and "trusted" is particularly ironic given your poor judgment.

    There are a lot of wonderful teachers who actually care about their students and really do try to offer them constructive criticism and help. You may have been one at one time, but you have apparently given up. It's time to step aside and spare the Central Bucks East School District the time, expense, and energy it will need to deal with the fallout from what you've done. You will only embarrass yourself if you pursue your job. Let someone who cares about the students have it.

  30. I just want to offer my support. I teach middle school in NY and have many of the same frustrations you are talking about. I think what's happening to you is horrible and crosses some major lines as far as what's professional discourse as opposed to personal reflection. People want teachers to be wearing their teacher hat 24/7. That's just not possible- or healthy! Teachers need a way to be themselves...not Mrs, Miss, or Mr whoever. Good luck to you, Natalie! Know you have a supporter in NYS! :)

  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. Ms. Munroe:

    I have to disagree with much of the positive encouragement people are expressing here. I don't think your comments (in the original blog post you acknowledged you were writing at school and couldn't complete there because of a technical glitch) are well-put or wise. I think they are as whining as those you call out students for.

    I was a teacher for thirty years, in the same state you teach in, and I've made those whining comments from time to time. When your story first broke, I said that anyone who wishes to communicate privately with her friends or family should use e-mail, start a Google group, or password-protect her blog (I'm a blogger as well as a writer and an educator and a parent), and if someone doesn't know how to do that or doesn't think it's necessary, he or she should lose all access to electronic media.

    And here is what I said on a Facebook discussiion:

    "I put my finger this morning on what I found disheartening about Ms. Munroe's remarks: I don't know what purpose she has in making them. Is she mad at the students because they make her job harder? Because they are difficult to work with? B...ecause they don't appreciate her efforts to get them to respond to literature or writing? Because they don't respond they way she wants them to, a way that would let her indulge her love of Emily Dickinson or William Wordsworth or whatever author or form of writing she enjoys most or knows the most about?

    "Or is her goal as an educator to help her students learn how they can build on their skills and preferences and work with their weaknesses and their tendency to put less effort into the things they are not interested in?

    "I have a suspicion -- I could be wrong -- that she is disheartened by her students because they are not meeting her needs."

  33. This was a good post. You have my respect, and my sympathy.

    A few decades ago, I did something relatively minor - a basically harmless prank - that got me in Real Big Trouble. Newspaper coverage, TV news etc. It was over a prank, an ill-advised but really pretty harmless one, but which certain overexcitable individuals and unscrupulous (and imaginative) reporters managed to fan into a sensation that became a terrible, terrible six-month ordeal for me. Yet I had basically committed only a very superficial wrong. So I have some clue how you must feel.

    You made a gaffe. It was minor and, in my opinion, in poor taste but excusable. Unfortunately, in rare circumstances, a minor gaffe can blow up into something incredibly huge, and the internet only makes that easier.

    You keep speaking your mind. Any notoriety will pass, but you might be able to use for 15 minutes to initiate a long-overdue dialogue about education in this country. That would make the entire episode worthwhile.

  34. It seems that the general public would rather not bother with the "next generations" failing themselves, and just blame the Educators. As a fellow Blogger of other "taboo" subjects I applaud you!

    I enjoyed reading your musings... I didn't get the chance to read the original post though. I hope and pray that a change for the better comes from all of this! Enjoy the last bit of you pregnancy!

  35. Although I am not a teacher, I think every single one of my close friends is, and from the stories they tell is enough to know that teachers deserve to have summers off. Dealing with 1 child/teenager is usually enough, but to be a teacher,mentor, friend, parent, therapist to 20+ is something to be admired! Yes, there are bad apples, but like you said it doesn't make the whole batch rotten. Kudos to you and inadvertant voice for education!

  36. Two things really bother me about this.

    First, parents need to understand that spending time with disrespectful and rude students takes valuable learning time from those who want to learn who, by the way, are the majority of students. The parents of these students need to be speaking up en masse to insist that students who waste a teacher's and classes time need to be addressed.

    Second, the idea that a school district claims to have an Internet network use policy that states that it only be used for educational purposes, is to say that no person in the district, from the custodian up to the superintendent aren't using it for emailing, shopping, and other reasons, is ludicrous It just isn't true and to be sure, a professional should have the ability to use sit, much like the telephone.

