Thursday, September 11, 2008

Freedom...to Blog...to Read Blogs...to Avoid Blogs

Blogging for almost two years now, I’ve read with great interest those posts by favorite authors (bloggers, whichever you prefer) that pop up from time to time regarding anonymity, confidentiality, off-limit topics, etc. I’ve found it interesting that bloggers of all makes and models, be they crafters, artists, teachers, poets, home decor gurus or chefs, have had to deal with clarifying their blogs' focus and intentions, and in some cases, have either had to publicly defend their blogs' value and validity at the risk of losing their employment or customer base, or stop blogging all together because bosses didn't like what was being put out there.



Several of my favorite educational bloggers write anonymously. Some blog sites include disclaimers such as “this blog reflects my own personal opinions and not necessarily those of my colleagues or employer,” while other authors avoid identifying their schools, school districts, state or locale in any way, shape or form. Some friends and blogging colleagues with whom I write identify themselves and their locales on their blog sites, and have received varying feedback from their employers when their blogs have been shared, or in some cases, “discovered." Encountering a few no-holds-barred blogs authored by anonymous teachers with bones to pick and gripes to share, I felt a strong inclination that my own blog should be written honestly and without cheap shots.




When I decided to start blogging, I did so only at my MySpace page. Only friends or those who were willing to dig through millions and millions of MySpacers could find the blog, and frankly, I wasn't sure anyone would find it of interest once they did. Friends, family, colleagues, even former students are linked to my page, so should you visit it, you'll find it's a pretty accurate reflection of who I am. The page expresses my tastes, my humor, and my interests, much like my blog. My friends and family reflect a wonderful diversity that I enjoy, but I understand that visitors might not feel as comfortable with what they encounter when they leave my page to explore others. As always, it’s your choice to keep reading, or hit the back button. Leave the page, empty your cache or history, or shut down your computer. I have the right to write, you have the right to read, or to not read. Freedom is cool that way.


My writing evolves as do my interests. My writing "voice" continues to develop and change. I’m not only a teacher, but a wife, mother, daughter, friend, baker, and crafter, who enjoys sharing discoveries, recipes, teacher tips, family funnies, and the occasional rant with my readers. Since moving to Blogger (Kindergarten’s 3 R’s) I've gained more experience, fiddling with templates, subject matter, my blogroll, avatar, and all of the other bells and whistles that accompany publishing online. I choose to use my real name on my blog, but also choose to not “out” my family, friends, or colleagues by using their last names, location, school, or naming their employer(s), or mine. I am sensitive to the issues of confidentiality, safety, and mutual respect. I have chosen to share my thoughts with whomever might want to read them, and understand that just because I want to share doesn't mean everyone else will feel so inclined. I'm sassy, I'm silly, and I'm sarcastic. I appeal to some readers, not to all. Thankfully it's not my job to make everyone happy.




My present employers have told me they do not have a problem with me maintaining the online presence that I have at Blogger, EduBlogs, or MySpace. The content I’ve shared isn’t cruel or illegal, nor have I exposed my students’ or their families’ identities. As a teacher I’m happy to give credit where credit is due, so I link back to blogs I share, and identify colleagues (former and current) by first name only. They are appreciated, they are creative, they are inspiring, and for those far from my present location, they are missed. Many of them keep tabs on me and my family’s adventures by subscribing to my blog or checking directly at the site. Some colleagues have been inspired to create their own blogs, while many others enjoy their "lurking" practices. Several readers love the videos, while others find them a waste of space, preferring photos of my home decor or classroom center arrangement from which they can draw inspiration. To each his/her own.


