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Pennsylvania English teacher blogs about "lazy, whining students"

February 16, 2011 - Andrea Johnson
Should a teacher be fired if she writes on her personal online blog that her students are "out of control" and are "disengaged, lazy whiners" or complains about school administrators and fellow teachers?

Natalie Munroe, a 30-year-old high school English teacher in Pennsylvania, was suspended with pay last week after parents spotted her postings and complained, even though she didn't identify her school by name and only used her first name and last initial on the blog.

"My students are out of control," Munroe, who has taught 10th, 11th and 12th grades, wrote in one post. "They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners. They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying." In another post, quoting from the musical "Bye Bye Birdie," she wrote: "Kids! They are disobedient, disrespectful oafs. Noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy LOAFERS." She also listed some comments she wished she could post on student evaluations, including: "I hear the trash company is hiring"; "I called out sick a couple of days just to avoid your son"; and "Just as bad as his sibling. Don't you know how to raise kids?" In an interview with the Associated Press, Munroe elaborated on her complaints, claiming that her students get angry when she asks them to think or be creative and are not being held accountable for their actions.

I'm sure that Munroe didn't say anything that other teachers at the school haven't said privately to their friends and family. I would lay odds that what she said and wrote is probably true, at least about a lot of her students. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in one of her classes. I wonder if her students' complaints included any of the gems that I heard when I was in high school, such as "This isn't even in English," while reading "Macbeth" or "It's not like we're ever going to USE this" or "Nobody except an English teacher is going to care if I spell/punctuate/write a complete sentence."

The conversations Munroe probably overheard likely included discussions about the drinking they did on Friday and Saturday night and who hooked up with who, among other typical teen conversations. I'd guess she also contended with kids texting each other in class and maybe with students turning in their essays in text-message speak. Seeing "U" when the student means "you" or "2" when the student means "to" might drive me to an online rant too.

On the other hand, teachers should expect that sort of behavior from adolescents. It's the nature of the age. Teenagers are exasperating one moment and can act grown-up, sensitive and insightful the next. Munroe's job as a teacher is to help guide the students in her classroom to learn and understand the material and to help them on their journey to adulthood. Munroe comes across as burned out as well as exasperated with her undoubtedly exasperating students. If she doesn't have the patience anymore, she should probably look into another profession.


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