Teacher Institute

Teacher Institute Summer Residency, 2013
Photo: Zak Artander, © MCA Chicago

The Teacher Institute is the MCA’s most immersive and collaborative professional development program. Twenty teachers are selected by application to be a part of this year-long program. Using the resources of the Museum and the expertise of talented, curious, and creative practitioners (you), together we ask: How can we close the gap between contemporary art and contemporary teaching and learning?  

Why Teacher Institute?

Because by participating in the program, you will:

  • Make the MCA your haven, your studio, your laboratory, your library, and your classroom for a year.
  • Join and influence a dynamic community and conversation around contemporary pedagogy.
  • Investigate the qualities of contemporary art and contemporary teaching and learning, paying close attention to the place of the creative process and inquiry in both pursuits.
  • Shake up and deepen your thinking and practice.
  • Expand the resources that you can call on to engage your students in meaningful learning, including strategies and tools to facilitate rich dialogue around contemporary art.


  • The Institute is free.
  • As a full and active participant in the year-long program, you will earn 45 CPDUs and 3 Lane Credits.
  • You will also receive priority in booking free, artist-led field trips (and free busing!) to the MCA to engage your students in investigating, too, what contemporary art can do to shake up and deepen learning.

What your colleagues have to say:

It seems like every time I leave our meetings I am thinking about everything that we discussed for days on end. The Institute seems to always find its way into my thoughts, ideas, and beliefs and change things around. I get very inspired to go back to the classroom and try new things and new ideas with students.
2012–13 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 5–9, 2013: 9 am–3 pm
    The Institute begins with an immersive week-long residence at the MCA, designed to be a time and space for you to recharge as a creative practitioner. Sessions include exercises inside and outside of the galleries focused on contemporary art and curriculum as creative practice, and independent and group work.
  • Fall Seminars (4 Saturdays)
    Sep 14, Oct 5, Nov 2, and Dec 7, 2013: 10 am–1 pm

    The Institute continues with monthly seminar meetings. These are designed to help you hone skills and generate resources to bridge the experiences we have in the museum with what can happen in the classroom.
  • Winter and Spring Action Research
    Jan–May 2014
    During the Winter and Spring Terms of the Institute, the emphasis shifts from group inquiry to individual action research around the Institute’s central inquiry question: How can I close the gap between contemporary art and teaching and learning in my classroom?
  • Share-Out
    Sat, May 25, 2014: 10 am–1 pm
    The Institute culminates in a public event to share the new knowledge produced during the year.

How do I apply?

Download and complete the application (doc). E-mail it to teacherprograms@mcachicago.org by Monday, June 10, 2013. Applicants will be notified by June 21.

Who can apply?
The MCA invites Chicago Public School teachers of all academic disciplines and grade levels to apply. Some spaces will be reserved for non-CPS teachers. A total of 20 teachers will be selected to join the 2013–2014 cohort. Accepted teachers must be available for the full year-long program.

What if I can only come for the summer residence?
The Institute is designed to be a year-long commitment. Only those teachers who are able to commit for the entire year will be accepted. That said, the MCA offers a whole host of rich single-day professional development programs during the year. Check our website for more information, and join our Educator e-mail list to keep current with what’s happening for educators at MCA Chicago.

Not sure if the Institute is right for you?
Make an appointment to chat with Lauren C. Watkins, Manager of Teacher Programs over the phone or in person at the MCA. E-mail teacherprograms@mcachicago.org or call 312.397.3840.