NEA Members Win NBC ‘Education Nation’ Essay Contest
By Alain Jehlen
A reality show about the life of a kindergarten teacher? Why not? It’s as tough a job as they come. No major network has yet committed to the series, but California kindergarten teacher and NEA member Patricia Raina did win an NBC essay contest with the idea, and she’ll be heading east to take part in NBC’s “Education Nation” teacher town hall this Sunday.
Education Nation is a week-long series of programs starting with the town hall. NBC sponsored the essay contest as part of its lead-up to the show. The essay topic: “What are the biggest challenges you face in your job, and how do you measure your own success on a daily basis?”
Raina’s answer was in the form of a seven-round reality show in which contestants would keep 32 squirmy five-year-olds on task mastering state standards, while not licking the fish bowl.
The NBC affiliate in Sacramento surprised her with the news and posted her essay online. Here’s an excerpt:
During Language Arts, contestants must meet the needs of all students, while keeping all students engaged and on-task. Viewers will be able to call in when they see children off-task. Any students off task will result in contestant elimination. Contestants will provide instruction for English Language Learners, students at grade level, below grade level, far below grade level and above grade level by providing small group instruction geared to each student’s needs. Contestants should keep in mind that, while working with a small group, other students will be engaged in meaningful tasks from state adopted materials. Also, keep in mind that the attention span of an average Kindergartener is ten minutes and that they do not work well independently.
The winner gets to teach kindergarten.
According to NBC, all three winning essays will be posted on the Education Nation blog The Learning Curve on Sept. 25.
NBC picked three winning essays, two of them by NEA members, Raina and New York high school special education teacher William Johnson. His essay was about his efforts to inject “a bit of reason into the lives of urban students who live with constant turmoil,” according to NBC.
NBC will broadcast the teachers town hall live from noon to 2 pm, Eastern time, with 300 teachers discussing teacher evaluation and effectiveness, challenges that impact student achievement, and other topics. It will be moderated by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams. Along with the broadcast program, there will be live chats.
On Monday, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel and Education Secretary Arne Duncan will be panelists in a program featuring three classrooms around the country where great teaching is taking place. This show, “Window on Great Teaching” will be broadcast from 10:45-11:30 am, Eastern time.
Audience members will have the opportunity to go live into these classrooms and interact with the teachers and students.