District & School-Based Learning Labs

The work of INSPIRE and its approach to professional learning (including learning labs) can now be found through UW ConnectEd: Professional and Community Learning here. Find out more about learning labs and other custom designed experiences here.

The Model

A Learning Lab is a model for job-embedded professional learning that utilizes the Learning Cycle, developed over the past 15 years with UW College of Education faculty, and partners at multiple universities. The Learning Cycle is a structure for supporting groups of educators in learning to grow their craft in collaboration with one another. It is a useful tool for:

•    Exploring new ideas and putting them into practice immediately
•    Developing a focus on educator learning goals alongside student learning goals
•    Developing a culture of collaboration among participant teams
•    Increasing the capacity for educators to integrate new learning into their classrooms


The Learning Labs model is meant to be a tool for professional learning communities to take up as their own. The goal is for the practitioner teams to grow their capacity to lead Labs independently. Many regional schools and districts that began with small university supported enterprises are now significantly growing the numbers of teachers involved in Labs. These schools and districts are also increasingly able to facilitate Labs with internal leaders– with intellectual support from university-based facilitators and the growing network of practitioners leading this work in the region. It is this shared ownership and practitioner leadership that renders Labs sustainable– by making it possible to expand the network of people using Learning Labs to grow ambitious teaching practices.

The Labs model has been used by schools in these regional districts:

Kent, Federal Way, Seattle, Blaine, Edmonds, Sedro-Woolley, Nooksack Valley, Renton, Quil Ceda Tulalip, Burlington, Yelm, Auburn, Riverview, & Evergreen

Our Role

INSPIRE serves as an incubator for new users to learn about the Learning Labs model. This may look like:
•    Formal research-practice partnerships: Currently Dr. Jessica Rigby is leading a team of College researchers and district leaders on understanding principal and coach leadership practices in implementing Labs. This project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Learn more.
•    Informal scholar-practitioner partnerships: Currently we are collaborating with Seattle’s Department of Education and Early Learning and Seattle Public Schools to co-facilitate Labs with a new grouping of educators– teams of math and literacy interventionists— in levy-supported elementary schools.

INSPIRE also strives to help network longtime and new Lab users to share learning across efforts. One of the ways that we do that is with our Learning Lab Network gatherings. For more information on these, see the video below with reflections from our March 2017 meeting.

Another way that we build networks and share our learning with other teacher education entities across the region, country, and beyond is by supporting Teacher Education by Design (tedd.org).

For more information contact Deborah Massachi (massachi@uw.edu).