Saturday, 22 October 2011

#talktoteens talking no more

Teachers are stereotypically boring. Are we agreed on that? In books and films they're either female, skinny, tartan skirt, brown cardigan, glasses, and a low brown haired ponytail (usually fastened with a massive brown clip bought from the local christmas market), or male, overweight, glasses, BO, greasy curls with a bald patch on top, trousers up to his manboobs and flashing some ankle.

Of course, I'm not talking about every teacher going, and if you're reading this and are thinking of going into teaching, for the love of Pete don't let it put you off. Just read this, digest, take note, and be more determined than ever to be like Charlotte Berry, aka, @talktoteens.

When I first started talking to Ms Berry, as I call her, I never realised she was a teacher, let alone a teacher at the school down the road. We'd discuss my blog posts, TV, news, and whatever other random rubbish I was yabbering on about. She was hilarious, and part of my 'twitter family'. Then she became more to me. Even though I wasn't a student of hers, she helped me with my A Level Media coursework. Did you get that? 'I wasn't a student of hers'. I'm at a rivaling school. She was still helping me. Even then, she was stretching the boundaries of a teacher.

I soon realised that Ms Berry wasn't your generic "Tuck your shirt in." "I want silence." "1000 words due tomorrow." type of teacher. She wasn't a teacher at all, in fact. She was a inspirational woman who, ironically, set up a project to find real role models for teenage girls. Now, when teachers at my school try to set up a project, it fails instantly. Effort. Time. A half-hearted posters and 3 slide black and white powerpoint job. But Ms Berry had generated so much enthusiasm from her students that the project was a resounding success. An event was held in Chelmsford where these carefully chosen real role models were invited to talk about their profession. Consequently, the girls who set up the event grew confidence in themselves that they never knew they had. They realised they could, in a totally cliché way, be anything they want to be. Ms Berry made them realise that. Because of her, I'm basing my whole Extended Project Qualification (basically a mini dissertation), which is a large part of my A Levels, on the necessity of role models for young women. And I'm planning on her to be largely featured as one herself.

I talk about Ms Berry in the past tense, like she's not here anymore. Well she's not. She closed her account down this week in fear of being hounded. You see, a few picked up on her casualness and 'colourful tweets', as they put it, and completely ripped her apart. Not some trolls. They're a block job. I'm talking about her, our, local paper The Brentwood and Billericay Gazette. A paper which only last week published even more great positive work she'd done. The headline this week includes "obscene web chat". By 'web chat' they obviously mean tweets, but have used 'web chat' to assume 'chat rooms'. I firstly find this strange due to the fact they have a weekly twitter section in the paper. I secondly object to use of 'obscene'. This paper found her feed, stalked her tweets, and decided to take Ms Berry's tweets completely out of context, and twist everything she'd said. Nice. Tweets that were sent directly to people were laid out as public tweets, and were described as 'filthy' and 'sexually explicit'. Yes, she swears. Yes, she goes on about how much she wants Gary Barlow. EVERYONE SWEARS AND GNGNGNGNGNGNS ABOUT CELEBRITIES THEY WANT. There have been no complaints to the school, and the account even helps her students. She's a Media teacher for goodness sake. Tweeting and bantering with journalists is perfect for her job. Surely the twitter name she chose, @talktoteens, instantly proves that she's a bloody brilliant woman? The hypocrisy is outstanding. The teachers in Channel 4's Educating Essex are heard swearing to the nation, but apparently that's totally fine. No criticism there.

The victimisation of Ms Berry is beyond comprehension for me, and I just cannot understand the reason behind it. Do they want her to get the sack? Do they want the police involved? They know full well she's an incredible teacher. They've featured her success and brilliance a ton of times. This is a complete non-story, picked up on because they obviously have nothing else to talk about. Oh hold on, Dale Farm maybe?
I don't want to sound like I know everything about journalism, because I don't, but even I can see that this is cruel, uneccesary, petty journalism by a paper which is meant to support schools. I'm embarrassed that it's my own local paper, quite frankly. I'm all up for supporting local press, but unless The Gazette respond with a GOOD apology and get Ms Berry back where she belongs, then I want absolutely nothing to do with them anymore. Even the school she works thinks it's ridiculous, and they printed their comments stating that!

But still printed the article even though they knew full well it would go nowhere?! All they've managed to achieve is humiliation for her, anger towards them by their readers, and a massive hit for her confidence.

