Natalie Munroe: A Tale of a Teacher in a Digital Age
But back in Bucks, students blogged and vlogged and texted and tweeted a different story. They held a pep rally, which they filmed and posted on YouTube. They commented on pro- and anti-Natalie Facebook pages that popped up, and for a group that felt so maligned by how they were characterized online, students were even more vulgar in their posts:
… Natalie Munroe is a sexually frustrated cunt whos going through menopause and is throwing a huge bitch fliip and is causing more problems than the holocaust.
While everyone tapped away at their keyboards, the scandal at Central Bucks East—the ninth-highest-performing high school in the state, with SAT scores 209 points above the national average—had already evolved into a sign-of-the-times saga. But neither the players nor the gawkers could agree on what, exactly, that sign was: Bad, burned-out teachers? Coddling school administrators? Entitled kids? Enabling parents?
It might have been all of that, but maybe more than anything, the troubling issue was watching what happens when private thoughts become public. After all, Munroe wasn’t the first teacher in history to think unkind things about her students, and she wasn’t the first teacher to vent to friends about those feelings. But she was operating in the world of new media, where modern-day sounding boards aren’t just teachers’ lounges, but Blogger, Facebook and Twitter.
And that changed all the rules.
MUNROE LOVED TEACHING. It wasn’t always easy for her to get up there in front of a class; she’d never liked being the center of attention. But she relished all the behind-the-scenes planning—from picking out bulletin-board borders at the teachers’ store to figuring out cool ways to teach tough subjects. She blogged about that stuff, too—the good things, like how pumped she felt when a concept clicked with the kids.
“They come up with an idea and you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh … yes!’” she says. “And you’re so proud to be part of that.”
Of the 84 posts she’d written since she started blogging in August 2009, only 24 had anything to do with school. The rest involved muffin recipes, Gerard Butler, the Diaper Genie—general life stuff. And that, really, was the whole reason she’d started blogging in the first place.
A friend had prodded her into it as a way to keep in touch. Plus, the friend knew that Munroe loved to write. In fact, after earning an English degree from Rosemont in 2003, she thought of trying book publishing but quickly realized she was far more passionate about The Canterbury Tales than about permissions. She shouldn’t have been surprised—she came from a family of teachers: her mom, her uncle, her aunt. Teaching was in her blood. After getting a master’s in education from Arcadia and student-teaching at Council Rock South, she landed a job at East in 2006, psyched to finally have a classroom of her own.