What a Difference a Word Makes

Stories

In 9th grade my English teacher would say to us, “PEOPLE, we are going to begin an essay today.” At first I thought it was a mistake. People? Really? But again and again she referred to us with a word that meant to me respect, acceptance and relevance. We were important to her, we were important in the classroom, we … Read More

Kenneth Bernstein's Learning Story

Stories

Can we call this learning how important it is to empower students? My last year at Kettering Middle School, where I first taught, I had only two classes of 8th grade students, each of which I saw for two 73-minute periods a day, teaching them English, Reading, and American History. I wanted them to work on being able to tell … Read More

(Not) Playing by the Rules

Stories

I always thought some school rules were arbitrary. I challenged my high school rule prohibiting boys from wearing jewelry (like earrings) by convincing the school senior class to boycott buying the class ring. School officials freaked. They were forced to create a formal student/faculty process to debate the rules. I also had fun with another rule about wearing a “jacket … Read More

The Power of the Press

Stories

The press badges on two junior high reporters caught the president’s eye at the steps of Air Force One. “Oh, I see you’re starting early,” Richard Nixon told the students as he stepped forward to shake their hands. The two student reporters, wearing the same press credentials as the half dozen professional reporters also at the aircraft, were the only … Read More

"I am not going to teach you any differently!"

Stories

Perhaps the most significant, life-determining learning experience happened in the eleventh grade in Mrs. Eli’s class in my West Texas hometown high school named San Angelo Central High School. I remember the first day of the school year in her class. At first–in the brief moments before class was to start–it seemed like any other eleventh-grade class. That is, pretty … Read More

'Enough stick! How about some carrots!'

Stories

I have considered patenting a T-shirt with a badly beaten bunny saying, ‘Enough stick! How about some carrots!’ I think of this when addressing my students about my schooling in ‘the day’, and their reaction – wishing for a time machine to return to those practices. First, I must offer a bit of biography. I grew up in a small … Read More