AT African American History

Teachers with experience, insight, passion

Lab teachers, some of the best in the nation, keep classrooms dynamic and students inspired
The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools make a commitment to hire best-in-class teachers, who possess the background and skills to inspire and engage students. Faculty are chosen for their experience with students at a specific grade level, and as children make their way through the learning and growing process, Lab teachers serve as mentors and guides. They bring to their classes an  excitement about learning that is contagious. 

Lab teachers see learning as a two-way street—not only imparting information to students but creating an exchange between adult and child, child and peer, to question and explore.

Practiced teachers

Lab believes it is important to have practiced teachers 
All educators come to the Schools with at least several years of teaching experience, and eight out of ten Lab faculty have, at minimum, a master’s degree and often more. And the school is deeply committed to ensuring that the faculty reflects the same multicultural diversity found in our student body. Teachers routinely take part in professional development activities so that they may infuse each child’s class with new ideas, energy, and creativity. The effort reflects our strong belief in lifelong learning—to the great benefit of the students. 

Teaching that keeps adapting and evolving 
Nursery, Kindergarten, and Primary teachers have attended highly specialized sessions on early childhood teaching methods. In the Middle and High Schools, faculty are using a teaching structure, the “Harkness Discussion,” imported from the Exeter Humanities Institute. In these classes, there’s no need to raise hands—students share the responsibility to work as a community and carry on a respectful but challenging discussion of the material at hand. Several student observers take notes and then bring their reflections and leadership into the debate.

Lab teachers are recognized by our community—and nation—as leaders in their field

  • Eleven Lab teachers have won Chicago’s prestigious Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching—more than any other school in the city. Others have received the Kohl McCormick Early Childhood Teaching Award.
  • A MacArthur “genius” award and the Erikson Institute Award for Service to Children are among the achievements of author/teacher Vivian Paley, who spent most of her career at Lab. (Lessons from her acclaimed book You Can’t Say You Can’t Play shape Lab’s approach.)
  • Having taught for decades at U-High, Wayne Brasler won the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism, one of the industry’s highest honors, joining the likes of Tom Brokaw, Sir Winston Churchill, and Gloria Steinem. 
  • Lab teachers contributed to the University of Chicago Mathematics Project, the largest university-based mathematics curriculum project in the country. Their results included the nationally acclaimed Everyday Mathematics texts for elementary school students and Transition Mathematics, a middle school pre-algebra text.
  • Blue Balliett, world renowned author of Chasing VermeerThe Wright Three, and The Calder Game, based the acclaimed children’s mysteries on her experiences teaching students at Lab. (Read one to get a great sense of life around Lab.)
  • Lab classrooms are routinely visited by teachers and administrators from around the world who wish to experience firsthand the way Lab teachers integrate Dewey’s philosophy into their classroom experience.