If they've knocked my Ms Berry back so hard that she doesn't come back then I'll never forgive them. If they've stopped her from inspiring young girls then no one will ever forgive them. The support on Twitter, with the hashtag #talktoteens, has been outstanding. Never have I ever seen a teacher so loved, by not even those who know her personally. But I know she'll come back. My Ms Berry will bounce back with the confidence she's passed on to so many and carry on doing what she does best. Being bloody brilliant and setting homework by tweeting.

I want an apology from The Gazette. I want it printed in every version. I want it to be front page. This hasn't generated attention and sales, but a myraid of angry supporters who will stop at nothing to get the justice Ms Berry deserves. There are tweets suggesting that people like me and Matt Leys (who originally blogged about this) are being over the top with the whole situation, and are now bullies. Yes, well done for thinking that standing up for someone incredible who has been ridiculed and giving our support and opinions to the newspaper is bullying. We are, of course, the bullies in this situation. Regardless of whether we're blowing this out of proportion, especially as the school is behind her,  I don't want this happening again. I want people to realise that journalism like this cannot happen, and if that means ranting on about it then so be it. I'm a teenager who's been affected by Ms Berry, and I'm standing up and speaking out to get her back. We need more teachers like her, ones you can talk about anything to. Ones you can trust. Ones that make you realise the potential you have to be brilliant. Ones that go above and beyond the call of duty. But how is that going to happen with rubbish like this happening? Ms Berry has influenced me, and in turn I'm going to influence others.

Supporting register. Louise Jones? HERE MISS!

51 comments:

  1. I read this as a teacher who recently got into hot water over a student who got onto my colleague's FB, fraped her, and when I commented criticising her I was the one who got into trouble!!!

    I don't know Ms Berry, but I fully support every word you've written here, and I think the more people refuse to allow this "newspaper" to bully her, the better.

    @Stedders1975

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  2. Great post. I got directed here by David Allan Green - you have friends in high places!

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  3. What a great article well done, teaching is about building relationships on trust, support and helping with things not necessarily directly about your own lesson, I teach ICT and help with college applications, chat about lives outside school, consoled a Year 11 when she found out she was "dumped" on FB, receive emails from student telling me thanks and how they are getting on when I left the school a year ago. Teachers do in fact have lives outside the classroom, we do not live in a cupboard, we sometimes go to festivals, dance, sing swear, have our own teenagers, have a crush on 50cent. Great teachers, relate and communicate to teenagers. Thank you for your article, and how lucky Miss Berry has your support. @chrissy_kelly

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  4. Well said, Louise. This is the sort of dreadful, lazy journalism - written with half an eye to selling a story to the nationals - that gives many, many hardworking media workers a bad name.

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  5. If Ms Berry has helped to inspire you to write so powerfully in her defence, she has done a great job with you and I'm sure very many other students. What kind of jealousy inspired this gutter journalism I wonder?

    I'm glad her colleagues are supporting her, but I'm sure many other teachers will be discouraged from using social media to support learning which is sad.

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  6. Just a suggestion... money talks, so it might be worth listing the advertisers in that edition of the paper. If you recall, it was the withdrawal of advertising that did for the NoTW. (I'm not suggesting we want to bring down your local paper... just put them in a position where they have to cooperate.)

    I bet a legion of supporters could persuade the advertisers to exert some pressure, who in turn will persuade the Gazette to do the decent thing. I.e. a full front-page apology and a multiple-page feature highlighting the great work Ms Berry and other great teachers are doing in your area.

    And for those who don't 'get' Twitter or aren't online at all, how about handing out a printed flyer at some key locations where the rag is sold, explaining why this is a non-story basically bullying a good woman for no good reason, and again, listing the advertisers who people might want to talk to about the importance of being associated with 'good' brands :)

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  7. You are an inspiration too! A superb article about a serious injustice! Like you I hope Ms Berry stays in teaching and continues to inspire others!

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  8. Great blog Louise, am a bit teary, I hate it when people use the abuse of others to make themselves feel good. The Gazette don't even have the "we don't understand/like Twitter" defence, they use it themselves.

    If there is anything I can do, just yell!

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  9. Congratulations on producing such a perceptive, passionate blog. I hope it helps produce the results you and Ms Berry deserve. Don't let the bullies win!

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  10. The passion and eloquence with which you write speaks volumes for Ms Berry as an educator.

