Co-Labs for Innovation: Questions & Answers

Co-Labs for Innovation are a new approach to professional learning that is both highly personalized and collaborative. They are a way for educators to work smarter, not harder by leveraging the power of a network. Based on Improvement Science, Co-Labs are akin to Networked Improvement Communities (but are much more approachable if you think of them like a group of awesome educators experimenting and following the scientific method).

Here are a few answers to get you started. Reach out to Lindsey (lindsey@theteachercollaborative.org) if you'd like to learn more. You can also check out the three Co-Labs piloted in 2018 on Culturally Responsive Teaching, Mindfulness for Educators, and Innovative Design and Scheduling.


Who can join a Co-Lab?

Any PK-12 educator in Massachusetts who is interested in the selected topics. A strength of the Co-Lab model is bringing together educators who are diverse across a variety of dimensions--role, grade level, subject area, race and ethnicity, years of experience, and school types (district, charter and independent schools). 

What's the commitment of a Co-Lab?

Four in-person meetings and four virtual meetings (about 15 hours of meetings total), plus about an hour of work in between meetings where you are trying new things in your classroom or school and reflecting on what you're learning to share back with the group. If you’re interested in receiving PDPs, let us know!

When and where will Co-Labs meet?

Co-Labs meet either in Boston or Cambridge in the evenings. In-person meetings will be a 2.5 hours long from 5:15-7:45pm and virtual meetings will be 1 hour long from 4:30-5:30pm. See the detailed schedules for each Co-Lab. In-person meetings include dinner and parking.

How do I join a Co-Lab?

Complete this short enrollment form . We’ll be accepting team members on a rolling basis, so complete it as soon as you can! The form should take 5-10 minutes to complete and you can preview the questions before getting started.

Will you offer PDPs, grad credit, or stipends?

Yes! We’re excited to offer PDPs and are currently working out the details.

Other perks: Co-Labs are free for educators and include all materials, dinner, and parking for in-person meetings. As a member of a Co-Lab, you’ll also have access to a pool of funding to support trying something new in your classroom/school.

What happens during a Co-Lab?

During a Co-Lab, the team will follow a process that feels a lot like the scientific method. You’ll dive in and explore the challenge from different perspectives and connect to resources--and each other--to consider possible solutions. You’ll make a hypothesis and try out solutions in your classroom or school. You'll keep track of how it's going and share back with the group, ask for advice, and help each other make adjustments along the way.

By the end of the 12 weeks, you'll

  • gain a deeper understanding of the challenge,

  • be knowledgeable about solutions that work in different settings,

  • grow your practice, and

  • expand your connections to other passionate educators who you can continue to go to for support.

What happens after a Co-Lab?

The last step in the Co-Lab cycle is to pay it forward by publishing and sharing what the group learned with more educators. We will support each group to determine the format that makes the most sense based on the topic and the group's learning. Some ideas: share at an Educator Exchange, talk about the experience on our podcast (coming soon!), write a blog post, shoot a quick video, or create a short (2 page) resource document. 

Check out the summaries the 2018 pilot cohort created on Culturally Responsive Teaching, Mindfulness for Educators, and Innovative Design & Scheduling.

Co-Lab participants are also invited to keep the group going (formally or informally) or participate in a different Co-Lab in the future.