Model & Strategy
Teaching Lab’s mission is to shift the paradigm of teacher professional learning for educational equity. Teaching Lab’s values center on a commitment to antiracism and the pursuit of racial equity in education. In partnership with thousands of teachers, Teaching Lab transforms professional learning from the ground up to dramatically improve student outcomes.
Their approach reflects a revolutionary research-based model that is focused on improving teacher practice through the adoption of high-quality curriculum, professional learning that is designed to incorporate opportunities to change and improve instructional practices while also addressing teacher mindsets which can lead to more equitable outcomes, and through building community buy-in and new leaders within schools.
Teaching Lab partners directly with school communities to create “Labs” within schools and school systems. Labs are groups of 10-25 educators teaching similar content. These Labs are led by Lab Leaders who are experienced teachers and instructional coaches from within the schools which ensures that they are building the capacity for sustained instructional improvements within every school building.
Sarah Johnson was a trained scientist who decided to forgo a career in science after working as a teaching assistant and falling in love with teaching and learning. As a passionate public high school science teacher in DC and Oakland, she witnessed schools and school systems that failed to adequately serve students or teachers. For a time, she believed that the only way to truly transform teaching and learning was to dismantle a system that deprofessionalized teaching and, in turn, failed to provide all students with equitable access to educational opportunities.
Sarah was one of 25 leaders accepted to Harvard’s Educational Leadership Doctoral program where she studied systems-level leadership and developed a more nuanced understanding of how to engage in systems-change. She also worked directly with the Deputy Chancellor of Teaching and Learning in the New York City school system, helping to manage a division of 600 educators and rolling out continuous improvement initiatives to hundreds of educators and schools.
As a funder, Sarah was compelled by the vision of Teaching Lab’s co-founders, Max Wagner and Silas Kulkarni, helped provide early funding to them and then started to lead the organization in the fall of 2018. Through these experiences, she developed a vision for professionalizing teaching focused on ensuring teachers, like scientists, are given opportunities to understand and use the science behind learning and instruction while also engaging in ongoing growth through cycles of learning. She knows that none of this will happen unless we treat teachers like humans who deserve opportunities for growth and leadership starting on day one and extending throughout their careers. If we fail to see the “whole teacher,” we will not see or serve the “whole student.”
During the 2019-20 school year, Teaching Lab partnered with over 30 school systems across 12 states, developing the leadership capacity of over 4,000 teachers and impacting more than 316,000 students.
Teaching Lab has an evidence-based approach to professional learning (PL). Over the course of 2019-20, Teaching Lab collected the following evidence of impact:
-92% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that they are satisfied with “the overall quality of today’s professional learning session.”
-Teachers improved in the categories of having high expectations and racial equity mindsets by 33% between beginning and end of year.
-In Louisiana, where Teaching Lab serves 35% of the total student population:
- 49.9% of Teaching Lab students showed top growth in ELA, compared to 46.2% of students in non-Teaching Lab school systems.
- 44.3% of Teaching Lab students in our partner sites demonstrated mastery in ELA, compared to 38.6% in non-Teaching Lab school systems.
- Committed to the rigorous evaluation of their work, Teaching Lab has developed a best-in-class learning and research strategy and aligned data-management system.