KID Museum hosted a teacher appreciation event earlier this month, and two speakers got me thinking about artificial limitations we put on adults and kids alike. Our guests’ remarks and their own journeys illuminated what it takes to break through those self-constraints and open our minds to all we can be and do.
The first moment of inspiration came from a political legend in Maryland, Isiah “Ike” Leggett, who was a Montgomery County Councilmember and then County Executive during more than 30 years in elected office. Few people would have bet on that becoming Ike’s path while he was growing up in Louisiana during the 1940s and ’50s. He was one of 13 kids living in a three-room house with no electricity or plumbing.
“My vision of the world was captured in that small space,” he told the crowd at KID Museum, “but I had teachers that taught me there was a broader tomorrow.”
"I had teachers that taught me there was a broader tomorrow.”
- Ike Leggett
Reminder #1: Great teachers help kids see what’s possible for them.
After Ike, we heard from two Montgomery County educators, the principal and a teacher at Shady Grove Middle School. KID Museum’s long-standing partnership with the school has taken multiple forms over the years, but teacher Jo Belyea-Doerrman cited online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic as a period when she particularly appreciated having KID in her corner, when KID’s team assembled kits of materials so classes could continue maker learning remotely.
Learning while apart, Jo told us her students began to realize “they weren’t just makers at school or at KID Museum. They were suddenly able to be makers at home.”
Reminder #2: Maker learning can happen anywhere.
The combination of these two lessons undergirds a new program for teachers that KID Museum is launching this summer: the Teach for the Future Fellowship.
Sixty fellows will start in July with workshops on maker learning and how to incorporate 3D modeling, coding, fabrication, and circuitry in their classrooms. Then they will continue online and in person throughout the upcoming school year. Participants will receive $1,000 and a stipend for materials to encourage maker learning in their classrooms.
The program prioritizes Maryland teachers of underserved and underrepresented student populations, however, classroom teachers and school-wide educators throughout the DC region are invited to apply. The fellowship is open to STEM specialists, of course, but we are also seeking educators who don’t see themselves as scientists or technology experts, or as particularly handy or creative. It’s not only kids who put artificial limitations on themselves; we adults do it, too.
As the Teach for the Future Fellows build a community among themselves, KID Museum and our partners at the Universities at Shady Grove are eager to learn from them. We are excited to learn more about what professional learning opportunities help educators develop a mindset that we call the Mind of a Maker — and how those skills translate to student outcomes. These learnings will then be applied to KID’s programs for educators and shared broadly for adoption in schools anywhere.
If you know an elementary or middle school teacher who would be a strong candidate for the Teach for the Future Fellowship, encourage them to apply.
They just might be surprised by what they can do.
to the Inter-American Development Bank! KID Museum has been selected as one of the winners of the 2022 Improving Lives Grant as we work to address the needs of low-income members of the Latin American community.
at the Invent the Future Celebration on June 3 – a day of activities, exhibitors, fun, and most importantly, a celebration of what innovations middle school students from around the region have created to improve life on our planet.