Learning Labs provide an in-depth view of IFL lessons, instructional practices, and Principles of Learning in action. During a Learning Lab, a small number of participants (5-10) come together to observe a teacher's classroom instruction with a specific focus in mind. For example, participants might consider how students build on one another's thinking, how the teacher facilitates large-group discussion, or how students engage in text-based writing. During the post-observation debrief, they have conversations about what they saw and heard happening in the classroom, any wonderings they might have, and plans for their next steps for instruction.
The host teacher is provided a safe environment in which to open up his or her classroom. An IFL facilitator coaches the lab teacher prior to the observation via email and/or phone. Participants receive a focus for the observation from the lab host and are given guidance on how to take descriptive notes based on the lens for the focus observation. The IFL facilitator then guides participants through a structured discussion protocol to ensure that everyone participates in the discussion and that the level of discourse is positive and respectful.
Learning Labs not only provide a window into the host teacher's instruction, but also serve as mirrors for observers to reflect on their own instruction and how they can make adjustments to it in the future. Learning Labs have been highly effective for supporting school-wide implementation of IFL curricula and instructional practices. When teachers can see the work in action, they are better able to implement these practices in their own classrooms.