Notes from the Field

Show me what you know: Pre-service city teachers and social justice in action

Kristien Marquez-Zenkov, Diane Corrigan, Christina Brockett & Sarah Lehrian


Neighborhood narratives: Learning about lives through conversations, writing, and photographs

Angela M. Wiseman

In the suburbs, the police are much more on top of things than in the city. In Philly, they will beat you, but not in a good way. I have a girlfriend who lives in Cheltenham (a nearby suburb) and her car was stolen. They told her before she even knew it was gone! They called her in the morning and said, "We have your car. Some kids took it for a joyride." This would never happen where I live.

Compiling a racial justice report card

Paul Socolar and Raymond Gunn
Reprinted with the permission of the Philadelphia Public School Notebook

"The School District is failing or refusing to provide an equal educational opportunity and a quality education to children attending racially isolated minority schools."

Action Research on Meaningful Family Involvement by Parents, Teachers, and Students: Using the Telling Strategically

Barbara D'Emilio

Kim, a single parent, who works two jobs, takes off work to pick up her daughter, Ashley, from elementary school in order to update her shots in an effort to comply with school immunization requirements. She hurriedly enters the front office of the school to find the front office worker, Gail, on the phone complaining about the irresponsibility of those "Spanish" parents.

Beyond "I": Critical Literacy, Social Education, and the "I-Search"

Beth C. Rubin

If I hadn't done the I-Search, like, [on] this topic [acquaintance rape], I guess I would still be kind of wondering about it. Like how do you deal with it after, am I doing the right thing...stuff like that. The I-Search was kind of a door I could go through and read all these things and realize that I wasn't the only one.

A Pinch of Old, A Dash of New: Teachers Blending Their Autobiographical Voices

Monica Taylor, Lesley Coia, Vinni Gallassio, Jeanine Giovannone, Allison Leventhal, David Olah, & Maria Premus


Educating for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse: An Investigation of School-Based Programs for High School Students and their Applicability to Urban Schools

Emily A. Greytak

In the past decade, issues surrounding school safety have risen to the forefront of the public agenda. Schools in urban settings have been particularly vulnerable to critiques surrounding crime and violence and have responded by dedicating time, funding, and staff to violence prevention activities (Bowman, 2001; Toby, 2001).

Supporting social justice in the classrooms of new urban teachers through reflection, research, and perspective-taking

Christopher S. Soto & Ayan Chatterjee



This article is the result of a reflective collaboration between a first year Teach for America (TFA) teacher, Ayan Chatterjee, and his Child and Adolescent Development Instructor at The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (GSE), Chris Soto.  Ayan’s final research project for the class - an analysis of how differences between his race and that of his students may have impacted teacher-student relationships during his first year teaching - provided b

One Teacher’s Path to Progressive Pedagogy

Mathangi Subramanian

“Are you absolutely sure?”

Five heads nodded vigorously, silently.  Black ponytails shook, shoulders slumped, and hooded sweatshirts creased around the collars.  We were having class in the teachers’ lounge, where the air smelled like coffee and Lysol.

“You don’t want a rubric?”

They shook their heads.  Their ponytails swayed from side to side.
“You don’t want any guidelines?”   

African American Girls' Virtual Selves

Kimberly Scott

Computers are one facet of our media saturated society. Their present-day existence has redefined how individuals interact. As any social fixture, this technological tool remains subject to sex differences. Although diminishing, boys still tend to use computers more and have more self-confidence with them than girls (Colley & Comber, 2003).

Visibly Invisible: The Reality of Five Black Boys in a Public High School

Franciska Coleman

"A little over a year ago, I was engaged in conversation with a friend and colleague. He asked me the following question: 'If I brought a 70-year old illiterate man to you, could you teach him to read?' My answer was yes for I had taught reading to beginning readers. He asked the same question referring to a forty-year old man, and my response was yes again.

Are these the District's 'lowest performing schools?' There are many problems with the label used to describe 86 schools now targeted for reform

Paul Socolar

In October 2001, when former Governor Mark Schweiker announced plans for taking over management of schools in Philadelphia, he promised that dramatic intervention would take place at the District's "60 lowest performing schools."

