Natalie Munroe: A Tale of a Teacher in a Digital Age

The Central Bucks East teacher who was suspended for blogging about her students is trying to change education—one blog post at a time

Support from teachers around the country poured in: “There should be more teachers like you,” “You are my new hero,” “I … hope the ‘parents’ of those … problem kids get their act together and apologize to YOU!”—all in the 646 comments written in response to her blog. Her new blog, that is. Because three days after being suspended, Munroe did a very strange—or very strategic—thing: She started blogging again. This time, though, she had an agenda.- On her new site at Nataliemunroe.com, she composed her first post: “Bloggate—Day 1: The Scandal Begins.”

“There are serious problems with our education system today,” she wrote, “with the way that schools and school districts and students and parents take teachers who enter the education field full of life and hope and a desire to change the world and positively impact kids, and beat the life out of them and villainize them and blame them for everything—and those need to be brought to light. If this ‘scandal’ opens the door for that conversation, so be it.

“Let that conversation begin,” she typed. “Stay tuned here.”

WHEN EAST TEACHERS got wind that their scorned colleague had positioned herself as an education reformer, any sympathy for her disappeared.

“People got pretty disgusted,” says one teacher. Munroe had never been particularly popular; some thought she was arrogant and a complainer, with a wicked sharp tongue. She often ate lunch alone.

After her suspension, teachers worried that the media would spin the incident as a story about how terrible teachers are. When it became about how terrible kids are, many were flabbergasted.

“The kids at East are honestly the most compliant, respectful kids I’ve ever worked with,” says the teacher. “It’s really easy to say, ‘Kids are so rotten.’ I think it’s a shame; when we want to scapegoat why schools aren’t what they should be, we pick on people who have the least responsibility.” And of course, the students took it personally, as teenagers are developmentally wired to do, utterly convinced the entire world was calling them horrible people.

“These people were taking the side of someone who they never met, and trashing students they had never met,” says East sophomore Matt Eisenberg. “We were getting bummed out.”

But no matter how smart the kids were, or how many pep rallies they held, anyone in the world with Web access could argue that the students had already more than validated the things Munroe had written.

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  • Tad

    Ready for a brave, new, and wildly unique teacher’s journal? One that’s deeply thoughtful, literate, and downright funny? Then enjoy A Dixie Diary, at http://www.adixiediary.com.

    The response from readers all over the world has been astonishing. Actually debuting during the midst of the Natalie Munroe business, this unique online journal shows a different look at what happens in the schoolhouse by a rookie special education teacher who loves his work and his students, but he expresses his thoughts and observations in a hugely different way than Mrs. Munroe. Sure, there are some intense student-teacher moments, even some choice words, too, but mostly it’s world-class hilarious and heartwarming … like reading a good book.

    It’s the look at a teacher’s madcap classroom world we’ve been waiting for. It’s simply mesmerizing.

  • Mary

    Most teachers encounter resistance from students, whether it’s apathy or obstinance, whether it’s done publicly or privately. Most teachers have sounding boards to vent frustrations to: spouses, co

  • Jeff

    Natalie Munroe displayed disastrously poor judgment, gross immaturity and–perhaps most damning–a startlingly low level of web-savviness. (Teachers should know at least as much as their students do.) By the time this is all over, she’s likely to have become an expert in only one thing: the laws governing libel and invasion of privacy.

  • Frank

    Your comment is one of a knee jerk reaction to a limited amount of information. Did you read the original blog? How can someone be held accountable for “libel, invasion of pri” when NO NAMES were mentioned, NO SCHOOL was mentioned, and it was ANONYMOUS! Get your facts straight!

  • Frank

    Your comment is one of a knee jerk reaction to a limited amount of information. Did you read the original blog? How can someone be held accountable for “libel, invasion of pri” when NO NAMES were mentioned, NO SCHOOL was mentioned, and it was ANONYMOUS! Get your facts straight!

  • Jeff

    It does not matter whether specific names were mentioned. What matters is that the targets of her vitriol were easily identifiable. Everyone in the school quickly knew who she was talking about. Not naming names is no protection.

  • Jeff

    Read this all the way through: http://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/liability/defamation. “To state a defamation claim, the person claiming defamation need not be mentioned by name—the plaintiff only needs to be reasonably identifiable.”

  • Jeff

    Go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation Web site. Search for: Online Defamation Law

  • Jennifer

    It’s a shame, since she posted this, the only thing she should be punished for is admitting she posted one of her blogs online at school. Otherwise, she is no more at fault than the children. This

  • Jennifer

    students referred to her as comparable to the holocaust…watching your parents and siblings being slaughtered in front of you? really? Grow up. This is our future, maybe in a few weeks? What a sc

  • teddy

    cant believe we cant read the blogs?