The Smithsonian will host its first annual Educator’s Day Friday, Sept. 17. The free full-day virtual event will bring together museum educators and teachers from across the country to explore opportunities to collaborate, learn from one another, and discuss the future of education. The day will include plenary sessions and more than 30 breakout sessions between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET.

Pre-K–12 teachers across the country are invited to participate in this inaugural event. They will have the opportunity to talk directly to educators and curators from across the Smithsonian to learn about collections, current research initiatives and get a sneak peek into upcoming exhibitions. The day will include programs in five categories:

  • Spotlight on Educators programs will offer pre-K–12 teachers an opportunity to share innovations in classrooms around the nation with fellow educators.
  • Big Issues programs highlight Smithsonian initiatives tackling complex contemporary global topics, such as equity and inclusion, cross-cultural dialogue and environmental conservation.
  • Sneak Peek programs offer educators a first look at concepts and topics being explored in upcoming exhibitions.
  • Behind the Scenes programs pull back the curtains on Smithsonian processes that are not usually visible to the public. Educators can learn about topics like museum conservation and the Smithsonian’s archives.
  • People at the Smithsonian programs highlight the roles of a variety of experts at the Smithsonian.

“I am excited for educators across the nation to learn more about the resources the Smithsonian has to support teaching and learning in the classroom,” said Monique Chism, the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for Education. “We know from research that teachers are the most important within-school factor that influences student outcomes, and the Smithsonian is committed to supporting their work.” 

Educator’s Day is part of the Smithsonian’s 175th-anniversary celebration. The program is specifically designed to address the topics for which teachers most often seek the Smithsonian’s support, including interdisciplinary lesson design, skill development, and how to use Smithsonian resources to support learning in the classroom. The program will feature a keynote welcome address from Chism and an afternoon keynote address with Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch and Juliana Urtubey, the 2021 National Teacher of the Year. Additional speakers will include experts from more than 20 Smithsonian museums and education, research, and cultural centers, as well as teachers from across the nation, including the District of Columbia Public Schools, Tulsa Public Schools, and several state Teachers of the Year. Schedule highlights include:

12 p.m.­      Crafting Family Learning in Q?rius: Extending Classroom Experiences With Informal Education Practice, a Behind the Scenes program with experts from the National Museum of Natural History.

1 p.m.        We Have Hard History, and We Teach It: Grappling With the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, a Spotlight on Educators program featuring teachers from Tulsa Public Schools.

2 p.m.        Engineering through Empathy: Connecting Kindergarteners and Animals to Inspire STEM Learning, a People at the Smithsonian program with experts from the Smithsonian Science Education Center and National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.

4 p.m.        Imagine the FUTURES, a Sneak Peek program offering a first look at the “FUTURES” exhibition opening this fall, with speakers from the Smithsonian Science Education Center and the Arts and Industries Building.

5 p.m.­­        Supporting Young Children’s Positive Racialized Identity Development, a Big Issues program with experts from the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center, National Museum of African American History and Culture, and National Museum of the American Indian.

6 p.m.        Integrating Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion (DEAI) in the pre-K–12 Classroom, a Big Issues program with speakers from the Smithsonian Science Education Center, Access Smithsonian, and the District of Columbia State Education Agency.

A full schedule for Educator’s Day with program descriptions and additional information is available on the event website. All sessions are free; however, space is limited so advanced registration is required. Participants will select the specific sessions they wish to attend when registering online.

Education at the Smithsonian 

Education has been at the core of the Smithsonian’s identity since it was founded in 1846 for “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Today, the Smithsonian is committed to playing a role as one of the leading education organizations in the country. More than 300 educators across the Smithsonian’s museums and education, research, and cultural centers enlighten, inspire and engage learners of all ages. With its millions of objects and in-museum experiences, in-classroom and at-home offerings, and professional development for teachers, the Smithsonian offers vast resources for lifelong learning.

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