I’m still processing my experience from Teacher Town Hall at EducationNation…


Last week, I responded to an outreach tweet from @GetSchooled and ended up with two press passes to Education Nation’s Teacher Town Hall hosted by Brian Williams. (For the record, EdCampNYC was listed as my press credentials! I guess if I can organize an UNconference, I can be an UNreporter.) Everyone was super nice. Summer Wilkie (@SummerWilkie NBC Communications) sent me on a private tour of the Learning Plaza above ground. Kevin Sullivan (@KSullie) made sure I could access the Wifi. (Kevin’s Twitter bio reads “ex-White House Communications Director & PR exec w/NBC Universal” by the way.) I met Tom Whitby (@TomWhitby) in the flesh and shook Randi Weingarten‘s hand. (Randi is the President of the AFT – American Federation of Teachers – and was, frankly, vilified in Waiting for Superman.) Two NBC pages were willing to take photos with Gina Marcel and me, even after I felt the need to insist that I wasn’t a real tourist. Gina (@fpgina) and I work together and she was my +1.

From our seats in the audience, we had stunning views of the stage, the audience, and Brian William’s hair. I sent out a few tweets about Brian’s silver pate, and Linda Hahner (@ReadToday) called me out on my flippancy, comparing it to Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake.” In my defense, however, the whole event seemed essentially superficial, so I felt like I could get away with acting in kind. I mean, issues were being passionately stated in neat little sound bites, but what could really be resolved in a day, a week, a generation? I also couldn’t  hear the teachers that stepped up to the mic to voice their thoughts. Rather, I focused on the Twitter stream. The archived tweets were gathered by Jerry Swiatek (@jswiatek) here: http://twapperkeeper.com/hashtag/educationnation

I was struck by the importance of NBC giving teachers a forum at Education Nation. Hopefully the media will cover education reform as closely as OJ’s trial, especially for those that believe that if something is on TV, then it must be important. I also focused on the irony of the Teacher Town Hall taking place on Rockefeller’s ice-skating rink, as we were all just skating around major issues. My mother thinks I’m very clever.

I sat next to Eric Klopfer (@eklopfer), someone Lucy Gray (@elemenous) told me to try and meet years ago. He’s at MIT and big in gaming. He told me about the undergraduate teacher certification program at MIT. I told him how I was the first person to graduate Bryn Mawr College with a BA in Mathematics and a teaching certificate back in 1995. I’ve been teaching (and aging) ever since, mostly at independent schools in Manhattan.

A lot of airtime was dedicated to mentioning Waiting for Superman, so I was thrilled when Jeff Weitz (@scienceteacher1 and fellow TEDxNYED organizer) offered me a ticket to view the film last night. More about this in my next post.

Final thought #1: My Flickr album from Teacher Town Hall can be viewed here.

Final thought #2: I’m surprised no one has publicly recognized that “Education Nation” can be sung to the tune of School House Rock’s “Interplanet Janet.” There’s an opportunity here…



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2 responses to “I’m still processing my experience from Teacher Town Hall at EducationNation…

  1. arvind s grover

    Karen, thanks for the tidy summary. I was curious to go, but thought it might be a little to large for my liking, not to mention I was busy that day. The big venue ed tickets sort of end up being talking heads as a result of format. How do we actually create an event where change can be built, packaged, and taken back with the participants. Just a pipe dream, perhaps…


  2. Karen Blumberg

    Thanks for commenting, Arvind! Talking heads, indeed. Maybe reform will only happen when a spectrum of people together make and implement the change – like a partnership between kids, parents, teachers, and administrators. It’s worth the effort.


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