    Disgusted that anyone, let alone such an inspirational teacher could be treated like this.

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  11. She shouldn't have said what she did on a forum her pupils, and their parents, could read.

    Being a teacher brings with it a level of responsibility both inside, and outside the classroom. To have posted the way she did, using the language she did, in such a public way, is unacceptable.

    The students may love her and she may be a brilliant teacher. As a parent, I want to keep the good teacher but lose the public profanity and public sexual references, and I think her employers have the right to expect the same.

    That her students rally to her support is no surprise, and no, I appreciate it is not just her students. Children do not always know what is best for them.

    Are there any teachers reading this who would like to post their support?

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  12. To the above poster, if you actually read the posts above your own then you would see that there is infact support from other teachers (and not even teachers at the same school).

    "Children do not always know what is best for them." Do you know how condescending that sounds?

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  13. Condescending, or accurate? There is a reason why there is a raft of legislation to protect minors from adult issues, themes and language.

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  14. Hi anon. Thanks for your comment, it's always good to get a differing view, but I can't help but feel you've missed the point.
    The anger towards The Gazette is due to the fact it was a non-story straight from the start, which they then made into a front page main article. The school was fully aware of her account, and had had no complaints. They support her, as she uses the account to go beyond the role of a typical teacher.
    The manipulation of tweets, and twisted words taken out of context, is also a big reason for anger, as well as The Gazette knowing full well she's an inspirational woman, and not a foul-mouthed one who shouldn't be a teacher.
    It's bad journalism. If you can take tweets from a teacher and turn it into an awful story like this, then you could do it with anyone with a respected profession. Tweets should never be made into journalism.
    The consequence of an investigation is ridiculous and time wasting for all involved.

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  15. "Condescending, or accurate? There is a reason why there is a raft of legislation to protect minors from adult issues, themes and language."

    You're obviously not the type of person that deserves to have any input into the schooling and/or education of our children.


    Louise, great response! This very article is why journalism sometimes has a bad reputation.

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  16. To anonymous - "there is a raft of legislation to protect minors from adult issues, themes and language".

    If you have read the article, I wonder what you consider in the tweets to be any of the above?

    If you read any tweets/fb/bbm postings from teenagers (assuming you can decipher the text-speak) they will contain much more casual swearing, and graphic sexualisation than any of the tweets contained in the Billericay Gazette article. I know this as the parent of a teenager.

    And in relation to @talktoteens tweets, from what I have seen her account was protected (maybe you could confirm this Louise?), which meant that random people could not see her tweets. The paper, and their non-story, actually made her comments accessible to her students where otherwise they would not have been; regardless of how public a forum Twitter is considered, there are ways to retain some semblance of privacy.

    The newspaper have abused their position in reporting this "story", especially when there were many other newsworthy stories happening at the time.

    From all reports, including those in the local paper themselves, @talktoteens is an incredibly inspirational teacher, and now risks losing an incredible career over something ridiculous. Imagine if a student had seen a teacher in a cafe, having lunch with a friend, having a conversation, including similar language. Would this teacher then need to be investigated? Kind of the same thing.

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  17. Excellent work, and well said. The whole saga has
    made me quite angry - why should Mrs Berry be
    exploited? It is a cheap headline.

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  18. It’s making headlines all over the place, for the content as well as the backlash. You don’t like it, but it is news - as and of itself, if, irrespective of the context, the tweets as published were tweeted. You may find it tabloid in its style and substance, as I do, but I doubt you would find many jobbing journalists who would say this isn’t a story.

    My view remains these things simply should not have been posted by a teacher aware her pupils might, or could, read what she said, period.

    Could this happen to any profession and be front page news? I don’t think so. Coming from someone in a position of responsibility with children is what sets this apart.

    I would not want my daughter’s teachers using the language I have seen reported - and I assume no one is questioning that these things were said - if that teacher knew some of their pupils followed them.

    I don’t agree that tweets should never be made into journalism either. Why censor in that way? Should one not report on racist tweets, or tweets that incite violence?

    I think there are risks when teachers go beyond the role of a typical teacher using social media, and the usual clear boundaries are blurred. Those boundaries are there for a reason too - to protect the teacher as well as the pupil.

    To the more recent poster - I don’t know the extent to which the tweets were protected, but my understanding is there were tweets going out to students, so she knew some were following her. Had she had a private, student free account, I don’t think it would be such an issue if an issue at all.

