Beyond Old Windows: A Teacher's Thoughts Between Centuries

Phi Kappa Phi Forum Columns

     Welcome to this site's Phi Kappa Phi Forum Columns page, ... a place where you'll find Education and Academic Forum columns I'd written in the past decade, close to the turn of the century. They are the story of America's public education system, its people,  and its promises... others have written of the problems, but the best advice I received as a writer came from my former principal who counseled, "use your skill to celebrate the positive, and avoid the already evident negative." Those words remain with me, still.

     I have set "summary" as the default here on this PKP forum page, to shorten each window and allow you to scan ahead to the article that catches your attention. You can then open the full article, and comment on its content. That option exists only on this page, but there is a Guestbook page where you are invited to comment on the other pages of the site.

      I welcome your feedback, and look forward to reading your reflective responses...

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Classroom shadows

Posted on July 27, 2010 at 7:49 PM Comments comments (2)


Appreciate: To evaluate the worth, quality, significance of; to admire greatly; to judge with heightened perception or understanding, to be fully aware of; to recognize with gratitude; to increase the value of

-Webster


The classroom year is just beginning - all things seem possible. Resolutions are fresh and attainable, the chalktrays still clean. A dozen sharp pencils s...

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Morning Meeting, Part One: The People

Posted on March 15, 2010 at 9:12 PM Comments comments (2)

This piece was requested by the editors as a keynote article for a special Teacher's Edition of the Phi Kappa Phi Forum ... longer than the typical column, I have separated it into two entries here ... it was written for the fall issue of 2001, and was published on the heels of the terrorist attacks of nine-eleven...


THE TEACHER:

As she rinsed her coffee cup in the sink, she saw her husband's note reminding her to stop and fill her car's gas tank. She menta...

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Morning Meeting, Part Two: The Time

Posted on March 15, 2010 at 8:43 PM Comments comments (2)

THE TIME:

Sometimes it is discussed within the first minutes of the class period. Sometimes it occurs at the end of a busy elementary day. It might be on a high school syllabus that delivers a term's worth at a time. No doubt, it is at all levels, in all classrooms. Homework is the tradition that lives on despite all other changes in education. Enduring but hardly endearing, it appears inescapable. Neither rain, nor snow days, nor the dark of power-failure nights provides a repr...

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Pendulum

Posted on March 12, 2010 at 8:43 PM Comments comments (2)

The larger the pendulum, the more slowly it moves, covering a wide expanse of territory, evenly, smoothly. At the end of its sweep the reverse in its direction is dramatic; without a moment to reorient, it is off again. The change is most tolerable to those who anticipate it and understand its history, those who know that the entire path will again be covered. At some moments it reaches extremes, at some moments it is truly centered, but never for long ...

Children in elementary and mi...

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Working Model

Posted on March 10, 2010 at 7:18 PM Comments comments (0)


You have the chance to go to a brand-new school without leaving town, in a redistricting plan that will reduce crowding in your old school. You can be on the ground floor of a new organization, with new faces and new opportunities....

The excitement level will be high; the town has spent millions of dollars; the administration wants this school to succeed and will no doubt showcase every accomplishment....

Everything there will be sparkling clean; you will have elect...

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Learning in Circles

Posted on March 8, 2010 at 7:53 PM Comments comments (5)


The following is a hypothetical conversation that will no doubt occur in some fashion in many good schools, where teachers are focusing on strengthening adolescent literacy to help students meet the growing communication demands of our information-based society. Although the speaking characters in this script are fictional, resemblance to actual teachers is, fortunately, inevitable.

Place: A middle school faculty dining room

Time: A few quiet moments betw...

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The Rank Book

Posted on March 7, 2010 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (2)

Among all the new materials with which teachers begin each school year, none may be so individualized, as ambiguous, and so potent as the "rank book." On its pages we record our students' progress, and within its records we measure our own classroom goals as met or unmet. Whether it is a commercially-bound spiral ledger with embossed covers, or a set of lined or graph-paper sheets hole-punched and stored in a binder, or a self-designed, formulated spreadsheet stored on a floppy disk or printe...

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An American Issue: Raising Awareness and Revenue for Public Schools in Tough Economic Times

Posted on March 7, 2010 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)


Toward the end of the French and Indian War, George III became the British monarch, inheriting not only an empire that spanned the globe, but also the responsibility of paying an enormous debt incurred in that Seven Years' War. Unwilling to further risk the rebellious wrath of his European subjects who, for years, had been paying high taxes, George turned to his American colonies for increased revenue, imposed the presence of ten thousand British soldiers and all the related costs...

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Questions Worth Asking

Posted on March 6, 2010 at 8:28 PM Comments comments (0)

In the dim morning light of late winter, the sun barely over the horizon, the day begins with a line of cars competing with the foot traffic and buses in the middle school parking lot. Inside the cafeteria window, the principal sits at a table watching the arrivals, his pen lightly tapping a notepad, his brow furrowed. As he watches, some parents share quick hugs with their children; others seem to be giving words of advice or reminders of after-school plans.

The teacher watches from t...

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