    I must say that a teacher needs to know how to attend to off-task students. Preparation, a good paced lesson, a personal interest in the students, and knowing the secrets of classroom management are vital.


  37. While I think that some of the comments you made on the now infamous blog post were crude and hurtful, I stand by your right to freedom of speech and I applaud that you are using this "scandal" to shine a light on the issues that are facing America's educational system and our kids. We're falling behind the world in the education of our youth and unless we want to be a satelite-state of China one day, we better wake up and realize that things have to change. Parents NEED to be more involved with their children's academic lives, students NEED to be challenged and held responsible for their academic success, and teachers NEED to be supported by everyone involved. Thank you for standing by your words in the face of adversity.

  38. How cool that your former teacher came to support you! I have been teaching for almost 30 years and am also tired of education, teachers, and teachers' unions being blamed for students not learning.

    My years of experience have shown me that the home has the largest influence on students' motivation and ability to learn.

    When the home life is full of turmoil, or lack of interest, students don't come to school wanting to learn.

    If students feel safe at home, and know their parents expect them to learn, they do.

    What saddens me is how much mental time and energy the pain-in- the-ass kids take out of me. These are the kids I bring home with me, or keep me awake at night. I wish I could control it, and bring home the wonderful kids, which for me is usually a healthy majority of my students.

    I'm sure you have a lot of great kids in your classes also. But we rarely need to vent about them.

    I think the biggest injustice for teachers is that the home truly determines a child's attitude and aptitude towards school and learning. Yet we can't legislate proper home environments for our kids. So we try to legislate and blame the next best thing .... the teachers.

    As the Keanu Reaves character in Parenthood said, "You need a license to drive. You even need a license to fish. But any &%!#$?# reamin' *%#hole can become a father." It's far too easy to become a parent and much too challenging to become a good one.

  39. The problem started 20 or more years ago when the media scared parents into thinking they were damaging their children if they disciplined them or made them follow rules of any kind. As a result we now have teachers that are unable to control or influence their students. If the kids think they can manipulate their parents, why not their teachers? It's no wonder good teachers like you are frustrated, but it's not your fault. It seems to be taboo in our society to expect anything of kids. Instead of empowering them, their parent's permissiveness and catering to them has made them arrogant and selfish, with no desire to please anyone but themselves. So instead of not damaging the kids, the lack of discipline of any kind (and not just negative discipline, but structure of any kind) has only damaged them all the more. It's a very sad situation. And our PC society wants to kick the messenger, as usual. Instead of looking at themselves, parents are all too willing to make a scapegoat out of someone like you. Good for you for standing your ground, Natalie!

  40. I see this less as being about education, but more a symptom of the larger problem of social media in today's society. It's one I struggle with myself as a nurse.

    Many people bitch, make inappropriate comments and use hyperbole and/or mocking when they are frustrated. Most people just aren't working with children every day (thereby making the children the source of frustration). It typically isn't meant seriously and is just a method to blow off steam and deal with the difficulties of the job. Even the most caring professional you might have encountered has likely said something in private that would shock you because it is so horrifying to you as an outsider.

    So, the venting is important and does not reflect negatively on the person's ability to care and perform their job. In fact, I might argue that allowing that frustration to escape might help them deal with the situation and prevent burnout. But the issue is where is it appropriate for that discussion and venting to occur?

    I just recently attended a session dealing with social media and professionalism, and I think it is best thought of in terms of what was available 20 years ago. 20 years ago, if you had these bitches about students/families/patients, what would you do with them? Most people would talk to family/close friends/coworkers (who would all understand the context and importance of allowing safe venting) or in a private journal. They wouldn't start a column in the local newspaper to air their frustrations.

    If someone had hacked into an account to view the private journal/rants of a teacher or nurse, I think the blame then lies with the hacker. Just as if someone bugged your home illegally or broke in and stole your private journal, they would be obtaining private information that had been reasonably secured for the sole purpose of causing distress to the other person.

    But when it is out on the internet, whether via unprotected blogs or general facebook accounts, it is more like publishing that column in the newspaper. Maybe most people won't read it, but maybe they will and if there is any way to connect it with you and your job, you have to accept it will likely negatively impact you and your job.

