In trouble for purposeful reflection

For the last several weeks I've been following the story of a student teacher who has been blogging his triumphs, failures, and frustrations of his credential program and of teaching in the classroom.

Recently a teacher from within his department confronted him on it with the ominous: "We, the department, know you're blogging.¹" The blog is anonymous to protect the innocent, though the confronting teacher noted he could recognize people mentioned in the blog.

I won't go through his whole story here (if interested, please read more at his blog), but needless to say, it could end with his removal from the credential program.

In my recent job hunt, I was asked by some if I was worried potential employers would see my blog. I wasn't. I'd like any place that hires me to know that I am an active participant in my own global learning community. I wanted to get hired by a district and school that is supportive of the use of technology for personal professional development. If a district has a serious problem with a teacher that blogs, then I'd have serious reservations with accepting a job at such an institution.

In an episode of David Warlick's Connect Learning podcast, Chris Lehmann of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia discusses what he looks for when he's interviewing for teaching positions. Instead of trying to determine whether teachers will be toadies of the system who'll turn their monthly lesson plans turned in on time, he specifically looks for teachers who are active learners in their own right², both in their personal and professional lives. What better way to actively participate in your own learning that utilize a blog to share and have conversations about ideas?

There are too many schools (and teachers) out there who seem afraid that someone will find out what we're actually doing in the schools. I understand there are real and important issues in protecting student privacy, but I don't feel the system should be afraid of the general public finding out there is a group of thoughtful, reflecting, constantly improving educators out there.

Recently I posted a portion of some student work. I didn't mention who the student was or really any details about the student whatsoever. Yet, if that student saw it posted he/she would obviously know it's their work. His/her parents and some of his/her friends would probably also recognize it. Was that "unprofessional?" Did it break an "unstated, implicit confidentiality" between teacher and student? I argue it didn't. Or was I wrong?³


¹ Everytime I've read that I think of the movie Congo: "We. are. watching. you." It's probably an inappropriate association.

² Among many other things.

³ This may be the clearest instance of preaching to the choir. Evar. If you're reading this blog (especially commenting on it), you're probably not blog-o-phobic. Oh well. Your thoughts on the matter are still appreciated.