This post is by Tyron Bey, the 2023-2024 Library of Congress Teacher in Residence.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in Richmond, VA. I am a product of and former teacher in the Richmond Public Schools system. After high school, I served in the U.S. Air Force as a Services Troop with the intent to learn sports management. After my enlistment, I attended THE Virginia State University where I studied political science. After graduating, I became a founding member of Virginia’s first elementary charter school. Then, I began my career as an educator at the middle school I attended in Richmond. After leaving Richmond, I came to the DC area and have taught in public schools in Washington, DC, and Prince George’s County, Maryland.
I love old architecture, and completing home improvement DIYs. I have an amazing wife and an awesome son.
How has using primary sources changed your teaching?
Using primary sources helps students to connect the dots. It’s imperative that we find sources that will tell a story. As a teacher, I’ve changed my pedagogy by having students see the story that we are researching. Then, I assess students by having them retell the story in their own words. Using primary sources has helped students give very rich explanations to their learning.
Why did you apply to be the Teacher in Residence?
My wife encouraged me to apply because she saw how the work that I was doing in my class matched what the Library’s philosophy of teaching was looking for in the Teacher in Residence. I researched the opportunity and agreed with her and applied. I was so nervous, but I see this opportunity to set up my next step in the world of education.
What are your goals for your year in Residency?
I have some goals that I hope to achieve during this residency. I have a lesson and activity that has my students examine the cases of Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. I want to incorporate Library resources to deepen existing curriculum so that my students, who primarily come from Central American countries, can make connections between their native countries and life in the U.S. Hopefully this will be one piece to help us as a people see that in spite of our faults, we have something to be proud of, and move to do more that will continue to make us proud. Finally, I want to further the Library’s connections with other institutions and organizations.
What advice would you give to teachers who want to use primary sources in classroom activities given the push to meet standards and ensure success on standardized tests?
I would say boldly do it. Tiger Woods’ father taught him how to play golf. When he became the youngest person to win the Masters tournament, golf professionals felt they had to change courses, making Tiger Proof Courses. Tiger has won on all of those courses. I relate this to teaching which you must do boldly. Tests will never go away, but preparing your students for the test includes teaching them strategies. Using primary sources in various modalities throughout instruction is teaching your students how to tackle obstacles they might experience as they take the test.
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