Parent Blogger Obligation

This week I attended my oldest son’s parent preview night at school. It was a great chance to let my son meet his teacher in person as well as tour his new school. As we walked through the halls locating the gym, the classroom and the bathrooms, I could see the anxiety and excitement in my son’s eyes. While talking with his soon to be 1st grade teacher she told my son Tanner that she was using a Super Hero theme in the classroom this coming year. Obviously, this was good news to me and I even sent the following tweet out.

A friend/colleague on twitter made a comment about how “lucky” this teacher was to have me live tweeting the preview night. I didn't think much of my tweet but have since starting wondering about where that line is between being a blogger/tweeter and a parent. Yes, I open the doors to my classroom and share it with the world as often as I can. However, what is my responsibility to open the doors of my children’s classrooms? Do I have a right to share what is happening to them at the expense it may celebrate or condemn things a teacher is doing they might not want to be shared?

As a blogger, do I need to be mindful of what I am sharing from my experiences as a parent? On one hand I see the need to share these stories so others can learn from them. My intent would never be to embarrass or publicly shame a teacher. However, if there are “bad” things happening, should I share in order for others to hopefully learn from my experiences? Do I have that right? If we don’t share these moments from the parental standpoint are we neglecting a great opportunity to learn and grow? I am honestly not sure what the answer is and am wondering if any of my readers have been in similar situations. 


Dave Guymon said...

Interesting dilemma. I have not thought about the issue of teacher privacy. Would I be comfortable having parents tweet/blog about my classroom without me knowing about it? I don't have anything in my classroom that I would be ashamed of. However, it would be startling to discover that the fidelity of my classroom privacy was compromised. I'm not sure what my expectations are. This is a great dialogue starter though.

William Chamberlain said...

What happens in the classroom should not stay in the classroom. Do we really think there is an expectation of privacy in a public school? (Of course I am biased since I live stream my classroom.)

The fact that you had to take a step back and think about the issue shows how backward our attitudes are about school. If we had a more open dialogue we would all benefit, especially the students.

I would love having others share what we are doing in my classroom, especially a parent. I wouldn't even mind the constructive criticism if it led to my practice improving.

I would be pretty suspicious of any professional teacher that would want to hide what he/she is doing in the classroom.

Josh Stumpenhorst said...


As always, thanks for the comments and thoughts. I guess I was thinking along the lines of should I be sharing something in a public space or in private with the teacher. From a teacher's perspective, I would love parents to challenge me but wonder where that line is. When should something be taken to a blog post or taken to the teacher themselves for a discussion? Should I give the teacher a heads up that I do blog/tweet about my children's experiences?

Russ Goerend said...

I don't know if he came up with it but Doug Johnson talks about "complain global, praise local." (See: as an example)

Maybe the reverse is true in this instance: praise (your child's classroom experiences) globally, and "complain" locally (privately, to your child's teacher).

If you're excited about the learning going on in your child's classroom, I see nothing wrong with sharing that with the world. You don't need the full context before you can give a teacher public praise.

On the other hand, any complaining about a specific classroom/school situation, should be done privately. Always. We have to be diligent about learning the full context before complaining. That's the least I'd expect from my students' parents before complaining about me on Facebook/Twitter. Come talk to me.

Praise away, Josh.

Brandt Schneider said...

I do know that facebook posting/rumors/thoughts is going on all the time. I don't like that. And of course, the grocery store gossip, etc...

If you were a reporter for the local TV station would you feel comfortable talking about the class on air? I'm not sure your twitter feed or blog post is too different.

I think a nice conversation with the teacher would be really appropriate "hey, i've got this blog and sometimes I write about...."

Sheila Stewart said...

I think Russ has offered some good guidance and advice...but if you learn and confirm that the teacher feels the way William does, then you might consider a different approach.

Maybe this thought/question will help as well: Is it more okay for a parent who is also a teacher to blog about their child's class experiences compared to a parent who is not?

Enjoyed reading the post, questions raised, and the comments!

Tony Baldasaro said...

Josh, I have wrestled with the same dilemma myself and in fact, have written a blog post or two about my children's classrooms (with some regret). I think you need to keep in mind two things: 1. you should always be an advocate for your children. 2. You should always respect the professionalism of your child's teacher. While I agree with Will's comments above, I do think we need to respect the work that all teachers are doing in trying to move their practice forward, even if some are doing so at a slower pace than others.

So, it's a balancing act for sure. What I try to remember is that school and the teacher are just a small part of my children's learning. It may be the most formal part, but there is a lot of learning that takes place the other 18 a day as well and part of my responsibility as a parent to help capture those.

William Chamberlain said...

Just another quick thought, education really isn't about the teacher. It may be hard to separate our ego from our work, but we have to be willing to do that if want to grow.

At some point we need to quit worrying about adult egos and remember who we are supposed to be focusing on.

Kathy Melton said...

As an administrator in the district where my children attend, I find myself in a tricky situation in this regard. There are numerous benefits to my family that come from me working so close to home v. an hour away. A challenge, though, is balancing advocating for them as their mother with my role as a district principal. I have a responsibility to positively promote my school district, so I don't typically publicly post challenges or concerns related back to their teachers or school. That said, my PLN has connected me with people I can check in with privately to talk through some that inevitably arise.

This post prompted me to think back to early Spring last year when I was your son’s principal and more of a lurker on Twitter. I remember scrolling down and seeing your Tweet about a concern with cafeteria procedures, and, admittedly, I was a bit taken aback; this was probably heightened because we knew each other before I was in that role. I think my uneasiness at that time was more of concern that you publicly shared a concern that you hadn’t talked to me about than out of you simply publicly sharing a concern. I appreciated being able to have a candid conversation about that and the root cafeteria issue, and I definitely respected your right to reach out to your PLN for feedback. I never felt as if you intended to “call anyone out” or point fingers. As a principal, though, I want to know when there is an area in which we can do better or an area that hasn’t been accurately communicated; I would hope my principal colleagues would want that, too. Likewise, I appreciated you sharing your positive experiences and compliments along the way; I believe that would be the case with your Preview Night experience at his current school, too! While it is tough to generalize, I would think it a general rule to check in with the teacher or admin on an issue if you are “going public”… not to “seek permission” or even say that you are going public but to open up the dialogue that will better the situation itself.

Anonymous said...

When I read this blog, the first thing I thought of was Facebook. I have seen parents complain about their children’s teachers on Facebook, and I was horrified. I wondered if they had even approached the teacher to discuss the problem first. I do not agree that parents should blog about the “complaints” they have about their children’s teachers. In all fairness, I think the problem should be worked out privately with the teacher and school and not publicly. It is important to learn and grow, but I think it should be done anonymously if it is going to be public. The book, “What Great Teachers Do Differently” is a helpful book which anonymously discusses what great teachers and not-so-great teachers do. As for praise, I think it is wonderful to see good things being said and praise being given publicly. However, I think it is a good idea to give the teacher a heads-up about a blog site and ask first if they mind being praised publicly. Tanner’s first-grade teacher sounds wonderful, and hopefully she felt honored by your praise.

parent and teacher said...

Sending complain to parents via facebook or twitter can be a dilemma. For teachers, I think it is better to talk personally to our students' parents because it gives more privacy. when we talk to parents via social media about their child, most parents do not like to mention bad opinion of thier child.
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