Thursday, April 16, 2009


Today, I have been thinking about this whole idea of transparency. That's really why I started writing this blog in the first place - I wanted to be honest and informative about what we do in our school that works. I wanted to chronicle our successes along with our challenges. I wanted a place to ask the hard questions and a place to be able to write about real feelings and to tell real stories. Today someone mentioned to me that people might be reading my blog, not because they were interested in what I had to say, but to "monitor" what I say. They might be more interested in things like- is she bashing the county? is she bashing the new reading series? is she sharing things that should not be talked about?

Recently at TLN, there was a conversation asking members if they shared their blog with their county, their administrator, their colleagues? I was surprised to learn that some of the members don't. While their on-line presence and global audiences are HUGE, the teacher next door or their principal might not know what they are writing - for the entire world to see! I, on the other hand, am likely to send a blog post to you, even if I am complaining about you. I sent the Technology Director my blog when I complained about not enough bandwidth or not being able to Skype. I sent the literacy trainers my blog about the district's adoption of a Core Reading Series that was really not meeting the needs of the digital natives we are teaching. It's not that I'm trying to stir things up or cause controversy because basically, I'm a peace maker. I guess I just think, it is what it is. I don't usually write something that I wouldn't say to your face, so, if I've written about it, you might as well know I've said it directly in person or with my pen! After all, it can be quite difficult to "hide" on the Internet!

Besides, if I censor everything I say, what is real or different about this type of writing? It's in its honestly and timeliness that makes it unique and worth reading. Since I write on my own time and since the thoughts are mine, what could anybody do about it anyway? Does my "boss" have the right to censor what I say? On the other hand, while I think I am basically respectful, I do believe it is possible for totally inappropriate things to be written that would be totally offensive - is that okay? I'm not sure how I feel actually... However, it would be nice to have some guidelines from the county -some suggestions for appropriate behavior online or maybe... even a list of what might get you fired!

I like to think that I work in a county that values risk taking. I KNOW I work in a school that encourages risk-takers.  I would like to think that those in our county that read by blog are smiling or applauding. I want to think they are proud that I, and so many of our teachers, have enthusiastically embraced this new form of networking and communicating. However, a friend asked me recently if I was retiring after a blog post she read because she couldn't imagine I could still be teaching if I was willing to risk such a stand. Often I have been told from teachers that have read certain of my blog posts that they were afraid to comment - afraid of what? Of having an opinion? Of engaging in thoughtful, open discourse? If that's the case, how sad is that?

Since I haven't answered any of my owns questions except with more questions, I guess I am left to continue pondering... unless YOU would like to share your thoughts so we can have a discussion. I'd love to know what censorship you think should be placed upon an employee? Is there a line that shouldn't be crossed? Should a "boss" be able to tell you what you can or can't write about? Should you follow that "suggestion"? How are counties dealing with this issue? Anyone have a list of suggested guidelines? I'd love to hear your opinion!


Melanie Holtsman said...

Wow, dayle! As always, you leave me floundering for what to say that you haven't already said brillantly.

I'm not sure what I would do if my boss didn't allow me to be a risk taker. I do make all I can of what I do transparent in my building and to the world. I don't really know who reads my blog, but I agree with you when you said that you wouldn't write anything that you wouldn't say anyway.

I do think we are behind on guidelines that should be in place for teacher and student online behavior outside of school. I don't want restrictions, because we do have a right to live our lives as we see fit, but guidelines for what everyone else sees of our lives should be in place to help teachers. We need to be teaching students about digital identity, yet many teachers don't understand their own. For myself, I try to read about the battles other districts have had with these issues and make decisions based on facts. I hope policy makers are doing the same and making decisions based on fact and not hype.

In the meantime, I can only trust my own instincts, knowledge and advice from colleagues. Thanks for the thoughtful post!

Marie Rush said...

Um. I agree. I agree about being confused, I agree about being a thinker, a risk-taker, a single human being with thoughts and opinions that are mine and mine alone (gifts, by the way), and I agree that thinking in my way should not only be accepted, but encouraged.

I agree to disagree. I agree to "listen". I agree to the concept of thinking out loud, peacefully, without judgement.

dayle, I agree.