    I think it is fine to bitch and vent, in a private, closed, protected area. But there's no reason the rest of the world has to be able to read those thoughts. Facebook can be tricky, because of the amount of people on it, and the ability to privately lock some aspects, but it is much more high risk I think than a private, password protected, blog that doesn't feature your name or location.

    The world of social media is changing how we interact with each other and I think everyone (including myself) need to think more about what we're putting out there.

  41. I would not be surprised if the situation with Natalie Munroe is being repeated all over the country in regards to student behavior. My teaching career has expanded to 28 years and I have witnessed what Ms. Munroe describes of her students here in Florida. Respect for our position was still present in most kids in 1982 when I started and is now characteristic of a small minority in 2011. Some national news organization needs to research and report on this in order to wake up many parents and their communities. I am truly concerned for the future of our country as I witness the behavior of our future business leaders, politicians, service providers, and citizens.

    Things have changed for the worse not just with the students but with administration. I have had personal experiences with my superiors over the years that led to extreme emotional distress and even now my unemployment. The short of a few situations:

    1) From 1982 to 1993, I was considered a top notch science teacher and track coach by my high school. As long as I made the school look good and worked to keep parents "happy" and not contacting administration, I was called successful. So successful, that I was named "Teacher of the Year" at my school and 1 of the top 10 in the school district. Just 3 years later, my teacher certification was threatened to be taken from me after I reported a sexually related incident between 2 students that covertly occurred in my classroom. I received no backing from the school or district after the female student involved made numerous false statements about my classroom management and personal character. Her mother demanded my termination while claiming her "innocent" daughter was scarred for life as a result of negligence they claimed. It took 2 and 1/2 years of documented incompetence by the school district and then the State Of Florida to find me innocent of any negligence, wrongdoing, or unprofessionalism.

    2) In 2004, I was told by the principal at my middle school that I was his best and worst teacher at the same time. Many, many parents called him or his assistants regularly to compliment my innovative methods. My class was the topic of conversation at many dinner tables. I was told at a meeting with the principal that my grade distribution was unacceptable and that it was not good for the school or my future. I inquired of him whether he was suggesting that I change the grades, make grading easier, offer high amounts or extra credit, or just come up with ways to make sure that every student possible could achieve the honor roll. He stated, "I am not telling you to do any of those things - but your grade distribution is not acceptable."

    I pointed out that all low grades were earned by students that were not trying in class, no matter what idea I had for each. I informed all students that I can come up with many different ways to achieve academic success, but that it had to be earned. I had to leave the school 3 years later due to a family health crises, but could not get rehired when I pursued a science opening that occurred in 2010.

    3) In 2010, I accepted a position at an area middle school. After just 4 weeks on the job, a student attacked me out of the blue in class while threatening to rub spit on me. I protected myself by blocking her with my hand and then pushing her back. She was not harmed in any way. I reported the incident immediately and then was contacted that night about possible termination of my employment. After fighting this unbelievable situation, I was let go without any explanation of what I had "done wrong". I am still unemployed.

    Enough for now - Ms. Munroe is just telling it like it is - whether parents or administrators like it or not.

  42. Enjoy your "fame" while it lasts, because as soon as you screw up, or if they find some dirt from your past, the news is going to turn on you and so will many others who support you now. You may think that all these people support you but most are just on a ban-wagon. However you do make points that are very clear and true such as descriptions of SOME students who lazy, stubborn, and disrespectful. The situation that the public sees is mostly from bias new sources that warp and distort the true image of certain people and events because one of those people did a negative action. An example of such would be the misconception that Muslims are terrorists, and the "mosque" that was going to be built in New York. Most Americans see Muslims as terrorists because the news notes that a lot of terrorist attacks are committed by those of the Islamic faith. However such a minute amount of Muslims do such attacks. Not to mention the news fails to report the Israeli terrorist attacks on Palestinians that occur frequently. The "mosque" that was going to be built in New York was portrayed in the news as an exotic building promoting the Islamic faith and to house terrorists to commit attacks on Americans. However the truth was is that a man, whom happened to be a Muslim, wanted to build a community center. It would offer many things to families and to people who needed a place to practice their own religion. Of course because the news distorted the facts and left some of them out the people saw what the news wanted to portray. The reason for distorting the facts was to get people to watch that network. Now those negative comments written by kids are being used to help your cause because the news wants more viewers. Promoting a negative view of people will attract more viewers rather than the news writing a story about kids doing very well in school, sports, and other extracurricular activities.

