Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Openness

by AJ

Blogging got me into big trouble at my last job. The bureaucrats (and other teachers) got wind of this blog, scoured the archives, and were enraged. Some chose to take personal offense from various posts (though I strictly avoid directly criticizing people at my job). Others decided I was "corrupting students" by airing my thoughts, ideas, challenges, and frustrations. I was scolded for being "negative". My students were interrogated by administrators.

In the wake of these events, I received a lot of advice. Some people scolded me for being so honest and direct. "What did you expect", they said. Others criticized me for using my real name.... telling me I was stupid not to write under a fake one. Some folks agreed with the bureaucrats... that I was (and still am, presumably) a corrupting thought-criminal who should be silenced. One guy repeatedly posted adolescent insults as comments.

I gave each of these comments the thought I felt they deserved, but decided,.. in the end.. to continue writing under my own name. I also decided not to self-censor.... not to sugar coat my thoughts. Might I get "in trouble" again. Sure.

But thats a smart risk to take. Blogging openly has many benefits. The first is that it improves my teaching. By presenting the good, the bad, the ugly, the great, and the stupid Im able to evolve my thoughts more quickly. By using my own name & situation, readers can evaluate what I write in context.

But the best benefit for me is that openness allows my students, former students, and other peers to view my ideas openly. They therefore gain a better understanding of what I hope to do and why Im doing it. I dont have time to discuss this everyday in class.... but through this blog Im able to put it all out there for anyone to read.

I also prefer not to hide this blog from employers. After failed attempts at "stealth", Ive decided on a better strategy- directness. Ive realized I dont want to work for a school that cant handle open communication. I dont want to work for a school that stifles innovation. I dont want to work for a school that cant handle disagreement or dissent.

And so, when I apply for jobs, I still include this blog's address. Contrary to what the devil's advocates have said... Ive found this to be a powerful selling point in my favor. After all, this blog communicates my teaching style (and principles) far more extensively than any interview could.

And so I encourage other teacher-bloggers to embrace openness. In the long run, I believe its a healthier strategy.. and a better career move to boot.

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