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The Henry Ford Innovation Project
https://www.theinnovationproject.org/

Rachel Lamb

Image: Rachel Lamb | Photo by Nick Hagan

Rachel Lamb

Profession: Elementary School Teacher

Innovation: Gets students who never want to get involved eager to get involved

Attributes: Risk Taker, Rule Breaker, Fearless Collaborator

Teachers are tasked to blend technology with teaching every day. But there are a select few who are adding true innovation inside the classroom. Rachel Lamb is one of them.

Lamb, 34, started as an elementary teacher in Albuquerque, New Mexico, 11 years ago. She has considerable experience working with children from a variety of backgrounds, some challenging. According to Lamb, her own upbringing is what makes her more open to exploring new learning techniques to help discover what makes her students tick. Her mother, a product of missionary parents, grew up living on reservations and was a teacher who liked to push boundaries. Her father, a member of the Navajo Nation, taught his daughter early on that you can climb out of a disadvantaged background.

“My dad was born on a dirt floor in a hogan [a Navajo structure made of wooden poles covered with tree bark and mud]. He had eight siblings, grew up with no electricity or running water. He went to boarding school and was separated from his family,” said Lamb, who added that her father, a skilled welder, prized education and taught her to do the same.

So five years ago, when fellow teacher (and now husband) Steven Lamb suggested they team-teach via video conferencing, she was immediately receptive to the bold idea. The two used existing digital tools, team-teaching their students two to three times a week in their separate classrooms at schools that were miles apart. More recently, the two took their collaborative classroom effort to the next level, using The Henry Ford’s Model I learning framework, which is based on the artifacts and stories in The Henry Ford Archive of American Innovation, for digital team-teaching between their second- and fourth-grade classes.

“(Mrs. Lamb) is one of those teachers who loves teaching and helping kids grow … She got the students involved who were never involved,” said Marie Alarid, whose daughter is a former student of Lamb. “She made learning fun and exposed them to a variety of things outside the regular school day.”

Lamb said that sharing knowledge digitally between different elementary grades at different schools “has a profound effect on student learning.” She further added: “The second-graders actually taught the fourth-graders a few things.”

Always focused on the next big idea, Lamb recently exposed not only her students but her entire community to another bit of educational tech. She made a request to Tinybop, the company behind The Human Body educational science app, asking if she could translate the app into Navajo as part of a collaborative language exercise between her students and the local community. Tinybop agreed. Using the app, Lamb’s students and community members were able to work together to translate terms of the human body from English to Navajo.

Her innovative idea for the science app helped her win acclaim as one of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation Teacher Innovator Award winners in 2018, an accolade she now shares with her husband, who won the same award the previous year for the digital team-teaching he conducted with his future wife.

- Marti Benedetti

Teacher Innovator Awards

The Teacher Innovator Awards, sponsored by The Henry Ford and Litton Entertainment, the producers of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation, recognizes teachers who inspire their students to be bold and think creatively, who are resourceful and who make a positive impact on those around them, from their students to their community. Each year, 10 grand prize winners enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip to The Henry Ford for an immersive experience, including an introduction to innovation curricula, such as The Henry Ford’s Model I framework, that they can take back and apply in their classrooms.

“Educators are my heroes,” said Lucie Howell, chief learning officer for The Henry Ford. “They are the first adopters, the people who run with what we share and make an impact. They are Model I examples — always curious, ready to take risks and they never back down from a challenge.”

To learn more or to nominate a teacher for the 2019 Teacher Innovator Awards, visit thf.org/teacherinnovator.

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