Monday, September 27, 2010

Audiences (Or, That spotlight in my face is blinding me)

Despite my best intentions to keep blogging once school(s) started, it's now been almost a month since I wrote anything here.

The reasons are two-fold:

  1. Between student teaching and taking many classes and trying to take some occasional down-time with my husband / friends / family there have been very few free, waking minutes. (The observant may notice that the time stamp as I started this post was 1:20 a.m. and I'm not yet done with the paper I'm supposed to be finishing tonight.)
  2. Moving into the student teaching environment has made me think more about audiences, paranoia, and transparency.

I think I could get over #1 at least occasionally (the procrastination is strong with this one, I hear Yoda say in the background) if I worked my way through #2 a bit more.

This summer, it was fairly clear who I was writing for: myself, my classmates, a few professors, maybe a few edu-bloggers or edu-twitterers, and any of my friends from my prior lives who saw me post the new url on facebook or twitter.

Now, I'm student teaching at an awesome school with awesome students, parents, teachers, and administrators, and they've all made me start thinking about how not-very-anonymous this blog is (by design) and whether and how being open about my thoughts and experiences might impact any of those parties at my student teaching school or during future job searches and (hopefully) working at future schools.

A more forward-thinking person might have sorted this out a bit sooner, but it all seemed a lot more abstract in mid-August before any of those people had faces and names.

So, things that are self-evidently clear to me (axioms, as we would say in the geometry class I'm taking):

  1. My students, their parents, and the staff at my student-teaching school have some fairly strong and reasonable expectation of privacy. No real names or identifying descriptors of people or events should be used.
  2. I should assume that any of those people can (and may already have -- hi!) find this blog and read it in its entirety at any time.

Things that are less clear to me:

  1. What is okay to discuss here? Presumably things I'm learning about in class at the university. Presumably thoughts and reactions to public events (education policy and news).
  2. What about carefully anonymized and abstracted dilemmas that occur in student teaching? For example, a hypothetical parent who hypothetically sends my mentor teacher some very polite questions about whether our Earth Science class is pushing a social agenda as we teach our students about early environmental science or the history of the earth. Presumably not the details of the resulting exchanges between the teacher and the parent. But maybe my thoughts on how I might want to address such situations in my own classroom in the future?
  3. How much of a filter should I have in anticipation of future hiring committees? I can easily imagine finding myself ideologically out of step with just about anyone, if for no other reason than the fact that my internal drummer has some very complex, not easily categorized rhythms going on. Also, I'm still working out who might be offended by what in this strange new world of education. Does that mean I should take the cautious path, and shy away from anything that could be controversial? Like say the whole teacher assessment debate in LA that I wrote several entries on in August? Or should I try to get comfortable with the fact that as long as I'm polite and respectful of other opinions, I might as well be honest and transparent on my thinking here and assume that if a future hiring committee is scared away then we'll just have saved each other a lot of time?

Your thoughts are welcome on any of these questions. I'll keep thinking about them too and report back when I come to any internal consensus on any of them. In the meantime, back to that paper!


  1. Re: carefully anonymized and abstracted dilemmas

    I'd recommend writing it up, but wait to put it up for a month or two. You'll still get to talk about it, but should the hypothetical subjects stumble upon it, it a) is less likely to trigger a strong reaction, and b) gives plausible deniability: "You think this is about you? But that was _months_ ago!".

  2. Ah, I was wondering what had happened to you.

    Obviously, no details about your students or where you work, including pictures. But I didn't see anything wrong with your whole following of the LAUSD thing, a lot of the things you post about it seems you're trying to figure out, it doesn't seem that you're trying to push an agenda (but what do I know, I am also probably biased).

    The comment about waiting months to write about something sensitive might be a good idea, time gives distance.