Professional Development Programs for Educators

 A group of people look and gesture at something outside the frame. They are talking to one another.



Designed for classroom teachers, SAAM's interactive workshops feature engaging "Monday-ready" activities that provoke deep thinking and invite students to apply content knowledge across the curriculum and in the world. Get certificates of completion for seat hours and join a community of practice that stretches across the US!

In addition to our scheduled workshops, we are able to create customized, interactive digital workshops for in-service days. For more information, send an email to

2023-24 Programs

Electronic Superhighway
Summer Institutes: Teaching the Humanities Through Art
JUNE 24 - 27 OR JULY 22 - 25, 2024

Applications due April 1, 2024

Be inspired this summer! Attend the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s four-day summer institutes in the nation’s capital. Join a community of educators from across the country for an exciting exploration of the connections among American art, social studies, history, and English/language arts.

Cost is $100. Scholarships to support travel and lodging are available.

Self-Paced Courses

Inspiring Civic Engagement

Discover how museum objects can help learners explore the challenges and opportunities of living in a democracy and inspire civic action.

Interrogating the Stories We Tell

Explore how museum objects and works of art can broaden our perspectives, reveal silenced stories, and make relevant connections to our world today.

Interdisciplinary Teaching with Museum Objects

Educators from four Smithsonian museums will explore connections among their collections and model teaching strategies that participants can implement with their students, whether online or in the classroom.

2022-2023 Workshop Archive

A photorealistic painting of items on a table including an orange wedge, apple, a red rose, the Queen of Hearts and more.
Interactive Webinar: Inspiring Creative, Narrative, and Argumentative Writing with Art 
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2023 | 4:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M. (EDT)

Explore different styles of writing in response to contemporary American art. Leave with a digital set of evocative artworks, three distinct classroom activities, and practical teaching strategies for your classroom. 

This online webinar is part of “Cultivating Learning”, a series hosted by the Smithsonian’s Office of Educational Technology.


Media - 1980.107 - SAAM-1980.107_1 - 65846
Virtual Teacher Workshop: Apply History’s Habits of Mind; The American West
Wednesday, May 24 | 4:15 – 5:45 p.m.

How might we extend our thinking about the past by exploring sources from the present?

“The American West” has always been a place of multiple stories, experiences, and cultures. Examine works from this traveling exhibition to consider how the telling of history can be expanded through modern and contemporary art.

Online program. A Zoom link and a list of suggested materials will be sent to registered participants 24–48 hours in advance of the workshop.

Free | Registration required via Eventbrite

Cover of Communicating Across Differences Toolkit PDF
Virtual Teacher Workshop: Build SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) Skills
Wednesday, November 16, 4:15 – 5:45 p.m.

How can artwork help us exercise our interpersonal skills?

People are all different. Our bodies, families, beliefs, abilities, and experiences vary, sometimes making communication difficult. Artwork can often communicate what we do not have the words for across cultures and differences. In this virtual workshop, practice multiple approaches and gain new resources for building mutual understanding and connecting with others.

Online program. A Zoom link and a list of suggested materials will be sent to registered participants 24–48 hours in advance of the workshop.

Image of Abra Lee, Alma Thomas's Painting The Eclipse, and Janelle Wellons.
Alma Thomas: Teacher, Artist, Trailblazer (Part 2
Tuesday, October 18 | 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Join a rich conversation with aerospace engineer Janelle Wellons and horticulturist Abra Lee, as they reflect on artist Alma Thomas’s legacy as a STEAM trailblazer. Wellons shares insights on how visual images and inquiry can unlock the mysteries of the cosmos, while Lee unearths the histories of Black gardeners. Together, these reflections provide an in-depth understanding of Thomas’s cultural impact and the ways in which her work continues to inspire adults and students alike.

2021-2022 Workshop Archive

Pairing Art and Text (ELA)
Saturday, April 9, 2022

Develop strategies for identifying artworks that can help build and extend student comprehension of texts.

Visible Data: Making Meaning Through Art (STEAM)
Wednesday, February 16, 2022

How do artists convey complex interconnections clearly and compellingly?

Neighborhood Historians (Continuity and Change Over Time)
Wednesday, December 15, 2021

How can photographs challenge students to gauge what has changed and what has stayed the same?

Heart and Head: A Call to Action (Global Competencies)
Wednesday, November 17, 2021

What lessons can artists teach students, our future global leaders, about inspiring action?

Memorials and Memory (SEL)
Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Some artists are also veterans. How might their artworks give us and our students a way to feel loss and also connection? Presented with the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC).

Alma Thomas: Teacher, Artist, Trailblazer, Inspiration 
September 17, 2021

Join museum educators and art conservators from the Smithsonian American Art Museum for a "behind the scenes" look at the trailblazing artist Alma Thomas and the unique way she created her exuberant abstract paintings.

This online workshop was part of the Smithsonian’s First Annual Educator’s Day.

Past Programs

A slide from a presentation in which four works of art are accompanied by the text "How might you use these ideas in the classroom"

A Woman’s Place Is in the Curriculum: Women’s History through American Art and Portraiture

Learn how American art and portraiture can bring diverse women’s stories into your classroom.


a slide from a presentation with an artwork of people sitting on a house and text asking questions like "What are the parts of this story?" and "What do you see"

2020-2021 Archived Workshop Recordings

Look into our archive to find even more interactive, web-based workshops.

Educator Updates

Sign up to receive the latest updates on programs and resources.