This post was written by Kellie Taylor, a 2018-2019 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the Library of Congress.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
As an elementary teacher in Emmett, Idaho for the past fourteen years, I taught in the general classroom for first, second, and third grade before teaching engineering to kindergarten through fifth grade students the past six years. The elementary engineering classroom allowed students to build working models out of LEGOs, K’Nex, Fischertechnik, and participate in 3D printing, robotics, and collaborative projects. My classroom has reflected my passion for hands-on, problem-based learning. I hope my collaboration with the Library of Congress can do the same.
How did you come to apply to be a Library of Congress Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow?
I learned of the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship several years ago and the opportunities it affords classroom educators. It made me wonder if I could make a bigger impact in another setting than the classroom. It also made me think about my ability to shift my focus from a classroom teacher to a collaborator on a national level.
Not only did I apply and get invited to the interview weekend as a semi-finalist, but I found my home in Washington, D.C. I couldn’t have been more excited when I got the phone call with the offer from the Library of Congress.
What are your goals for your year as an Einstein Fellow at the Library?
While 11 months sounds like a long time, I know it will be over before I know it. I want to make the most of this experience! Since my first day at the Library of Congress, September 10, I have been exploring and learning about all the amazing resources and opportunities that exist within these hallowed halls, many of which can be accessed online as well. I would love to bring my passion for hands-on, problem-based learning into action by developing STEM instructional materials that use primary sources. In addition, I look forward to assisting with future maker space pilots in the Young Readers Center.
How has using Library of Congress resources changed your teaching?
As I come across sketches from Alexander Graham Bell’s lab and hear the Library’s preservation scientists talking about their work, it reminds me that science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are all around us. We just have to learn how to see it. That’s what I want my students to understand. I want my students to see, think, and wonder about the amazing things that are going on around them every day and how that has been happening from the beginning of time. They are a part of those amazing things.
What advice would you give to teachers who want to use Library of Congress resources in their work?
Believe it or not, there is something for everyone. I highly recommend the Summer Teacher Institutes, free week-long professional development for K-12 educators. The institute allows you to develop ways to use primary sources within your classroom. If you can’t attend an institute, visit the Teachers page to do some exploring on your own.