  43. Part 2
    Kids make stupid decisions all the time naturally because they haven't matured yet. They do not think about their actions and that is part of the learning process. Once they learn from the mistake they will better themselves to not make it again. Now I have read a good portion of your whole blog especially the praise of the students at the poetry/jazz festival. I like how fellow classmates don't point this out, they ignore it. They make you seem evil and bad. I never had you as a teacher but I understand that you get pretty frustrated with some of your students. I myself have observed how some of my classmates act and behave and alot of your comments can define some of them. However a majority of students are respectful and appreciative of their teachers. Sure they may take out their cellphones sometimes in class and get yelled at, but the news, as stated before, doesn't want to present the good side they want the juicy dirt to display. I have gone really off track from the main point but the entirety of the situation is based on the maturity. You as an adult, who has been licensed and hired to teach these older children, must understand that what you typed is wrong and disrespectful. Those students that have mocked you should understand what they are typing and talking about in school is wrong and very disrespectful. I myself actually am neutral on the matter and I just want this to end. If it were me who have found the blog I would have handled the situation more appropriately. You are soon going to have your child and will need to begin working. You said you have no plan in changing career. However you have been suspended with pay from work, and a return to CB East would not be in the best interest of you or the students (especially their parents.). You may find you suspension unfair but Mr. Lucabaugh had a very difficult dilemma to solve. He could either keep you in school or did what he did. If he kept you in school the kids would probably do anything they could to make you leave, which would have made your job even more miserable. Not to mention the parents would be at his throat demanding your immediate removal. And you “friends” the media would have bashed EAST and you. But since you were forced to leave, the news is portraying East as a school full of evil children and you as the poor Victim who had her feelings hurt and has her job hanging in the balance. I’m sure you remembered you were asked “What if this happened to your child?” You ignored the question because you knew in your mind that you would have been on your child’s side and be doing the same thing those parents of those students at East are doing right now. So I leave you with a question also, why are you continuing to go on with this? What is keeping you going? This is only going to dig your hole deeper.

  44. I have certainly heard many of the same thoughts and opinions you've posted in your blog spoken in schools in which I have taught. Of course we teachers discuss students and parent's involvement. Family life impacts school success. Of course we are frustrated by students and teachers do need support from administrators, parents and the community. Your blog, however, is not the faculty room. It's a public blog and your students are real people who deserved privacy and respect.

  45. I wanted to reproduce the email I sent to one of your detractors by which I learned of your case. Her colunm was posted by yahoo news at

    Hi Sylvia, I read your contribution about cyberbullying by the teacher. I read the teacher's blog entry that was cached in google. Other than admitting to using the word jackass that if used in puerto rico may be considered profanity (but in the rest of america, where a mainsteam movie was titled jackass, I doubt raises any eyebrows), I fail to see the bullying part. The students and parents are not identifiable solely from the information disclosed on the blog. The most indiscreet part of the entry was the disclosure of the failing score of 54%; she could have used a letter grade D-.. But only if the student/parent have publicized the student's score a stranger would be able to identify them.

  46. @Heylo Jules

    I have to differ from your characterization of Natalie's Blog, you stated:

    "The fact is you, as a teacher, slammed and demeaned your students."

    I read the blog entry Natalie wrote. There is not a trace of demeaning language in Natalie's blog. It was plainly written. No names were mentioned. The facts stated were limited and to the point.

    In contrast, the 4th grade teacher you describe does appear to be a bad apple. Unlike Natalie, your 4th grade teacher, you state, used the words "stupid", "retard", and "ugly" to publicly identfy you.

    Such conduct is the worst a teacher can inflict on a child.

    I have to commend you for overcoming your learning disbility. Your statement does reflect that you are perfectly able of constructing sound statements.

    Nevertheless, in order to be happy in life one has to forgive, forget and move on from our bad experiences. Natalie is not your 4th grade teacher. Natalie did you no wrong. There is no reason for you to feel hurt by Natlie.

