National Education Summit July 27–28 Will Feature More Than 30 Free Sessions for Educators

Educators across the country are facing unforeseen challenges and rising levels of uncertainty in the classroom. As part of its 175-year commitment to education, the Smithsonian will host a free two-day National Education Summit to celebrate teachers and share instructional strategies and resources to ensure that every leaner has the opportunity to thrive. 

The National Education Summit will be held Wednesday, July 27, and Thursday, July 28. The summit will bring together thousands of teachers, museum educators, curriculum specialists, librarians and education agencies from across the nation to discuss key issues in education and explore learning strategies with Smithsonian experts and collaborators. First launched in 2021 as “Educators Day,” this is the second annual National Education Summit from the Smithsonian.

The theme of this year’s summit is “Together We Thrive: Creating Our Shared Future Through Education.” Discussions will address the unique challenges facing educators today and inspire participants to rethink what is possible for the future of education. The two-day summit features over 30 virtual and in-person sessions, including keynote presentations, plenary sessions and workshops. Sessions will address a wide array of topics of critical importance to educators including innovative lesson design, cultivating social-emotional learning, teaching diverse stories and sharing tools and resources to enhance learning. 

“The summit comes at a time of uncertainty and challenge in our nation, but also a time of great hope and imagination to rethink all that is possible in education and the shared future we hope to inspire and make reality,” said Monique Chism, the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for Education. “We are bringing together experts and practitioners from across the education landscape to have the difficult conversations needed to address these challenges and provide teachers with the resources and solutions they need to inspire their students.” 

The summit will engage participants from every corner of the educational ecosystem¬¬—from classroom teachers to curriculum developers, journalists, researchers and policymakers—to convene holistic conversations on education policy, practice and strategy. Featured speakers include Chism; Jason Reynolds, No. 1 New York Times bestselling children’s book author and poet; Soledad O’Brien, award-winning documentarian and journalist; Kurt Russell, the 2022 National Teacher of the Year; and Aaliyah Samuel of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. Additional speakers will include Smithsonian educators and experts; state Teachers of the Year; representatives from federal agencies including the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Department of Education; and representatives from the Smithsonian’s various education collaborators, including PBS LearningMedia, the Library of Congress and Harvard University’s Project Zero. 

Registration and a full list of sessions and speakers are available on the summit’s website. Advanced registration is required, and some sessions may have capacity limits. Virtual-session highlights are below; all programs are listed in Eastern Time. 

Wednesday, July 27

12–12:50 p.m.: Exploring Women’s History Through Portraiture: From Queen Liliʻuokalani to Shirley Chisholm
Participants are invited to join Smithsonian educators and a classroom teacher as they introduce portraits, strategies and lessons for teaching the history of women in the United States, with a focus on drawing connections to the present. The session seeks to empower educators and students by introducing them to new ideas for integrating art and civics that center on women’s stories. Participants will receive access to free classroom resources.

3–4:15 p.m.: Plenary: Let’s Talk: Our Shared Future Through Education 
Since January 2021, 42 states have introduced bills or taken other steps that would restrict teaching or limit how teachers discuss racism, sexism and gender identity. To date, 17 states have imposed these bans and restrictions either through legislation or other avenues. As part of the Smithsonian’s initiative Our Shared Future Reckoning with Our Racial Past, Soledad O’Brien and representatives from the National Council for the Social Studies, National Council of Teachers of English, National Science Teaching Association and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics will discuss their joint position statement “The Freedom to Teach.” The panel will begin with remarks from Anna King, the CEO of the National Parent Teacher Association, who will offer a national perspective on what the association is hearing from parents and communities across the nation.

4:15–5 p.m.: Smithsonian Technology Café
In this special edition of the Smithsonian Learning Lab’s Office Hours series, the Smithsonian and guest educators offer targeted help for using the Learning Lab to translate National Education Summit ideas to teachers’ classrooms. Participants will be introduced to the lab, explore student-tested techniques, ask questions and get advice on drafts.

Thursday, July 28

12–1:30 p.m.: The Perfect Primary Source Combination
Resources from the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian and other cultural institutions can be engaging teaching tools—but paired together, they can be magical. This session will highlight four projects from across the country that combine collections in their work with educators and experience transformative results. Information about the Library of Congress’ Teaching with Primary Sources Consortium and grant program will be included. 

1:40–2:55 p.m.: Experts Weigh In: Early Learning in the U.S.
A solid foundation in early childhood is critical to later success. A panel of national leaders will discuss how equitable access to quality early learning experiences impacts students, schools and learning across the country and the educational spectrum. What does current research show and what are programming trends? What does the term “Universal Pre-K” really mean, and is it a good idea? How can outcomes be improved for all? Participants can explore these questions and other urgent issues with panelists who represent national and regional service providers as well as research-focused organizations.

3–4 p.m.: Closing Keynote: Jason Reynolds
Participants can join Monique M. Chism, the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for Education, for a conversation with award-winning children’s author Jason Reynolds. Reynolds is the current Library of Congress’ National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and author of more than a dozen  books for young people. He interacts with young people across the nation and helps galvanize youth to embrace and enjoy literature. He will share more about his own learning journey, creative works and what he is hearing from students across the nation that can help inform educators. In addition, there will be time for elements of fun, creativity and joy.

In addition to virtual programming both days, there will also be in-person programs July 28. Educators who attend in person will have the opportunity to engage directly with museum educators and experts from partner organizations to explore new strategies to enhance classroom instruction and develop practical transferable skills for their work. In person programs include keynote presentations, workshops and exhibition tours with museum educators that will focus on how museum resources can be a model for what is possible in the classroom and provide teachers with take-home resources. All in-person programs will be held at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery on Eighth and G streets N.W. Advanced registration is required for in-person programming.