Among the mix of pages, chancellors, and mayors at NBC’s “Education Nation” outdoor museum at Rockefeller Center this week were a cadre of teachers from around the country who taught live “lessons” to the general public.
The exercise was remarkable for its lack of actual students. The lessons occurred inside one of several mini-tents on the plaza, starting at irregular hours, and the only officially invited guests were teachers, not children.
But the one teacher whose lesson I saw — Joseph Almeida, who teaches sixth grade math at KIPP Academy in the Bronx — did not let that deter him. He tailored his lesson, about place value, to the collection of adult tourists and passersby who gathered around him.
The principal training nonprofit New Leaders for New Schools gathered Almeida and the other roughly 50 teachers who taught public lessons through what New Leaders founder Jon Schnur described as a rigorous process. After recruiting nominations of teachers from around the country, New Leaders reviewed information ranging from the teachers’ students’ performance results to videotapes of their teaching.
The winning teachers presented their lessons live and got a free all-expenses paid trip to New York courtesy of NBC, Schnur told me.
In at least one case, a New Leaders staff person sent a last-minute e-mail message to a reporter (me) asking for recommendations of local high school teachers willing to teach at Rockefeller Center. The teacher I “nominated,” Eyal Wallenberg of the Urban Assembly School for Law and Justice in the Bronx, was selected and taught a lesson on the prisoner’s dilemma.
NBC also showcased the work of teachers who have relationships with some of the Education Nation event’s sponsors. One of these, Adam Hyman, a technology teacher at P.S. 101 in Forest Hills who does contract work with Scholastic, presented a lesson on a digital interactive chalkboard made by the company Promethean.