Calm Classroom, Sparkling Desks

Originally posted on Open Salon on February 22. 2012:               “Kids today!”                This hackneyed exclamation has been around for generations, and people of every generation think they invented it.                “Our parents didn’t let us get away with things like that!”                This is probably true.                “My father used to take his belt to me!”                I think the speaker [...]

No Excuse for the Narrow Focus of Our Schools

Originally posted on Open Salon on October 2, 2011:            I have been a teacher now for over twenty years, and I have split my career between the middle- and high-school levels.  Five years ago, I decided to pursue a second master’s degree, this one in school administration, and I attended the Rutgers University Graduate School [...]

Madame Jocelyn

Originally published on Open Salon on April 24, 2011:            Recently, my mind has been on a recently departed friend and colleague.  Her name was Jocelyn, but I always called her Madame.            Madame and I met in early 1992 when I became a long-term substitute at an inner-city high school in Pennsylvania.  I was just beginning [...]

How I Dress at Work

 Originally published on Open Salon on April 9, 2011:            Recently, I have given a great deal of thought to a particular tendency in our culture that has powerful implications, not only for my work as a teacher, but also for society as a whole.  A personal anecdote serves as an introduction.            For about twenty years [...]

Chris Christie and School Rules: Making Things Sensible?

Originally published on Open Salon on April 5, 2011:            The Star Ledger reports today that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is creating a task force that will review state rules for school districts with the goal of eliminating forms of regulation that interfere with the efficient function of schools.  Reporters Ginger Gibson and Jeanette Rundquist [...]

Student Behavior and Our Media

 Originally posted on Open Salon on February 21, 2011:           More today about the behavior spectrum of today’s students.            I explained in an earlier post that our entire society—adults and children alike—is strongly influenced by our mass media.  It helps to isolate and understand some important principles on which our media function.            It is obvious that [...]

Teachers, Perceptions, and Distractions

Originally posted on Open Salon on January 18, 2011:              First, a word on how the public perceives teachers, particularly since the current economic crisis began to make its effects felt in late 2008.  In my home state of New Jersey, budget cuts at the state level have impacted schools profoundly, and a great debate has [...]