A moral dilemma and its solution.

31 08 2006

I have one English class in which virtually every student reads this blog. This has become a recent fascination with them and daily they report to me that they read my blog and bombard me with questions about the veracity of my stories.

“I read your blog last night. Is that true about that guy and the tongue in the bar? That’s gross!”

“We read your blog during computer class. I know why you taught that silent class–you had a hangover.”

“Hey Ms. Coggio, did you really ask that question about sleeping with a family member when you were drinking caipirinhas with your friends?”

They are also huge fans of Dennis.  They come to his defense whenever I write about kissing or about a guy liking my butt. “I’m going to tell Dennis that you’re cheating on him,” one girl said to me the other day. Today, for instance, after reading the post about how Dennis said he would make me a t-shirt with the “Watch It” slogan, my kids presented me with a gift after class, in a homemade envelope, stapled and taped together. “Oh, Jesus,” I said under my breath, knowing it would be something sarcastic and funny:

So this is what they gave me:
What the kids gave me.

This is what it was:
Watch It (Your Balls)

And this is what they did to me after I opened it:
(they're real, too.)

I cracked up laughing and told them I would give it to Dennis when I go home this weekend. I think I really like 7th graders because they’re just discovering their sense of sarcasm and prankster qualities. I love it. Sometimes it gets a little out of control and roping them back in takes a little more energy than I’d like to invest, but, if I can have moments like this, it’s worth it.

Anyway, so about the truth of my stories…I tell my students that of course the blog entries are true: I don’t lie when I write. So now that they read this religiously (for this week, anyway) I’m kind of screwed. I can’t write what I want to about them. I’ve been fretting this all week, which is why I didn’t write anything yesterday. If I know they read this, will I be able to write fairly and honestly about my experiences here at school?

And I have come to this conclusion, which should satisfy all parties concerned:

Dear Students, my sweet, intelligent, and funny 7th graders,

I know you are reading this, so listen carefully. As a writer, I have a responsibility to stand by my words and be honest. As a teacher, I have a responsibility to set a good example for those whom I teach. The best way I know how to fulfill both of these responsibilities is to write honestly and openly about my experiences at school. Sometimes I will write about you. And sometimes you won’t like to hear what I have to say. And sometimes you will really like to hear what I have to say. But the fact of the matter is, I have to write. Not to write about you would be a half truth; it would be dishonest, because frankly, you are the reason I am down here in Brazil in the first place. I also want to set an example for you by showing you how to be an honest writer and how to take risks in the kinds of writing you can do. I won’t use your names in my blogs because I don’t want to expose you (to each other or to the world), and I won’t show pictures of you on this blog because it could be dangerous. (Lots of sickos out there.)
However, if I am writing about you, I think it’s only fair for you to be able to respond. So when you feel inspired, and when you have something *relevant* to say, you can leave comments about what you read here on the blog. I think it would be interesting for the rest of the world to find out what you think about what we are doing in class or what our 7th grade is like. (But about the caipirinhas?…don’t judge.) And remember: if you choose to leave a comment, you have to be sure about your spelling (unlike in the picture…”watch” is not spelled with two h’s…ahem…). You should show the world that you are careful about what you write, so WATCH your English!

Sound good?

Love, Ms. Coggio
The Best English Teacher in the World.


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31 08 2006
Dennis

I love those kids.

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