The Studio Day is a powerful professional development component that provides a critical connection between a broader project or goal and the classroom itself. 


Careful facilitation is key to productive Studio Days. MEC can facilitate Studio Days as a part of a project or in addition to a workshop or institute with the goal of preparing local leaders to do so sustainably.


Studio Day participants follow a lesson observation protocol, observe classroom teaching, and use the observation to learn how to ensure high cognitive demand in mathematics lessons and teaching pedagogies.

Studio Days are designed to:

  • De-privatize practice to build a professional community, while developing shared images and understandings. They provide a lens through which to reflect back on our own work and the opportunity to examine, refine and advance our practice;
  • Deepen teachers’ mathematical content knowledge for teaching and enhance participants’ understanding of the Standards for Mathematical Practice;
  • Provide opportunities to recognize and enhance the cognitive demand of tasks and lessons and integrate that knowledge into our practice.

The Studio Day teacher opens her/his classroom for the observation of a lesson and the day follows the format below (a more detailed agenda can be found in the Goals and Content document):

  • Participants meet for a pre-observation session where they examine the goals of the lesson, do the math themselves and share strategies, analyze the cognitive demand of the task(s), anticipate student conceptions and misconceptions, reflect on the plan to teach the lesson and establish a focus for the observation.
  • The teacher enacts the plan in the Studio Classroom while participants observe and collect data specific to the observation foci using the Classroom Observation Guide.
  • The Studio Teacher and participants debrief the lesson, examine and analyze the discourse data, discuss the impact of the plan and the teaching moves on student learning, and reflect on the implications for their own individual and collective practice and set goals for the future.


Downloadable Studio Day Resources:


Lessons Learned About Studio Days:

“When we take the time to ‘do the math’ it helps tremendously to get the most out of the observation.  We know what we are hoping for/expecting but also some of the pitfalls and strategies that we might see. It enriches the process in ways I could not have anticipated.”
8th Grade Teacher, Washington State

“Seeing an actual classroom is rewarding in that it is authentic & gives us a view of what we can do as teachers.  We don’t expect perfection and it might seem ordinary while we observe but as we de-brief afterwards it is amazing what it becomes because of the holistic view everyone’s input provides.  I am always so impressed with the lesson but especially after the richness of our combined observation.   I always have a take-away from the lesson.  This is my 3rd Studio Day & I have presented the lesson to my class each time as I plan to do after today as well.  Having seen/worked/discussed it so thoroughly, I am more confident to try it out.  Even if it doesn’t go as well, I have increased my skills and am motivated to challenge myself in my classroom.”

7th Grade Teacher, Washington State

“The biggest take away from today’s learning was providing opportunities to recognize cognitive demands with tasks for students.  This goal was met by observing a class of 7th graders wrestling with Can You See?  Students left the task at a point of disequilibrium and will be genuinely engaged in the work / tasks that they will do next – a perfect set-up for an engaging follow-up.

The two other goals I believe were met for me is the productive planning & the in-the-moment reflection.  These pieces direct me & teachers I work with to value the pre-planning (hopefully a collaborative pre-planning) as well as the real time in-the-moment reflection.  I am feeling in my coach role that this is something I can work on in my own practice and model when teaching in classrooms as well as point out what in-the-moment reflection looks like to principals–this is complex work which takes practice.”

Math Coach, Washington State

“I found the studio day very valuable.  Two things in particular stood out to me.  First, the facilitation was superb.  The conversation was calmly directed so that the thinking remained on topic and allowed people to get below the surface of their observations and impressions.  There never was a time where it was awkward or uncomfortable even though the talk was specific and probing.  Second, your probes around student “agency” blew me away.  Your ability to identify that what is typically considered an effective classroom management strategy can actually be working against building student agency was like straining gnats within the pedagogical kingdom. The day was very powerful, leading to teacher growth for all.”

Principal, Washington State