Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How Natalie Munroe is Like Secretariat...and Why Teachers Need to Read This

Today is one of those days...I have to just sit back and watch the interwebs in wonder. It's a history-making day, I believe. Why, you ask? Read on!

Natalie Munroe, the venting teacher-blogger from Doylestown, is now telling her side of the story! On her blog, which is back in business and racking up followers with a speed I've never seen before (it's like freaking Secretariat!), she defends her infamous postings (which are no longer viewable, I think)...and she is not apologizing. 

That's okay with me, just to be clear.  I am not a member of any audience that thinks she's a bad person or bad teacher.   http://natalieshandbasket.blogspot.com  

I think Natalie Munroe is a regular person and probably a very normal teacher.

I have a ton of work to do today, but just let me quickly add some discussion points about blogging and teaching that were raised on teacher Billgx's interesting "TechIntersect" blog:  http://billgx.edublogs.org

@Billgx commented that he likes blogging teachers (he is one, by the way), but that he also counsels teachers to be careful on Facebook. Good advice. 

I wondered if, however, this was conflicting advice, in its own way.  Bill said it was, but he is just being sensible. It is better for teachers to know in advance if a rug is going to be pulled out from under them [for online presences], he wrote (paraphrase).

I understand. This is what I replied--and I am repeating it here because I think it's fodder for some potentially  interesting discussions.

“If the rug will be jerked out…” true, it is better to know that in advance! But I also wonder: would this stop if teachers spoke out more about this happening with alarming frequency, as it seems to have been, given the coverage Ms. Munroe and I have both received for blogging?

I have said before (on Twitter, I think) that I believe all teachers who have been fired for blogging (whether that’s the real reason or not) may be somehow making the world safer for others who follow in their wake. I believe we’ve taken the fall, in a way, so that others will not have to.

But at the same time, if the “knee-jerk” administrative reactions that Bill has noted just happen more and more as a result of fear-mongering, pot-stirring, gossipy press, and TEACHERS JOIN IN with criticism (instead of seizing the opportunity to rebel and be brave and speak out on behalf of others in their chosen profession), then things will get worse instead of better.

There is a revolution happening (a minor, quiet one) in teaching. We can revert to a blame-filled, hyper-conservative orthodoxy that enslaves teachers in its own way, or we can push for positive changes for society and its opinion about online forums…and in this way, be the best models for students, as well.

I believe that this is the pivotal moment when things can either get worse or get better for teachers who dare to blog, tweet or even post on Facebook.

Of course, I understand the need for online manners. I always tried to have them, but I was still attacked. Ironic!

I have asked, “Will any online presence ultimately damn a teacher?”

Only teachers can answer that question.

So what do YOU think?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Everyone Needs a Book to Read: Here Are 100 Ideas

Up for a reading challenge? Take on 100 classic books.

You can't read that much? Oh, give me a break. Yes, you can.


My children are at the 6,700 book mark in their local library (we are running out of books there). Think how much you can read if you just start by picking up a book (or flipping on the Kindle) now.

Happy reading!

Making Connections (Finding Personal Success, Redux)

A social media friend of mine, the Intrepid Teacher (Jabiz Raisdana, in Indonesia right now), just posted about Brene Brown (social worker/researcher) and her now famous TED talk, and he made a very cool "mash-up" that you really ought to listen to. 

Get inspired by the ideas in here and also by the sheer creativity of Jabiz's personal projects.

See the blog posting here and scroll through to get to the TED talk, and to Jabiz' mashup. Some interesting reader comments are worth a look, as well.

Start a dialogue with yourself or--better yet--with others about the concepts and questions included here.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I'm Actually Not a Narcissistic Bitch. That's Just My Beer.

My husband and I recently made a beer that we named "Narcissistic Bitch." 

There are reasons for that name: it is, on the one hand, a play on "Arrogant Bastard Ale," but it's also a nod to the exact names I was called this past year because I dared--and still dare--to write about teaching! (Needless to say, it has been one hellish, crazy year.) 

I decided on an homage to Wonder Woman (it's not precisely WW) for the label because Doug has always said that I remind him of this particular female superhero. That's sweet...but it's a lot to live up to, and certainly, I look less like Wonder Woman with every passing day. Still, I'll take it. Wouldn't you?

I drew this label with Staedtler markers and washed over them with a bit of watercolor. I had to do that, to get the skin tone, but the marker ran a bit. It turned out pretty well, nevertheless. 

I had no gold paint, so I 3D'ed it with actual glitter. This is a scanned color copy of the original artwork.

Narcissistic Bitch was, without a doubt, the best beer we've ever made. It was a chocolate porter, but honestly, not really chocolaty or weird. It was like Winter Welcome (if you've had that)--just a bit richer.

We will make more soon. In the meantime, I get many requests to see the label. I scanned it and I am not all that happy with the scan, but it's the best I can do here. 

Happy Icy February!