Being a teacher who has been on the move for the past five years, my blogs reflect my emotions and impressions that are tied to each relocation, family upheaval, new school district, each state, and yes, each staff. I post the good, the funny, the stressful, and even the not-so-hot. I voice my enthusiasm, my questions, my concerns, and my frustrations. I advocate for my students, their families, and for my colleagues. My criticism and rants almost always strike a nerve with those who agree with my point of view as well as with those who don’t. When I read comments or emails about particular posts, I know many of us share common issues and concerns, though we don't always agree with each others' philosophies or opinions. I welcome dialogue and open communication- it’s how I learn, clarify, and understand. While readers regularly offer support and agreement, often it's due to the fact that my rants match many of their own beliefs. Those who disagree with me move on and find other bloggers with more appeal. Readers may feel that I’ve aired dirty laundry about my school environment, though I’m guessing they find no objection with the praise and appreciation that I’ve also shared.



New kindergarten teachers who are seeking out their place in their new schools, parents of soon-to-be kindergartners or teachers in Title I schools have thanked me or subscribed to my blog because they feel it offers an honest voice, hope, helpful links and some tricks of the trade worth sharing. It helps to hear that similar misconceptions about kindergarten and public education are being dealt with by someone other than ourselves, that the joys of teaching outweigh the stresses, and that we are not alone, though we may occasionally feel isolated in our new environments. Teaching is not all glory and roses, it's also not all torment and drama.


There are some really terrific teachers out there, and a lot of great teachers that also happen to be human and have tough days. Mistakes are made, even by yours truly. No one is perfect. Whether we like it or not, there are also some bruised or bad apples in the barrel, narrow minded educators who are more defensive than supportive, more belligerent than collegial, and administrators, school boards, and politicians who for some reason have lost sight of the fact that students are more important than numbers, and that diversity will always prevent one-size-fits-all programs from ever helping each and every child. Many parents will be involved, some parents will occasionally need more hand-holding than their children do, and sometimes parents won't ever set foot in your classroom.



I've done this job long enough to recognize the truths of it. I've traveled enough to have some tales to tell, and have been both blessed and burdened by those who inhabit with me the playing field that is Public Education. I have a lot yet to learn, and more students to reach and teach. I anticipate having more thoughts to share, examine, and rethink with my colleagues both past and present, and I look forward to continuing to connect with educators, administrators, parents, and those interested in early childhood education via the web.

This blog is not a witch hunt, nor is it written with the intention to harm my students, their families, my colleagues, or our administrators. Breathe. Relax. Come ask me for clarification if necessary as we're all still getting to know one another. Otherwise, feel free to NOT read this blog. Check out the links to some other "teacher bloggers" on the right hand sidebar (they are awesome!), sit back and enjoy a recipe or two, or avoid my blog completely. It's all good.

Cookie anyone?

3 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading this post, but I wonder if you wouldn't mind sharing what prompted it?

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  2. I don't mind sharing if you don't mind the vagueness of it~ as it turns out, I'm not *exactly* sure what inspired two visits I had to my classroom this week~ visitors mentioning my blog.

    The first was an "oh, I found your blog, it's terrific! It's a great idea to share tips and ideas" with additional praise for not identifying students or families by name.

    The second visit was a colleague who visited my room for the first time to help me with some questions I had asked earlier in the week...and to give me a heads up that "someone" in the building was less than pleased with my blog and was causing a ruckus over it.

    As it turns out, the ruckus was probably what inspired the FIRST visit, though I didn't know it at the time.

    Nope, I have no idea what specific details of my blog caused the upheaval and concern, and my only response to the second visitor was to tell her that should she feel overwhelmed by listening to the complaints, she should feel free to encourage the upset party to come on down to my room to chat, visit, touch base, and give me the chance to clarify what I may or may not have printed, or may or may not have implied. I am happy to apologize when I've made a mistake, especially since I haven't had the opportunity to get to know many of the upper grade teachers or staff due to my schedule and the location of my class at the furthest end of the building.

    The ol' mysterious grapevine scene it was this week. He said that she said that they said that she said...

    All I know is that supposedly, someone read my blog. He or she didn't like what was written or displayed, and may or may not have complained about it.

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  3. Hmmm. . . that scene sounds very familiar! Good luck & keep posting- I love them, even if I can only catch up on the weekends! :)

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As always, thank you for your comments, tips, suggestions and questions!