Snapshots of Practice

Midtown West: The Restaurant Study

Kids during restaurant curriculumBank Street faculty and staff regularly work in partnership with public schools to support teachers and leaders in sustaining and strengthening their progressive educational practice. At Midtown West, a public elementary school founded in 1922 as a collaboration between parents in New York City’s District 2 and Bank Street faculty, Peggy McNamara, Chair of General Teacher Education at Bank Street Graduate School of Education, has worked as a coach and thought partner with teachers across every grade.

During the 2016-17 school year, Peggy had the opportunity to work with two first grade teachers who met regularly to plan emergent curriculum, reflect on their practice, and surface the challenges and rewards of leading a public school classroom. Over the course of developing and teaching one signature Midtown West curriculum unit called “The Restaurant,” we followed Peggy and their teachers as they made teaching decisions to engage and educate students through a study of food and community.


Charles, J., McNamara, M., and Hellerstein, S. (2018). Midtown West: The restaurant study. New York, N.Y.: Bank Street College of Education.

The Restaurant Study
Introduces The Restaurant Study and includes timelines for the Social Studies, Science, and Literacy Curriculum integration
Click to download (pdf)

“Planning” an Emergent Curriculum
Explores the creation of the restaurant curriculum based on the concept of an emergent curriculum, which is borne from the interests and experiences of children
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Collaboration and Collegiality
Details ways the teachers, school, parents, and restaurants worked together to create The Restaurant Study
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Supporting the Teacher Team
Discusses how Peggy McNamara supported the teachers by engaging with them in all the conceptual, instructional, and logistical aspects of their teaching
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Emergent Curriculum and Teacher Teaming at Your School
Provides more information about the emergent curriculum and collaborative effort to create The Restaurant Study
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Midtown West Reflections
Written by Peggy McNamara—describes her work as a coach and partner with teachers at Midtown West throughout The Restaurant Study
Click to download (pdf)