The Cobbler looked me over, and, with apocalyptic undertones, said:

We, the department, are aware that you’re blogging.

My lungs but collapsed, even though I had no earthly reason to be worried. What had I written that could get anyone in trouble? If I ever write about the department, here, I’m complimentary more often than not. Then, I remembered.

Earlier that day, another teacher told me he had found my blog — how did you like it? What did you think of it? — and had recognized himself in one of the entries. How ’bout that?

Apparently, there was trouble. Months ago, I had quoted him on mentioning how much bullshit BTSA is, and he could tell who he was. I agreed to change every recognizable feature mentioned in the blog except his gender — I’m not that good, whatever “Mr.” Mercer has to say about it — and I agreed to do so without banter or argument. I’d rather not make enemies out of these people, if only out of self-preservation.

There’s a lot more to it than that, of course, though it should without saying.

That I had a blog shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone — I told my master teacher often enough and early enough this semester. It should have been no secret around the department, either. Multiple teachers had seen me log on to the blog during lunch or my prep periods.

Moreover: Everything is anonymous. No Internet third party without a first-hand knowledge of both me and my school could figure out which teacher is which. Naturally, that assumes that the third party could figure out which district or even region of California I blog from.

The Cobbler returned me to reality, having continued talking during that interlude.

… now we’re not telling you to stop, because First-Amendment freedom of speech and all of that.

I interjected: But I kept it anonymous.

But I could tell who it was. Everyone who read it could tell who it was. That doesn’t matter. Now, I don’t know if he’s beyond the firing date or not …

He said, to emphasize that he had, in fact, read the entry in question.

… and that’s not the point, either.

He went on to hit the same notes of collaboration, trust and openness in my textbooks, the same notes to which I’ve heard every adminstrator at least pays lip service. The Cobbler added that I shouldn’t be burning bridges by writing about anything that someone had told me in confidence — for the record, I didn’t have that impression — and that this would count as a betrayal of trust within the department.

His chiding then made a sharp left turn, back into “what this is really about” territory.

More tomorrow.

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  1. Looking forward to hear more about it. Good luck. Maybe they are only mad because you are such a good writer and do such a good job making the posts interesting and worthwhile.

  2. For a second…stop and look at your blogging about them through their eyes and how they feel about it and why they feel the way they do. Not how you think they should view this, but how they actually do. Then ask yourself if you care about what they think. Then decide what to write next.

    I stick around here because I notice a lot of similarities between what you are writing and what I used to think. Before blogs, I used to publish an anonymous satirical newsletter at my school about staff members. At the time I could not understand the reaction — it made no sense at all to me. Today I see it as one of the most regrettable short sighted things I ever did. Not that the newsletter and your blog are the same, but when I was publishing it I only saw it through my eyes, not through the eyes of the people that were offended by it–people I cared about.

    Changing what you wrote or deciding not to write something should not be out of “self-preservation,” but out of respect for the other folks.

    It’s not about a distant “third party” finding out about what is being written on your blog, it is about the people next to you–would you say it to their face. Would you have a conversation with someone and then turn to another person and repeat the conversation with the first person right there. It is not about what you are saying, but how you are saying it. I really do not think that it has anything to do with the age of the teachers or any kind of anti-blogging sentiment.

    Final test — If you don’t have a problem with what you are writing print the last four posts and leave them on the staff lounge tables.

    You sick of me yet?

  3. Mr. Jones: It’s more than that.

    Mr. Bogush: I didn’t consider any of what I wrote offensive, and, given what I know of our principal, I don’t think he’d disagree.

    Changing what you wrote or deciding not to write something should not be out of “self-preservation,” but out of respect for the other folks.

    It was out of respect — “self preservation” is idiom.

    Note, also: On the blog entry in question, I didn’t insult or mischaracterize or demean the staff member in question. It most certainly wasn’t libelous, either. I simply quoted him on a common sentiment, a sentiment shared by, apparently, every staff member at my school.

    Now, while I would say to the face of every teacher at my school exactly what I write on this blog, I’m not going to tempt fate by making them accessible to administrators, daily. I’m not on-staff, there.

  4. Ok, take this for what it’s worth, but I blogged about this back in January when I was trying to decided whether to blog anonymously or under my real name – I chose my real name, by the way. I’d seriously recommend reading the book “A Blogger’s Manifesto” by Erik Ringmar. Here’s where I posted about it – http://www.katesays.org/2008/01/29/im-not-anonymous/

    Good luck with this situation, it’s a tough one.

  5. “It’s not about a distant “third party” finding out about what is being written on your blog, it is about the people next to you–would you say it to their face.”

    Again, I think I tend to agree. You might think you would say it, but how would the manner in which you say it change if there were eyes staring back at you, rather than a computer screen with more anonymous words for feedback?

    I remember reading Kate’s posts in January. I’m interested to know how you handle the situation. I am kind of at a crossroads myself–do I even start on this road?

  6. Ms. Olson: Thanks; I’ll read it.

    Ms. Jae: As a fan of confrontation, I would say it to their face. Were I a cussing man.

    I don’t think he had an issue with my sentiment — there was none — and I don’t think he had an issue with how I quoted him, either. Specifically, he asked that I remove a few descriptions of the status of his career. I did, and for the right reasons.

    Now, he told it to me to begin with, and I didn’t misrepresent or criticize his assessment of BTSA. This was all a matter of mistaken identity — intentifying him, rather than nobody.

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