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ESSER funds provide teachers with summer learning CoLabs

ESSER funds provide teachers with summer learning CoLabs

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CoLabs are free learning workshops available to teachers over the summer.

The Colorado Department of Education is using $125,000 in ESSER funding to pay for a summer learning series for teachers called CoLabs that will be offered in June in Grand Junction, Greeley and Pueblo.

CoLabs are one-day professional development conferences where teachers from all grade levels attend breakout sessions on multiple content areas such as English language arts, math, physical education and science. Sessions are led by faculty from institutions of higher education, experts from professional teaching organizations and CDE staff. Teachers who attend get free lunch and can earn PD credits.

“The purpose of this is to try to make this as useful to teachers as possible,” said Samantha Messier, director of CDE’s Standards and Instructional Support team, which developed and organized the CoLabs. “Part of what makes this special is it brings professional learning to districts that are outside of the Denver area.”

Last year, more than 300 teachers representing more than 40 school districts attended the three summer sessions.

Teachers surveyed after the events say the experience was very useful and the learning could be applied to their everyday classroom work. This year, there will be sessions on math, English language arts, social studies, computer science, science and P.E. but will also have sessions focused on the social and emotional well-being of educators.

“One of the exciting parts is the opportunity to better serve elementary school teachers,” said Raymond Johnson, mathematics content specialist with CDE. “CoLabs gives them the opportunity to go to several sessions in one place. They can go to a literacy session, an arts session, a math session. It’s all under one roof.”

Last year content experts from several Colorado professional teaching organizations presented, including the Colorado Association of Science Teachers, the Colorado Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Society of Health and Physical Educators and the Colorado Language Arts Society.

The ESSER funds help reimburse travel expenses for some of the presenters including keynote speakers.

Here is the schedule for this June:  

For general questions and answers about Teaching and Learning CoLabs, contact Samantha Messier at, director of CDE's Office of Standards and Instructional Support.