Analysis: do Philadelphians still have a voice at the School District? Understanding the state takeover of Philadelphia's schools

Len Rieser

On December 23, 2001, Philadelphians awoke to the startling news that their schools were now -- as the Philadelphia Inquirer put it -- "the property and problem of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

Teacher turnover high at the 'takeover schools' External managers struggle with staffing instability

Kurt Spiridakis

Teacher turnover increased between June and September 2002 at most of the schools in Philadelphia that were assigned to external managers or subject to special intervention.

Brown Skin, Blue Passport: Reflections on a Trip to Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Anita Chikkatur

It’s a hot day in July. I find myself in a university classroom in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, listening as an Achenese elementary school teacher narrates a children’s story. As she breaks into song in the middle of the story, the twenty other teachers in the classroom join in. I’m awed by their talents and think about how lucky I feel to be able to experience this.

Out of Disaster Comes Opportunity: Initial Lessons from Teacher Mentoring in Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Joy Lesnick & Katherine Schultz

As a science educator, I have learned that teachers sometimes feel like they can’t teach science without specialized equipment.  In my experience, however, there are many science concepts that can be demonstrated with very basic tools.  Building a sundial is one activity that is rich in content and requires very few materials. 

Living Brown then, Living Brown now

William Gipson

…I want to center my comments primarily around two of the important figures in my life. There are many, but the two I want to talk about as a way of getting into my contribution today are two men in my family, my maternal grandfather and my own father. In fact, in many ways I embody both of them. I inherited my maternal grandfather's high metabolism and my father's height.

Latina/o Teacher Insurgency and No Child Left Behind: The Politics of Resistance to English-Only Policies in Urban School Classrooms

Yvette V. Lapayese

Teacher insurgency is on the rise as critical educators refuse to accept the authoritarianism of English-only reforms by struggling to undermine current educational policies while at the same time advancing alternatives.

(Re)action and Managing Dilemmas: Working Toward a Clearer Picture of New Teachers’ Professional Knowledge

Each time I sit down to write about teaching, I am awed by the complexity of the task. For despite all of the scholarship, the stories, the personal and vicarious experiences in schools, the images in television and films, what exactly constitutes the work of teaching is still contested, debated, researched, and somewhat mysterious. Imagine, then, how difficult it is to ascertain what professional knowledge is necessary for teaching, never mind good teaching.

Rediscovering Community

Indi Ekanayake

Dr. James Lytle’s discussion of the “destruction” of the School District of Philadelphia was indeed a bitter pill to swallow.   As an educator who is both an alumnus of Teach For America and a charter school employee, it might seem as if I am representative of the types of people whom Dr.

Time’s Up: Applying Teacher Management Skills to Solving Philadelphia’s Problems

Zach Lax

On the first day of my tenure as a Philadelphia School District Teacher, I made the following observations. 1. I don’t have a desk in my classroom. 2. There are also not enough desks for my students. 3. I have been assigned to teach a subject completely different than the one that I took the state test for. 4. S#%$! It’s 7:45. The bell just rang and I can hear my new students coming down the hall.


Gillian Maimon

Summer is a merciful time of reflection and restoration for a teacher.  Much of the meaning of what takes place over the course of a year is imperceptible until the backward glance of summer.  In my seventeenth summer as a teacher in the School District of Philadelphia, my annual retrospective is colored by what looms for all of us in Philadelphia.  While Torch Lytle’s call for unified action to wrest control of our schools from the elites who make policy decisions is absolutely imperative, I cannot help but wonder about my place in this social movement.  My most meaning

Why Teachers Must Join the Fight for Public Education. Now.

Anissa Weinraub, Teacher Action Group- Philadelphia

We are at a tipping point in Philadelphia.

I say this as a teacher, fully committed to the promise of public education for all the young people living in this city I love, who has felt the repeated stab of the School District’s systemic dysfunction and the State and City’s structural abandonment.

Education: The “Business” of America

Nuwar Ahmed

Schools are institutions created to teach and socialize students in an environment they feel comfortable in, so what do we do when a school becomes a business? In Washington, D.C., New York City, and Chicago, mass school closures were said to be the only beneficial strategy for improving the educational systems within these specific cities. Data shows that these 3 major cities have not benefited and in fact have suffered from these reforms. Unfortunately, this reform is beginning in Philadelphia and the outcome will probably be the same.