I’m grateful to my school librarian who attended a Library of Congress week long Summer Teacher Institute a few years ago. She encouraged me to apply for this year, and as I reach the end of my week here in Washington DC at the Library of Congress, there are countless reasons I can think of as to why this has been a valuable experience. However, for the interest of time and space, I’ll just highlight 5 here.
1. Access to rare books and people who know about them. We were lucky enough to have John Hessler talk to us for almost two hours about the Waldseemueller Map and the book it was from. He even let me touch it! One of the high points of my week was hearing him talk about the artifacts he worked with. He’s basically a real-life Indiana Jones.
2. A better understanding of how to navigate all the primary sources and other resources the Library of Congress both houses and links to on their website.
3. Time to discuss, collaborate, and share with colleagues from all over the country. I learned so much not just from my fellow high school teachers, but also from elementary and middle teachers and librarians.
4. Not going to lie, some of the excitement of coming to Washington DC has to do with the access to restaurants in the area, like Hank’s Oyster Bar, Romeo & Juliet’s and cute little bistros of all kinds. I also ran into a former student in the Library of Congress Cafeteria (he confessed it had the best food) and was able to take him out for a meal, which was a delightful side benefit of being here.
5. The ability to sink in to a #weekofgeek. Having an entire week to really think about how to use primary sources and creating a lesson plan for my classroom has allowed me to dwell in possibility in ways I would not have achieved on my own.