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Photograph of Tyron Bay in the Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress
Tyron Bey, 2023-2024 Library of Congress Teacher in Residence

A Look Back at a Year of Primary Source Learning

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This post is by Tyron Bey, the 2023-2024 Library of Congress Teacher in Residence.

I can’t believe my time as Teacher in Residence is at an end. I’m really looking forward to getting back in the classroom but I am proud of my accomplishments. During my term as Teacher in Residence I’ve worked on many projects, including blog posts, an article, a primary source box, and presentations that highlighted many Library of Congress collections.

I’m ending my residency by focusing on a research project about wrestling, which to me is heaven. I learned about the true vastness of the Library’s collections while working on this project. A wrestling collection with hundreds of items may not be considered large by the Library’s specialists but it’s different when you really get to see it up close.

I was also glad to attend the 2023 National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) conference in Nashville this past December. In my school district, traditionally district level leadership attends NCSS. To have the opportunity to attend during my year as Teacher in Residence makes me excited to be more involved in the national civics community.

Another great experience has nothing to do with the residency but everything to do with the Library. I met Phylicia Rashad (you may know her as Claire Huxtable, but she’s currently dean of the College of Fine Arts at Howard University) when she brought students from Howard to the Library for a tour. It was cool to meet someone so famous.

The primary piece that I want to bring back to my school as I move into leadership is to make sure teachers know about opportunities like this. Too often we get so bogged down with the minutiae of day-to-day teaching that we truly miss great professional opportunities. Having the chance to take a sabbatical to further myself professionally has allowed me to return to the school setting with a different level of peace.

I’m definitely going to create a map research center within my classroom. When I visited the Library’s Geography and Map Reading Room and the reference specialists brought out maps in large folders, I loved the drama of opening each folder. I found myself diving into the maps to make inferences about the subject matter under study. My plan is to create a map center in my classroom that will give students more opportunities to analyze maps and have the same experience I did.

I’m also going to create primary source boxes like the ones that will be available for children and families in the Library’s upcoming interactive learning center. As teachers we may ask students to draw conclusions and write summaries of texts. We also need them to practice analyzing sources and challenging their peers to explore the topic in the same way.

My greatest challenge as Teacher in Residence was limiting the number of sources I presented as part of my projects. I really wanted to share all I learned and it was extremely difficult to choose what to use and what to leave out. I want to give students the chance to create their own primary source boxes. This will provide them the chance to grow their primary source analysis skills and walk away with a deeper understanding of the subject matter they are particularly interested in.

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  1. All the best to you, Tyron, as you return to the classroom with a year’s worth of primary source teaching ideas! Thank you for all you did during your tenure at the Library of Congress and for the enthusiasm and knowledge you shared across the country.

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