    If we were to keep the hates of our past we will see our attackers in every corner and we will be at war with everyone new.

    In order to keep a new job you have to believe that your new boss is good and fair and not as evil as your old boss. Because if you treat your new boss as if he was like your old boss your new boss will likely fire you like your old boss did.

    I wish you the best.

  47. Kudos to you! As a public school teacher-in-training, private school staff member, I've seen how deplorable students can be and how enabling their parents can be. For the longest time, teachers have gotten the short end of the stick.

    During one semester of student teaching, of 2 summer school classes, my Master Teacher pressured me to curve the grades, on top of the "late work gets full credit," open-book/note exams, pre-test study guides, and extra credit policies.

    I got the message that she was still responsible for the class as she is the official teacher of record... and it was clear that the administration wanted most of these students to pass the class. The worst part of this was that even after the grades were curved... about 50% of the students still failed, and I had to fight to fail those students.

  48. Hi. This is James from the Philippines and I just heard today about you and THE debacle you got into. I've tried teaching Korean kids for 8 months. That's all the experience I've got as a teacher BUT that, I think, was enough for me to say that teaching required a greater deal that I previously thought it would. SO, I admire that you have chosen such an honorable profession considering the relatively low income teaching offers in the USA. So, anyway, I commend you for having brought to light the issue on America's youth. I for one have Filipino-American cousins and, to tell the truth, they scare the hell out of me. They yell at my Aunt for reasons that if I were to do that to my mom, my mom would beat me to pulp. Their respect for their mom could hit bottom low over petty reasons. If they could do that to their mom, what more to their teachers? Just know that there would always be people like me from all over the globe that respect you for what you did. That was really not your fault. Venting out is normal. People are just too much of a hypocrite and they can't see the truth even if it were staring them to their face. God bless you, Teacher Natalie. Love lots from the Philippines.

  49. Phillip Ramirez said February 18, 2011 9:32 AM...

    "Humility and discretion come with maturity. ...Take the high road... post nothing, so your detractors have nothing to use against you. Show your students that you have the maturity and discipline NOT to post."

    Phillip, it's time to speak up, not shut up. Teachers need to activate a coalition and use it to FORCE a national debate in this country about the deplorable state of affairs. You can hide under your bed if you want, but that's not the solution. Teachers have been quiet and acquiescent for way way too long.

  50. I am a teacher and I can respect where you are coming from in this post. I think it is addressing a dialogue that needs to happen with school committees, parents, elected officials, and educators across the country.

    I do think that if you posted demeaning or confidential (stories that do not completely hide your students' and school's identity) information, you have earned the criticisms of your past blog. I have not read your past entries, but our work is confidential and we need to keep the lives and activities (no matter how frustrating or irritating) of our students out of the public eye, no matter how few people you think are reading or how little you write. I worry that the important message about the treatment of teachers will be lost because your haphazard exposure of your students.

  51. Sometimes it takes a public controversy like this to showcase the real problems with our education system. The real accountability is on the families that enjoy the free education our nation has arranged. I mention "families", as it is the student and his or her parents that are primarily the reason the citizens spend so much on education and our nation's entreprenuers receive so little. We can spend all we can on education, but it won't change the attitude of children when they are only focused on television, music, sports, etc. My wife and I fight this with our own daughter, but we spend a lot of time discussing school topics and partner with her teachers by doing my job as a parent. I help my daughter with her homework and projects. I enjoy helping to educate my daughter and I support all her teachers as they only want to see her succeed.

  52. My mother shared something with me many years ago that has yet to lose it's profound wisdom...

    She stated, "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all."

    That being said, I feel that venting is a healthy way of navigating through some of the difficult situations that one experiences at times.

    It is wise though to vent inside of the social circle concerned; the teaching circle being most appropriate in this case.

    When one wanders outside of the circle concerned, the ripple effect takes hold, and can result in possible damage to those it touches.

    Contemplating all trying circumstances with ones own heart before taking any action whatsoever allows for the necessary time to reflect upon the implications of the next step to be chosen.

    Life is a series of choices, choose wisely...