    My reference to legislation being in place to protect children was a direct response to the accusation I was being condescending by saying children don’t know what is best for them. They don’t. That’s why we protect them was the point I was making there.

    I don’t know how inspiration this teacher was - by all accounts she was fabulous - but in my opinion she over-stepped the mark.

    I can only say how I feel. I don’t want my daughter’s teachers making sexually explicit comments or bad language anywhere she is likely to hear it or he or she knows she may hear it - however good they are.

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  19. I meant "inspirational" above, of course.

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  20. I'm a teacher from the US and I was inspired to do the same thing for my students, only to be shot down by my own school district. Seeing that Ms. Berry had the backing and the courage to do this is AWESOME!!!!!

    Shame on the newspaper for bullying her! the editors of the paper really should look at what they are doing before calling you, Louise and Matt bullies.

    Ms. Berry, and you have my support! I would love to see Ms Berry back on twitter influencing not only the young ladies over there in the UK, but also here in the US!

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  21. To the criticizing anon:

    I can understand you wanting to protect your teenager from sexual innuendo and swearing. However you seem to be completely ignoring all the good this teacher has done. I am not a parent, but I am the eldest of a very large family of siblings and cousins, and as my parents and theirs worked most of the time, it was on my responsibility to take care of the other kids. I have also been a TEFL, and I can sincerely say that giving girls confidence in themselves, giving them good role models to look up to, giving them ideas about how much better it is to think intelligently over look good is worth a few swear words in my opinion.

    I have several accounts on Twitter. All except one are locked. This means that unless somebody is following me AND the person I am talking to, they will not see my tweets. As for you supporting the "journalist" who published these tweets, let me ask you: imagine if that journalist found your daughter's diary and then published (completely out of context of course) several parts of what was in there. Would you not feel outraged?

    If somebody has a problem with what this teacher posted in her private Twitter, they should have gone to Twitter, not smeared it all over a front page just for the sensationalism of the story.

    As to you Louise, I came here via a RT from Neil Gaiman himself. And I RTed in turn. Hopefully we can get your Ms Berry back! You do her proud.

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  22. Superbly written and I wish more people could see the value of inspirational teachers! Btw, I came here via neil gaiman @neilhimself

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  23. To an earlier anonymous poster- are you really asserting that children don't use strong language amonst themselves, and that they need to be protected from the same? What a very strange world you think you live in.

    Don't be a funt (a word from a children's comic, as it happens.)

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  24. I'm from Essex too and I wasn't taught by your Mrs Berry but I did have one or two exceptional out of the box teachers who helped me hugely become the man I am today. What this newspaper have done is nothing short of foul bullying. They know full well they're in the wrong and would be aware running with this could only have negative impacts on the Teacher and those whom she is now more cautious to help. This is some small local press wanting to play dirty like the big boys at News International rather that aknowledge the Community part of a community newspaper. A cheap shot from some cheap sh1ts.

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  25. Teachers have a right to a social life as well, whether it's out in the real world or online social network sites like Twitter. As long as she isn't slagging off her bosses or any of the pupils on the site, then I don't see why the newspaper has a problem with her.

    People swear in the real world - big deal. As long as she's a model teacher during school time (which it sounds like she is), then that's all that matters. The paper has undermined all her good work and for that, I think she deserves an apology.

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  26. The anonymous poster above possibly doesn't understand what Charlotte Berry did. The quotes used were from conversations, not open tweets, and the journalist in fact contacted her, started a conversation with her and then used the tweets to invent a story. It is disgusting, underhand behaviour from a journalist who had previously reported on the fantastic work she had done. Teachers do swear, drink and even (when they're not too knackered) have sex. They are entitled to a private life.

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  27. Great post, but one small correction - the Daily Mail wrote and article moaning about Educating Essex. Which is just as stupid as all this.

    I think part of the problem here is that if teachers are talking to teenagers on a teenager's level (which is precisely what they should be doing, as it's the most effective way of helping them), adults who aren't capable of that won't understand it - because it's not on their level. It's a bit of a catch 22. Let's hope she rejoins Twitter when all the fuss has died down.

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  28. I'm sorry but this argument does not stand up, you are potentially too biased by your foreknowledge of the teacher in question to form a point of view which would see the situation objectively, I feel.

