Thursday, December 11, 2014

"Anonymous" Teachers

I follow a LOT of teacher blogs, and a LOT of teachers on Twitter, and it's interesting to look at the differences between the ones that are "anonymous" and those that choose to reveal their identities.

Going all in is risky business, so props to those of you who take that full on. All it takes is for one parent/community member/school board member/whathaveyou to take issue with something you post, and it may very well be career-ending. Going "anonymous" gives you a little more freedom, especially when you need to share a less than sunshiney story about your classroom.

I keep placing "anonymous" in quotes because hopefully we all realize that there is no such thing on the web. Sure, I do all of the common sense things - don't give my full name (or use students' real names), edit my name and face out of pictures, edit students' faces out of pictures, so on and so forth. But, realistically, if someone really wanted to, they could find the real me.

And sometimes being the small world that it is people just stumble onto you. I've had people who have subbed for me find this blog ("I recognize those monkeys! And the stencils on that wall!"); I've had students say "Hey, I saw folder holders that looked exactly like these on Pinterest !" (though luckily they didn't follow the pin to my blog); it even turns out that my current boss's sister is a FACS teacher who reads this blog. And I know that this doesn't just happen to me - one of my favorite blog posts this year was when two bloggers I follow met serendipitously at JCrew - Sneaker Teacher and Roxanne from Books That Heal Kids.

We should all be careful, whether using legit names or not. At the same time, there are several posts and tweets (tweets especially) I read every week that are absolutely laugh out loud hilarious, but things you would NEVER say if your real name was attached to it. We all need people to be that brutally honest at times, because teaching is not all rainbows and kittens. It is hard. It is frustrating. It is overwhelming. And heartbreaking, and maddening, and infuriating. And the only people who get wanting to pull-your-hair-out-and-scream-and-cry-but-you're-too-exhausted-so-you'll-just-slink-away-and-find-an-alternative-to-the-copy-machine are others who have experienced the same thing. And the only people who get why you're so excited in August after what happened last year are others who have experienced the same thing. And the only people who get how much you still love that kid six and a half years later after he lifted a ball of yarn from your classroom and weaved it up and down the staircase blocking everyone and creating a total fire hazard are others who have experienced the same thing. And the only people who get how sad you still are five years later that that same kid didn't survive that car accident are others who have experienced the same thing.

So "anonymous" or not, do protect yourself, but do continue to share what's real - the good and sometimes also the bad. We all need to know that there are others out there who get it.


  1. As one of those "anonymous" bloggers, I know it's still hugely important to be careful with what I put online. One of my former students found my blog once, thankfully she was nice enough to keep it between us. I tell my kids all the time that they have to be cognizant about what they post online, because some of them have gotten in huge trouble (like, lawsuit trouble). They think that they're protected by free speech and the power of the internet, which is ridiculous.

  2. I tried very hard for a long time to be an "anonymous" teacher blogger. I am still afraid that someone will come across my blog and think something is inappropriate or negative. At some point I gave up on being anonymous ( I think because even with my sneakerteacher email account my real name is shown when I respond to people). Recently a parent at my school told me she "came across" my teacher blog and I was so embarrassed at first. Then I realized that I don't post anything negative or ranty and I just talk about what I do. Maybe at times it's a bit too much of my personal life that I wouldn't necessarily want my students' parents reading, but this was a parent whose child I taught a few years back. It's a really hard choice, but once you're "out" that's it, right? In February I am actually attending a blogger meet up at a Kindergarten teacher conference in California. I hope that reinvigorates my love of blogging because I haven't posted much at all since school started.