  53. Awesome! Love your new place. I'm glad you're stepping up in the education conversations that are happening. I'm glad you aren't letting yourself be cowed. You have a right to your point of view, and it's obvious you've come to it thoughtfully. I'll keep following you.

  54. Thanks Natalie, and best of luck. This started with NCLB, then there was Rhode Island, and then Race to Nowhere, and now Madison and you. What happened? Teachers used to be revered and we respected them. What changed?

  55. I really don't think that you should of said stuff about your students like that. It is so mean in how you pretty much dissed every student about their flaws. I'm a straight A student and I work hard for it. I live in a good school district in the Camden County area. I am not a high school student, but I do know how some of them act. Still you shouldn't of said stuff about their flaws because everyone has issues but we all have good in us too.

  56. THANK YOU!!! Congratulations on your baby by the a mom myself to two very young and wonderful children I fear sending them to school because I fear them being around and a part of a generation who feels entitled, has no accountability, is held to no standards, shows no respect, doesn't "earn" anything, has "friends" instead of parents, etc. MY Husband and I EXPECT them to show respect, be accountable, earn what they want etc. but sadly I feel like I am the minority!--what the HECK IS WRONG WITH PARENTS these days?....Thrilled to keep reading and happy that this is coming to light!

  57. Dearest Fellow 21st Century Educator,

    Should you be crucified for this? Heck. no. Is it going to happen because of the insanity of redirecting money under the guise of CC's (and now other governors') "education reform"? Yeah. I read the CNN article about this big hub-bub and your response saying, "If this opens up discussion for the real issue in schools ... etc"

    I think we want to word things differently ... possibly. I do not have the answers of WHY 10% of NJ's schools fail to meet AYP - mine is working tirelessly with after school programs and mentors and accountability. I think the biggest problem is the time after 4pm ... the time parents need to educate their offspring. Can we do better in the classroom? YES - we ALWAYS have room to improve. However, I agree and concur on your frustration with today's kids. I'm not too old myself, 26, and the values and priorities of my middle schoolers are sooooo vastly different from my own at that age.

    So ... why? Why are our kids dumb, disrespectful, rude, unmotivated, apathetic, entitled (I could go on, trust me) Is it us? Really? I don't remember writing lesson plans entitled "How to uze Wikipedia 4 my reseeerch paper that I's can right in 10 mins" or "How not to care" or "How many times can I ask a teacher 'So what' before she freaks out on me?"

    Hmmm, nope ... don't remember writing those plans ... I wonder. I wonder where on earth they must get it?

    I'll be praying for you to be restored to an honorable place of employment. You're serving a greater good in this pretty crappy circumstance and none of us can deny it. Was it the BEST idea ever ... probably not. But you know darn well no one is going after the police department when they say, "Geeez, these drug addicts! It's like they have no morality!"

    Stand strong!!!!

  58. just heard about you - i am feeling bucket loads of empathy. hang in there, knowing that no matter how erudite and compassionate you are, the world is full of ignorance and fear. a blog hug to you sis.

  59. hi just read about you. Wanted to say congrats on having the balls to blog about your work. As someone who works in Manchester, England with disaffecter young people. I find it difficult to discuss their issues and problems on my blog because we do have child protection laws in England. x

  60. In Philippines, teachers has the moral authority to discipline the student or pupils as we are trusted by parents. Seldom we received complain. Parent themselves are happy if we are disciplining their children.

    In US it is totally different and lots of Filipino teacher living in US right now have the same common complain. Behavior problems.

  61. Well said. Stick to your guns, because you are *right*.

    While I'm not a teacher, I *have* been in your shoes.

    During my time in the Navy, I was periodically called upon to train my division in aspects of our equipment or troubleshooting techniques of which I had more knowledge than most. My "students" had no desire to be present, did not desire to know what I could teach them, and couldn't care less about the effort I had invested in the presentations.

    *Very* frustrating. I'll go so far as to say *infuriating*!

    On the other hand, while I was in school, I had one or two teachers that I just couldn't understand *why* they were there. It certainly wasn't to teach. After all these years, the only reason I can think of is that they enjoyed having power over a group of children. (This was years ago, when a teacher was a monarch.)