    If you are a teacher, you know better than to behave in this way on a public forum with someone who you barely know, whether set up or not. You are a role model, you are in a position of trust. You may vouch for her from prior experience but that is not enough of an argument to defend her actions as far as I am concerned. People who disagree you with you, disagree with you, it's not necessarily 'failing to see the bigger picture'. I feel her language is inappropriate language to use as a person who deals with minors, whether chat based or open forum based. Most people not personally affected by the situation would agree that objectively, it is a step too far. She should know better.

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  29. I would just like to say I did follow @talktoteens and it was an open account, so ANYONE could see what she was posting. Many followers are not close friends, they are followers with who you banter and exchange information, also she actually tweeted the journalist in question to thank him on a previous newspaper report that praised her, they obviously came across her tweets she sent. I do DISAGREE how the newspaper handled this BUT..I agree with the 'critical' poster, yes we all swear but talking about 'wa**king and Bl** jobs and using the word c**t is not acceptable from from an assistant headteacher however a fantasic teacher she is....Imagine if John Prescott or Ed miliband etc tweeted like this, they would loose all credibilty. I agree that she naively crossed a line, maybe she should of had a locked account or had a separate account for 'friends'. I work in a school and would have alot less respect and be astonished if the Head 'spoke' in this manner. This is just my opinion and I'm entitled to it.

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  30. For the people who are worried about their teen seeing language like blowjob or cunt on Twitter... WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING ALLOWING YOUR CHILD ON TWITTER if you don't think they're mature enough to deal with language like that?

    Think of Twitter as being like a big city. If you wander around for a while you'll see mostly banal and benign things, a few amazing or inspiring things, possibly some horrible and shocking things, and maybe encounter some unpleasant people. If your offspring aren't old enough to cope with the sights and sounds of a city without parental supervision, you probably shouldn't let them on Twitter just yet.

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  31. I find that all these holier-than-thou attitudes slightly amusing.

    When you leave your job, do you take off your uniform/suit/workclothes? Do you get in to a nice pair of jammies? Do you maybe sometimes head out for a couple of drinks with friends? Do you swear at somebody doing a dangerous manoeuvre on the road?

    Then you must be TERRIBLE parents! You get naked, you wear inappropriate clothes, you get drunk, you are a rage driver!

    A teacher is a human being at the end of the day, and it is not THEIR place to provide the moral upbringing of your children. That, my dear parents, horrifying as it may sound, is up to YOU.

    The only responsibility a teacher has is to give your children an education. Nothing more, nothing less. How your children behave, is solely the responsibility of the parent.

    Perhaps all these outraged parents should spend more time looking into what their children do on the internet and less on throwing stones at good teachers.

    Glass houses and all.

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  32. I agree that it is unworthy of an entire article in the Gazette, and she certainly doesn't deserve to be sacked. I agree that teachers are entitled to a personal life, and it looks like she's a great teacher.

    Surely though she has done some wrong here. To post that sort of thing on a public account to be potentially read by her pupils or their parents is careless to say the least. Apparently these tweets are out of context, but I don't see what context could possibly justify them. Perhaps somebody could enlighten me.

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  33. I'm here via @neilhimself's retweet. What an outrageous thing to have happen! I'm not even in your country and I'm shaking with rage. Teachers that students can relate to are a rarity, and should be treasured. I had an English teacher in high school--rest in peace!--who encouraged my writing in a way I'd never been encouraged to do before. Because of him, I grew less afraid to write and submit what I've written for publication. He also treated me like an equal, which was a huge deal in small-town America.

    The other teacher who saved my sanity was my band director. He wouldn't put up with our crap, but he also knew that we were still regular high school students who happened to play an instrument. Band camp with him was always a really fun place to be, even the year he had surgery and was struggling to get through the day without collapsing in pain. He was gruff, sure, but he was like the dad I never had. I miss him.

    It's teachers like those, and your Ms Berry, who make students want to get up and go to class in the morning. It's a little bright spot in a day of drudgery (at best!). I wish more teachers would take the time to relate to students instead of treating them like prisoners.

    Thank you for taking the time to write this blog--I hope the attention it brings helps Ms Berry regain her confidence, and allows her to stand up and say "this is who I am, and talking about guys I think are handsome, or swearing, does not impact the way I do my job".

