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Teacher Institute 2.0


Six teachers sit on folding stools in front of an installation of drawings and photographs.

Teacher Institute, 2012

Joshua Longbrake © MCA Chicago


  • Applications for this session are closed.

For the 2015–16 session, visit.

The Teacher Institute continues to be the MCA’s most immersive and collaborative professional development program. It launches this summer with a new program design, aimed at helping teachers conceptualize, incubate, and implement innovative, contemporary curricula.

This year, the MCA will select 15 passionate, creative teachers who wish to shake up their practice and make an impact in the lives of their students as well as their school communities.

Applicants must propose a contemporary art–based project or unit to be developed during the Summer Residency, implemented in the classroom during the Fall semester, and reflected upon through writing and the production of a shareable resource in the Winter and Spring terms. We are looking for new projects that critically engage your students with the art and ideas of our time; champion inquiry and dialogue, build and engage community, and push beyond comfort zones.

Why the Teacher Institute?

Because by participating in the program, you will:

  • Make the MCA your haven, your studio, and your laboratory for a year while you develop a contemporary art–based classroom project. The MCA will provide support, including a modest budget for resources, to help make your project a reality.
  • Investigate the qualities of contemporary art and contemporary teaching and learning, paying close attention to the place of the creative process and inquiry in these pursuits.
  • Join a dynamic community and influence its conversation about contemporary pedagogy.
  • Deepen your students’ connection to the city’s cultural resources through a free, artist-led field trip to the MCA.
  • Intensify your students’ engagement with contemporary art through inquiry-based encounters with art objects.


  • The Institute is free.
  • As a full and active participant in the yearlong program, you will earn 42 CPDUs and 3 Lane Credits.
  • You will also receive priority in booking a free, artist-led field trip (with free busing) to the MCA.
  • What your colleagues have to say:

The Institute is for teachers who want to explore how to use contemporary works of art to facilitate rich discussions engaging students in critical questions regarding how we represent our shared experience of a rapidly changing world. . . . This program is for teachers who want to draw larger philosophical and worldly connections to the lives of their students. In the midst of a public education crisis, this program will leave teachers feeling hopeful, inspired and capable of change.

—2013–14 Teacher Institute participant

How is the Institute structured?

The Institute is designed and led by a talented teaching team. Annie Heckman and Rachel Harper are artists and educators who see their work in terms of both contemporary art and contemporary curriculum. Invited artists and educators also support the arc of the Institute during the year.

  • *Summer Residence (1 week = 5 days) Mon–Fri, Aug 4–8, 2014: 9 am–3 pm

The Institute begins with an immersive weeklong residence at the MCA, designed to be a time and space for you to recharge as a creative practitioner and dive head first into your project, with the museum and your cohort as resources. Sessions include exercises inside and outside the galleries focused on contemporary art and curricula as creative and social practice, and independent and group work involving your individual projects.

  • *Fall Seminars and Project Implementation (3 Saturdays) Sat, Oct 4, Nov 1, and Dec 6, 2014: 10 am–1 pm

As you return to the classroom to implement your projects, the Institute continues with three sessions at the MCA. These provide you with time to continue your professional growth while bridging the experiences we have in the museum with what is happening in your classroom. The semester culminates with a share-out/critique about your projects.

  • Winter and Spring Resource DevelopmentJan–May 2015*

During the Winter and Spring Terms, the Institute’s  emphasis shifts from project implementation to reflective writing and the production of shareable resources for the larger teaching community.

  • Teacher ExchangeSat, May 30, 2015: 10 am–1:30 pm*

The Institute culminates in a public symposium to share your projects and the related resources produced during the year.

How do I apply?

  • Applications for this session are closed.

For the 2015–16 session, visit.

Who can apply?

Chicago Public School teachers from all grade levels and academic disciplines are encouraged to apply. Some spaces may be reserved for non-CPS teachers. As this program requires work to be enacted in the classroom, applicants must currently be assigned to teach in a school for the 2014–15 academic year. Teachers must have a minimum of two years’ classroom experience.

What if I can only come for the summer residence?

The Institute is designed to be a yearlong commitment. Only those teachers who are able to commit for the entire year will be accepted. That said, the MCA offers a host of rich single-day professional development programs during the year. Check our website for more information, and join our Educator email list to keep current with what's happening for educators at the MCA.

Not sure if the Institute is right for you?

Make an appointment to chat with Lydia Ross, Programmer of Education: School and Teacher Programs, over the phone or in person at the MCA. Email [email protected] or call 312.397.3841.