    Thank God, the vast majority weren't like that. In fact there were those that want far "above and beyond". My first algebra teacher, Mrs. Meyers, spent hundreds of hours on the telephone with me as I struggled with my homework.

    Then one day, I finally "got it". In fact, I grew to love algebra.

    If not for her, I never would have been able to pursue my career in electronics.

    Thank you Mrs. Meyers, where ever you are. I wish I could say that to you in person.

    I'm sure there's *somebody* that you've been able to reach that way. Try to take comfort in that, and search for the next one.

    You *do* make a difference, in spite of appearances.

    Thank you for being a teacher.

    Milas Thompson, EM1(SS) USN (Ret)

  62. I relate and empathize 100% with everything you've said and with what you are experiencing. I blocked my blog for similar problems. Keep your head up and hang in there. I understand what is happening and feel horrible for you....

  63. Natalie-

    First I must say that I understand and agree with your frusteration with the education system. There are many changes that can be made, and if you are going to become the face of these changes, I wish you the best of luck. Altering such a long standing system will not be easy, in any way shape or form.

    I would hope that in the future all educators will refraining from writing the insensitive things you said about your students. As you said, one or two bad eggs doesn't mean the whole lot is ineffectual (or whiny or lazy or rat-like). As you said, you damned the good students right along with the bad ones, which is one of your gripes in your latest post.

    If educators (I'm including you, me, other teachers who posted on this blog... all of us) are going to be upset that other professionals are ignorant of how difficult our job is, we should be just as considerate with our students.
    Remember, being a sixteen or seventeen year old isn't too easy either.


  64. I found this post on a Facebook thread about teachers' pay...I will not include the young person's name, of course, but have copied her words:
    "I'm a high school student, and this year, my English teacher had a student teacher working in her place. She struggled so much for two months, especially since our class was unruly, impatient, and uncontrollably lazy. She tried teaching, but every day, every couple of MINUTES there were interruptions, or classroom defiance. It was just her first taste of teaching a high school class, and she quit. She resigned after two months and left to go back to school.
    I don’t think people truly understand what it is to deal with 25…30…45 young adults… Struggling to teach them abstract ideas and concepts that they just plainly don’t give a crap about."
    hmmmm...either this young lady attends CB East, OR this "problem" exists in other high schools across the nation.

  65. As a laid-off teacher I am glad to see you putting a light on many of the educational problems we have today. What I haven't seen mentioned is the biggest problem - teacher unions and so-called tenure. Forcing schools to hang onto bad teachers hampers the efforts of good teachers trying to improve schools. See "Waiting for Superman." The original argument for tenure was to protect the speech of teachers - it looks like it did you a lot of good! The only teachers being protected by tenure and the unions are the old and lazy.

  66. Natalie,

    Keep it up! As a former teacher we used to make fun of the cherubs too when no one was looking or listening. It helped us release pressure so that we could go in and do our job well. Look at the posts here. Nearly all supportive with a smattering of whining. Just like life. Ignore the whiners, they have already done enough to ruin this great nation.

  67. I support you, Natalie, and the conversation that you inadvertently started. I see the increased work load that teachers deal with, the lack of support they get and the low financial compensation they earn. It is a job done, by most, out of love and desire to make a positive difference in the world. I also see how the school administration's main concern is 'image'...they have somehow been put in the position of 'marketing' their school district....and the 'marketing' is about dollars and when money becomes the driving force, it seems mediocrity, image and compliance are the results. I think many young people see thru this....they react in different ways according to who they are and the modeling they have had. I don't feel we should blame them out rightly....their issues and behavior mirror ours - as adults - as a society. It truly makes me sad to see us blame them (though, in the end, they need to understand it is their lives and they are responsible for what they make of themselves) ...that is not the message they have heard growing is not the message the media (which they are inundated with) sends them. (Does any other parent out there feel like they have lost most of the control over what their children are exposed to....and if you haven't, that it is a ongoing battle?)
    This is a most excellent conversation as it a call for us, as adults, to look at ourselves. I have two boys. They think I am very odd because I do not want them to play video games, listen to the 'day's' music, or watch TV (we do not have cable in our home). I tell them we - as a society - are failing them...they are the one's who will really suffer because of the lack of control we have over what they are exposed to - what their young brains are getting 'soaked' in.
    It is a very hard conversation - and it is overwhelming in it's implication of how far we have fallen down. I think as adults we have in some ways given up trying to 'fight it'...for those who have seen it....and it shows up in young people...why should they care when the adults don't seem to really busy making money to live in a nice house and have lots of nice stuff...especially those expensive little technical gadgets...what is really important???? (How many parents, percentage wise, show up at school board meetings?) Let us look to a society. We live quite isolated lives, but we are not islands unto ourselves....but when we behave like this, much is taken out of our control. What values do we uphold and truly live and demonstrate....these are what our children see. I don't think we can 'fix' our schools until we change what we as adults value and, in turn, demonstrate as a society....I suggest a change needs to be organic in nature. Lets turn off our TVs and get more involved so we, as parents, truly know what is going on in our children's lives and in the schools they attend.