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  34. You are right. And it is very important, that people like you are here, people who are not afraid to stand up for the truth, who are willing to speak for those who were silenced. And it is very important you don't get intimidated, some people might say you're making a mountain out of a molehill. Don't believe them, right now, you are making huge difference in lives of many people, mainly Ms Berry and that is very important.
    Demons run when good man goes to war. Or woman, for that matter. :)

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  35. As a teacher from France, I fully support the points defended by Louise. Here, the situation is a bit different (it's very hard to get a teacher sacked, so we don't have much to fear), but it's not that common to have teachers talk on the same level as students (at least the 18- yo). I made the choice of seperating my private life/opinions from the school life, so I'm not friending any of my students on facebook, but it doesn't stop me from having colleagues in my friend list. And sometimes we swear, bitch, gossip and badmouth students, colleagues and administration alike.
    That said, it doesn't stop me from sometimes putting myself on their level *in class*. Students know that I will use the occasional swear word, especially when they really deserve it (and colleagues will back me, too). I guess it makes me a bad teacher, but sometimes, hearing what they'd hear from their friends/brothers/parents has a bigger impact than polite words that mostly makes them giggle because it's so out-of-context from their lives (suburbs where poverty is high).
    I know of some colleagues that "befriend" students on facebook, and use it to cheer them, wish them birthdays, give last minute info, share music... I know I wouldn't do it, but I certainly won't tell him to stop. I know his students really liked him and his brotherly attitude and respected him, but they had enough maturity to still see that even if he was at their level, in school he was the teacher. I fear my students don't have that maturity and would see me as a buddy rather than a teacher, which is why I won't do it.

    But yeah, I hope she can resume being the great out-of-box teacher she seemed to be, not everyone can be good at it, we need people like that.

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  36. Maybe I'm different but as 30 odd year old, I dont get 'drunk' take my clothes off, talk about blow jobs or wanking infront of people I dont know. I can talk to teenagers at their level but it doesnt mean I have to talk like them. The arguement seems to be here, that the only way of engaging with teenagers is to use the language they use, which of course is ridiculous.

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  37. Unless you are sending a Twitter message as a Let me start by saying that I totally agree that teachers - assistant head teachers even - have the right to a private life.

    However, Twitter is not a private domain for voicing your opinions.

    Unless you send your tweets as DMs (direct messages) or you have 'locked' your account so that only people who follow you see your tweets, ALL OF YOUR MESSAGES are viewable by the global public, EVEN IF THEY DON'T HAVE A TWITTER ACCOUNT. All you have to do is go to twitter.com/[username]. Try if you don't believe me.

    This means that anyone - even minors who have access to the web - can find these tweets. And what do all students love to do? Get the goss' on their teachers and friends.

    I would like to hope that a teacher who specialises in 'media' would know this. If you need to have 'jokey' banter, then do it as a DM or as a text or in an email - then it's private correspondence and the paper, students, colleagues, parents would know nothing of it.

    But when an Assistant Head Teacher tweets about:

    "@username...Oh, I told everyone obviously. It made a change from putting the male members of staff in shagging order"

    or

    "@username @username @username @username Make sure you're all vajazzled otherwise I disown you as my pupils"

    or

    "@username I bought tins so I'd have more time for blow jobs...

    [all of which were publicly viewable messages, BTW, and not taken out of context as even Twitter now shows 'conversations' so that you easily follow threads]

    then I think she's overstepped the mark and undermined her own authority both in terms of how her colleagues see her, much less how the students and their parents will view her actions.

    This is certainly a disciplinary action - any company would take steps towards reprimanding a staff member who is talking sexually explicitly about colleagues in a public context. I don't know that Charlotte should be fired, but if you are going to say these things in public and you are in a position of public responsibility, then you have to expect consequences.

    I am very sorry that Charlotte has been caught out, but I do think she should have thought very carefully about what she was saying in an VERY public forum.

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  38. And let's not forget this nitwit's part in positioning a non-story and excercise in low level hackery and sensationalist twittle-tattle with the nationals. Alan Geere...editor of the Essex Chronicle and editorial director of Northcliffe South East. Who, on 20th October tweeted....

    @alangeere Here's our Twitter teacher story that I shared with #NCTJdigital seminar. http://bit.ly/o4efGr Discuss.

    Hang your sorry head in shame...

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  39. Way to go, Louise. It's important to acknowledge such support, or things might turn on her. Reading the comments above, it's sad that overzealous self-apointed 'Moral Guardians' are so uptight and overreacting.

