High Five the Learning Labs!

Nov 14, 2018

When was the last time you had the opportunity to turn and high-five a teacher friend about a student’s breakthrough in your classroom?

We all know the moment. The moment when you’re trying something new with your kids in your classroom and it’s pure magic…or laughter….or a breakthrough…and you look around to see if anyone else saw what you saw. The lightbulb…the perseverance…the first time this kinder figured out all the sounds in her name to write it on her paper. It’s pure magic and we want to share it.

It’s so funny; we spend our days with people–littler people, bigger people–but we are often alone to experience the heartache, the hope, and the breakthroughs. Learning Labs help us feel a little less alone; we get the privilege of kidwatching as they grapple with content in our classrooms– teachers get to watch learning unfold side by side.

Learning Labs are a professional development structure designed to embed our professional learning in the context of the classroom. This year, thus far, teachers have opened their classrooms to their colleagues watching kinders make books, middle school scientists uncover the molecular structure of diamonds (real diamonds!), and mathematicians figure out how math makes the world more beautiful. Teachers have welcomed their colleagues into their classrooms as they figure out Story Workshop, Number Routines, and Interactive Read Aloud. Consultants Lanny Ball and Cris Tovani have opened their teacher hearts in front of us, as have countless Evergreen teachers as they host their colleagues so we might all learn together.

Each time we gather, there is a rhythm to Learning Labs. We name what we’re trying to figure out; we are vulnerable with each other as practitioners. We watch kids learn with the purest of intention and focus on student learning. We listen carefully to kid talk and meaning-making. We turn to best practice research in our field to honor what we saw in the teacher’s sacred space. We then think about our own practice and what we feel inspired to try in our own classrooms. Learning Labs offer incremental, supported development in the art of our teaching–teachers elevating their practice side by side.

Maybe you’ll high-five in a Learning Lab soon? Or, in my case, you might be moved to tears at the artistry of a teacher friend and their dedication to student learning.

Karrie Fansler Learning Design Specialist
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