  68. Following your recent adventures from sunny Florida, I wanted to offer my support and wishes for a speedy resolution to this mess. I no longer have children in the school system but living in a rather small, close minded community, I can easily relate to the frustrations you feel. I am not an educator but consider myself fairly intelligent and I can assure you that I am fearful of the world being left in the hands of todays generation. I work in law enforcement and unfortunately see the results of bad parenting every day. If teaching is not done from day one, you, as an educator, do not stand a chance. I'm sure this is and has been very disheartening to you, wanting so much to make a positive difference and hitting a wall at nearly every turn.

    Many of these parents refuse to accept the fact that they have failed and you have touched a sore spot in pointing this out. Truth hurts but if they choose to ignore the facts, those children will be the ones who end up pregnant,
    cleaning some filty motel room for $5.00 an hour or worse yet, end up in jail or on the streets.

    You are only one person and can only do so much. I commend you for trying and encourage you to not give up. You will have students that go on to be successful, positive influences in the world. Adults that will make a difference and leave a legacy for others to gain inspiration from.

    None of this hype is about your written word, freedom of speech, ethical standards, etc. America is in denial and you rubbed a sensitive spot. Don't feel sorry for speaking the truth or apologize for who you are.

    Enjoy time with your family and friends and doing the things you enjoy. In the end, it's really all that matters. Good luck to you.

  69. As a 30 year veteran, now retired, middle school and high school teacher, I say, 'Brava!" You are free to write what you want, and the fact that you kept things fairly anonymous shows your professionalism.
    Kids can be a pain in the ass, and teachers' lounge discussions and Friday afternoon "meetings" at the local bar allow teachers to let off steam. If there had been more blogging going on several years ago, we would have been blogging our heads off!
    Acronym coined my one of our favorite substitutes: RCS=Recalcitrant Little Sh**s

  70. You`re a wonderful writer. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. It must be very frustrating to try to teach and be in competition with all of the outside influences - texting, internet, television in trying to keep young people`s attention. I could not imagine even wanting to try. If you ever get tired of teaching, I`m sure you would do well as a writer.

  71. I have a friend who volunteers at her childrens school who said this is her last year. She can't believe the behavior she sees in 1st grade. Children telling her they don't have to do anything they don't want to. Kids wanting rewards for bad behavior, not doing their homework. Parents coming in complaining to her, a volunteer, that she is not being fair, that she doesn't understand, etc. And this is going on in 1st grade. Realistically, how can any parent think their child is going to be any different once they reach high school?

  72. Doctors and Lawyers do get questioned constantly. There are ethics committees, grievance committees, malpractice law suits. Patients and clients often don't listen to advice, and then turn around a sue when they don't get the outcomes they want. I'm pretty sure these count as questioning.

  73. @seowebdesigner said...

    "In Philippines, teachers has the moral authority to discipline the student or pupils as we are trusted by parents. Seldom we received complain. Parent themselves are happy if we are disciplining their children."

    I disagree. It doesn't give the whole picture. That is the case if you are dealing with public school students in the Philippines. The situation is very different in the private schools, as parents AND students can always say to the teachers that irritating line, "I'm the one paying for your salary."

    Teachers in the Philippines have the exact situation as with the teachers in US. The teachers do not have any moral authority anymore, they are not even seen as an authority inside the classroom. To top it all that, the administrators are very ready to please the parents than to protect their teachers.


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