When Social Media Becomes Internet Bullying

Maybe you’ve noticed a lot of your Facebook friends advertising their Formspring accounts lately, especially if you’re friends with high school or college students. By my [completely unresearched] estimation, they seem to be the largest demographic. If you haven’t heard of Formspring and don’t know what it’s all about, suffice it to say that it’s a social media forum through which people ask each other questions. If you’d like a more thorough description of its services, feel free to check it out.

In an age where we have so many different resources available to ask people questions, I’m not totally sure why a service like this is even necessary. If you want to know what your friend’s favorite movie is, why not just ask in person? Ask on Facebook. Ask on Twitter. Ask on AIM. Pick up the phone and call or text. This seems to be billed as a “getting-to-know-you” kind of service, allowing people to ask questions in order to, well, get to know someone better. In that respect, it seems like Internet speed-dating. Remember back in the ’90s when everyone warned us not to meet up in “real life” with anyone we met in AOL chat rooms? Then all of a sudden online dating services started encouraging us to do just that. Did people suddenly become much more honest and trustworthy? Doubtful. But I digress. Formspring also advertises this site as a way for people to ask questions of their favorite authors and celebrities (something that many of them already do on Twitter. I see public figures advertising their Twitter accounts all the time. I’ve yet to see one advertise a Formspring). Continue reading

The Fall-Back Career

Over the weekend, I was afforded the opportunity to discuss education initiatives with other educators.

Okay, I was really just talking to my friends who are also teachers, but I liked the way the first sentence made it sound like I did something important.

Anyway, as we always do, we got on the topic of education initiatives, namely that of basing teacher salary on teacher success rates. My friend made a very good point when she stated that most teachers go into teaching because they want to make a difference. Given that, it should be obvious that teachers are trying to improve test scores. What apparently escapes lawmakers’ minds is that teachers aren’t actually taking the tests for the students. We can only do so much before the students must be held accountable for their own success (gasp! What a novel concept!). I immediately agreed with her because I share a very similar sentiment. Continue reading

I’m Sorry You Majored In… (anything other than teaching)

Though I touched upon this in an earlier post, and I tried so hard not to bring this up, the abundance of snowy days this winter and the amount of whining and complaining I keep reading have driven me to feel the need to say something. First and foremost, I’m not saying any of this to be overly harsh and I’m not out to disrespect or alienate anybody. I’m also going to say right now that I’m using “you” in the most general sense because it’s easiest for my purpose. I am not yelling; I just want to make my side heard. That being said…

Look, I’ll be perfectly honest with you. I’m sorry that you weren’t an education major, but until you’ve taught for three weeks in a school, I really don’t want to hear you say snarky things like “Oh, I wish I still had snow days” or “Gee, it must be so nice to be a teacher right about now.” People like me are becoming silently infuriated at you, and my guess is that you know more than one teacher.

I’m not entirely sure where the idea got started that teachers have this luxurious, easy life. Just because when you were in school you did nothing at night, on the weekends, over holidays, and during the summer doesn’t mean that teachers follow the same schedule. In fact, many of the days the students aren’t at school, the teachers are. They’re sitting through horrible professional development seminars and in-service presentations. The funny thing is that, in many districts, they have to sit through those same things periodically during the summer.

First, Pennsylvania has a really good teacher education program that permits reciprocity in something like 35 or 38 other states. That’s why we churn teachers out of here. It’s not an easy program though, and so while many people I knew of had light semesters of 16 credits and went out drinking and partying all the time or had a lot of downtime, I can think of two semesters in my entire college career where I had 18 or fewer credits. Usually I had a course load of anywhere between 20 and 24 credits so that I could make myself as well-qualified as possible for the job I wanted. You know how your senior year spring break was so awesome because you either went on some crazy trip with your friends or you just went home and relaxed? Education majors were still at school doing their student teaching.   Continue reading