Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Too Personal?

Stealing the idea from Blogger tag, I asked my first hour class last night to post a comment to the class blog in which they named five things about themselves that they wanted the class to know. I set an example by doing it myself first, and here's what I posted:

1. I am a terrible sport and throw a fit when I lose--especially when it comes to board and card games.
2. I hate it when people crack their knuckles or burp in public. It's disgusting.
3. I like to watch one rerun of "Scrubs" before going to bed because I find it relaxing.
4. Sometimes I'd rather curl up in bed and read a book than go out and socialize. I would have never admitted this in high school because I used to think that it made me a dork. Now I'm automatically a dork because I'm old and a teacher, so I don't really care.
5. My mother is very, very sick, and I get upset about it everytime I'm in my car by myself.

I have to admit that it felt cathartic to get this stuff out there--especially number 5. I think that my students must have felt the same way because their posts were intensely personal. I found out that one of my students had colon cancer, while another has a father in jail, another had a friend who was raped, and someone else had a drinking problem, and about 100% of the girls in my class obsess over whether they're too fat or too thin, and fun things, too--one girl is a double-dutch expert, while another guy sleepwalks, and someone else has a true phobia of fish, and someone else wants to be a country singer, and nobody wants to be judged, and nobody likes a fake.

When I read their posts last night for the first time, little alarm bells starting ringing in my head. What if their parents read their blogs? Well, so what if their parents read their blogs? Is this my students' passive aggressive way of letting the world know that these kinds of issues need some adult attention? But what if some pedophile reads these blogs and takes advantage of the situation? What have I just invited in?

The idea behind this activity was to get my class to get to know each other, respect each other, and to inspire each other with the next piece of personal writing we're working on. As far as the class goes, I'm thrilled that they want to be honest with each other. The blog seemed like the ideal medium to get the ball rolling--it offers a much larger comfort zone than does class discussion, but unlike an essay, it's interactive. However, I'm toying with the idea of deleting the post (along with their comments) at the end of the week. After all, it's served its purpose. Why leave the door to our little classroom with all of our private battles open to the world?

Any advice/opinions?