    Yes, innocent 'jokey' banter made public shows that she is in the clear and has nothing to hide, while there are a buttload of hidden teacher-student relationships, including pedophily which won't ever be discovered because, guess what, we're too busy stalking people online in search of whatever.

    It's plain sad. Hope things unfold well.

    Best regards from Brazil.

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  40. This is absolutely ridiculous. Teachers have so much condemnation from over-protective, hypocritical parents and a hysterical, vicious smut-press. I was considering teaching as a career a few years ago at university, but have since decided against it because of this very reason - instead, I'm now a graduate student hoping to get a lecturing position at a university, where educators still have a modicum of freedom with which to actually EDUCATE.

    Teachers aren't allowed to actually get on with their jobs and make a difference in people's lives anymore - they're subjected to so much criticism from all directions. I had so many inspirational, incredible teachers at school and college - and they were the ones who weren't afraid to go against the rules and do things their way. I'm actually afraid of sharing some anecdotes regarding their methods on the internet, as I'm putting my real name on this and some awful person (AKA rat-faced journalist) could easily track down who I'm talking about.

    The level of hysteria and teacher-bashing in this country has reached disgusting levels. Bravo for speaking out! I hope everything works out very well for Ms Berry and she keeps influencing students' lives for the better.

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  41. As I understand NOBODY is crisitising her teaching methods, how jokey she is, how easy she is to talk to, how she relates so well to her students. This is not bashing a teacher on how she conducts her lessons. This isnt stopping her freedom to EDUCATE. This is about her crossing a line...in her tweets when she talked about wanking and blow jobs. Her students did follow her and In my opinion is not acceptable as a teacher. If a male teacher talked about having a wank and wanting to lick somebody out, Wouldnt you all be shocked?? Is that how most people talk on twitter to realitive strangers?? I dont agree with how the journalist dealt with this but turning it into journalist bashing is not the answer. I think Ms Berry should of said sorry for any offence caused and then locked her account/sent DM's and carried on....but maybe watching what she tweeted in an OPEN forum.

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  42. Hi. I just want to say thank you for all your comments, it's made for a really interesting read and debate from afar. I never expected all this attention at all, I usually only get 10 comments max on blog posts. This is a bit mental.

    I only really wrote this to show Charlotte how much she's loved and to pick her back up. YES, I'm biased. Of course I am. I'm a local student who knows her. But I would like to reiterate that the point of this post was to express my anger that it was a NON-STORY from the start, as the school knew about it and had no complaints over it. There have been lots of comments about the actual tweets, and okay, maybe she shouldn't have tweeted them with a public account, but this personal post is on my love for amazing teachers like her, why we need more of them, and how this is, in my opinion, a stupid piece of journalism that should never have gone to print. I would also like to say that I am not out to attack and bring down my local newspaper, but bring to their attention the disappointment of many.

    Thank you again for your views, I appreciate and respect them all, as I'm sure does Charlotte.

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  43. I always feel that being a teacher must be the hardest job. The teachers on Educating Essex were getting slated for swearing at each other in the staff room but I think it's so unfair.

    There's certainly a degree of truth in the fact that teachers have to be careful - especially somewhere like Twitter if you don't protect your tweets, where your students could follow you without you being aware of it.

    My best teachers were always the ones who had character, but you have to balance it with someone who's too chummy. I see that here she wasn't interacting with students directly... it's such a difficult issue in my mind.

    This is why I'd be a university lecturer but never a secondary school teacher. At least you can be an actual person when you teach older children.

    (I'm from Billericay by the way, strange as I already read your blog without knowing that.)

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  44. Thank you Louise for a very sensible response in your last message here, I am one of the ones that complained about her ACTUAL tweets and I can totally see where you are coming from about the journalist but you do also agree the tweets were abit personnal for an open forum. You have understood what some of us were trying to say instead of just shouting us down like some of the other posters. You have really come across as a open minded, mature, intelligent women and I will recommend your blog to others.

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  45. Thank you for bringing this to the attention of a wider community. As a result I've contacted the newspaper to tell them they are a disgrace (not something that they'll publish obviously) and I've also written to the school in support of Mrs Berry. Many thanks again.

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  46. What a brilliantly written post - you have a talent! And what you have said is the most any teacher could ask for - not many would get this level of support. Good luck with your campaign, and best wishes to Mrs Berry.

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  47. Can I just say well done Jones for a brilliant and passionate post. Charlotte is a damn fine lady and teacher and you've done her proud.

    Dave.

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