About Spence

Teaching Institute at Spence


The Teaching Institute at Spence (TIaS) is a program for teachers with at least ten years of full-time experience, who are seen as highly effective in their schools.

The Institute aims to reveal something about teachers’ practice that they hadn’t noticed before, provide concrete tools to improve that practice, foster growth of colleagues back in their schools, and create a community of educators who can call on one another throughout their careers.
Location: The Spence School
Dates: June 26 - 30, 2023
Times: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a museum trip and working dinner until 9 p.m. on Tuesday, June 27
Cost: $1,450 after January 14, and $1,350 for schools with two or more participants. Registration fee includes breakfast and lunch plus one working dinner; housing not included.
Application Deadline: Wednesday, March 1

COVID Protocols: This program will follow the school's health and safety protocols. Vaccination is required for all participants.
We believe teachers can grow at every stage of their career.

We believe that teachers grow best when they make their teaching visible, reflect on their practice with others, and focus on student learning as evidence of effectiveness.

We believe that schools cannot get stronger without a culture of sustained teacher learning.

If you believe that we can grow in the science, the craft, and the art of teaching at every stage of our careers, and if you want to work with a group of distinguished educators to help one another be as good as we can be, we hope you will consider our Institute this summer.

Institute Directors

Danielle Passno
Danielle Passno is the Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning at The Browning School, a K-12 boys school in New York City. Prior to working at Browning, she was the Director of Outreach and Public Purpose at The Spence School. Many years ago, she taught at Boston University Academy and at The Webb School in Bell Buckle, TN. As an educator, Danielle is interested in teaching students to embrace mathematical habits of mind, working with teachers to improve their teaching and cause lasting learning in their students and using the resources of independent schools to create equitable education models. Danielle has a master’s degree from the Klingenstein Center at Teachers College, Columbia University, and she graduated from Dartmouth College in 2002. She loves being with her family, eating, practicing guitar, playing most sports, reading and writing.

Eric Zahler
Eric Zahler is the Director of Teaching and Learning and a math teacher at The Spence School, a K-12 girls’ school in New York City. He was previously at The Ellis School in Pittsburgh and The Crefeld School, an alternative school in Philadelphia where he taught math, science, philosophy, French and dance. Eric is interested in the craft, science and art of teaching, the ways teachers learn from one another and in how tiny incremental improvements can lead to revolutionary change. He can’t believe how much he is still learning after 26 years in the profession. Eric graduated from Swarthmore College in 1991. He loves cooking meals for family and friends, reading and asking good questions.
"I am reflecting more deeply and specifically about who the agent of learning is, who is doing the heavy lifting, and who is taking ownership of a learning outcome."

—  TIaS Participant
"I was empowered to think about what I wanted to change and with the help of my supportive colleagues, develop a process to move my teaching forward. You have been the best teaching coach I have had."

—  TIaS Participant
"There was this incredible shared balance of both support and vulnerability around the craft we all clearly love. The balance of inquiry and reflection through the week, the sincere desire to lift up one another’s practice while also tuning it, and the incredible care taken in giving each other feedback made me feel heard, understood, connected and challenged."

—  TIaS Participant