Setting Boundaries

My new boss took me for coffee this morning, and we continued a conversation we began this summer about blogging.  Specifically, about this blog.  A few of my new colleagues took me at my word, and visited this site over the summer.  They expressed their interests, and their concerns, to my head of school.  Most were positive about what I was doing, but they had some concerns. They reminded him that this is a much smaller community, with a much more technologically-savvy group of teachers, and a much more technically-aware-and-engaged student body. And more savvy parents when it comes to Internet searches.

My head made two decisions.  The first was that he wasn’t going to visit the blog, so he didn’t have to comment on it officially to me.  The second was, that he would take me aside, and let me know that I should think about developing some guidelines about what was fair game to talk about here, and what wasn’t, in the context of joining a new community.

I think he’s right on both counts. When he needs to visit and comment officially, it’s probably a sign that something has gone wrong.  On the other hand, I do need to think carefully about what I write publicly as I join a new community.  Over time, I can widen these initial guidelines, but I do need some specific strategies for handling a new school’s concerns and plans.

Accordingly, I’m setting the following guidelines. Here are the DON’Ts.

  1. No specific conversations with parents, students, or colleagues/administrators (often the same thing here).
  2. No issues with my school’s policies.
  3. No photographs of my school, students or colleagues.

What does that leave?  The DOs:

  1. Specific teaching, learning, projects and programs in my classroom;
  2. My real or perceived insights into teaching;
  3. Perceived differences/similarities between independent and public schools;
  4. Perceived differences between boarding and day schools;
  5. Commentary on regional or national education news;
  6. Commentary on technology in the classroom;
  7. Success & failure of left brain / right brain training in class
  8. Personal professional successes and failures

What do you think I’m leaving out?  Should I alter this list further?  What DON’Ts and DOs did I miss that you think are important?

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  1. Once you step away from the technology you can see that your boundaries are solid ones that teachers have recognized for years. It used to just be the DOs and DON’Ts of chats you might have with people while you wait in line at the post office or other informal gatherings. Blogs and social media make some administrators nervous (see today’s story: but, used properly, it’s a powerful way to reflect and share. I’m glad you worked this out with your new school, and I look forward to reading you more in the future.

    • Blogs certainly make administrators nervous. I think my head of school was very good about not shutting me down, but also being clear about what he didn’t want to see on this website.

  2. Watt,
    I work at a private college; though i hardly ever write about my experiences, i am always careful to respect the aims and practices of the school. At the end of the day, I am their employee, and as such i always try to represent the school to the best of my abilities. I am sure this will not be different for you.
    I think, with arguseyes directed at your blog, abstractions and hypotheticals could serve you well.
    Be well.

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