Indigenous Teacher Education Program (ITEP)


Indigenous Teacher Education Program (ITEP)

this mornings blog thoughts out loud is related to my experience at Think Indigenous 2016. as administrators begin to complete plans for the #2017 event coming up pretty quick, i thought to share this tidbit in case any one might be interested in attending. if you can go, please do. it’s worth every moment of your time, especially if you work in teacher-education or are a Native teacher.

the program which is housed in Treaty 6 territory at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK, Canada works specifically in Indigenous teacher education and training. it is an area of education that is specific to recruiting, retaining, and graduating Indigenous First Nation teachers. this program also works to help create opportunities for students to work in their home communities with an emphasis on “Building on the strength of Indigenous knowledge, ITEP is made stronger through the pride in our culture, language and traditions.

it is a specific area of teacher professional development that pertains to preparing Indigenous First Nation pre-service teachers to serve their communities and address the unique needs of Indigenous First Nation students.

i had the privilege to attend #ITEP #2016 with support from my program and departments at the WSU College of Education. with an outcome based research initiative, the support was to help develop the area of teacher education here. the opportunity helped to enhanced some of most recent opportunities we’ve had that further enhanced and created a working relationship with the Nez Perce Tribe Education Department STEP Project while also in partnership with Washington state education Office of Native Education. The outcomes have also resulted in partnerships with local public school districts in Eastern Washington that my professor and i were able to secure over the course of the last couple years.

while at Think Indigenous 2016, i sat through keynote presentations and was tremendously inspired by the caliber of speakers who were either alumni of ITEP, or somehow influenced by the Indian Control of Indian Education mandate. closely aligned with what i would like to share, and, as it relates to developing culturally responsive education and the movement toward decolonization, ITEP is an exceptional teacher-educator program for Indigenous First Nation students.

i consider myself a newby to the movement of decolonization. not only on my academic journey, but also in my personal journey as well. as an Indigenous woman who was raised Dine i make my home and am enrolled with Nez Perce.

it’s taken me a few years to get to this stage of personal growth and understanding of what it means to decolonize and i am continually working through that consciousness. while listening to the phenomenal speakers at this particular event, i was impressed with how each of those Indigenous First Nation scholars and teachers, administrators, and professionals navigated through the settler system of higher education. the levels of resistance, sophistication, reclamation, and intellectualism was inspiring. it amazed me how each speaker shared how they removed the layers of systemic oppression within settler society as citizens of their nations and as ITEP alumni.

it occurred to me as i listened to one particular critique of the conference (they were not an education major and enrolled in Indigenous studies) on how both programs were unique and while not completely unrelated, had a different foci. pedagogy and research related, Indigenous epistemologies prevailed and are named within the education discipline. i emphasize that for participants who are not of the education discipline, if attending #ITEP #2017, please keep in mind, it is quite possible to have a different type of training and research foci.

further, professional development training in education differs vastly from other programs because, as it pertains to PK-12 classroom experience, teaching in the PK-12 classroom is not the same as teaching in university level courses which is lecture based on research and readings.

pK-12 teacher-education is where a pre-service teacher goes through a systemic process as any other Western education program requires. and this is what i appreciate about #ITEP which uses a teaching and learning methodology related to each of their students learning style and skill sets to help them advance cognitively. versus that of a university or tribal college department, where a professor lectures with the presumable expectation that their students can perform at levels of reading, writing, and comprehension necessary.

however, should a student not meet performance levels of reading, writing, and comprehension, its possible in such a program to overlook that a referral or academic intervention is needed to help a student succeed and redirect them toward academic student support services programming which is often where Indigenous First Nation students can get stymied in the higher education system. in one form or another, each speaker who was an alumni of #ITEP #2016 shared the programming at #ITEP helped them to succeed. the particular testimonies of this work was quite impressive.

in defense of the teacher education programs which are building teachers to work in already oppressive systems, please keep in mind (to those who are not in an education discipline) education as a discipline influences and effects the teaching and learning of all students and grade levels.

lecture style instruction does not necessarily help a student who struggles with behavioral factors in the home which is often the case when it comes to Native student learners in rural Indigenous communities. a teacher must be trained in these areas and essentially will become a social worker, extended relative, advocate, cheer squad, and foundation to their education.

this is what i believe #ITEP trains their students to teach and learn from. it involves doing things differently and with a quality teacher education program can result in positive long-term effects. to those who teach at a university or tribal college, remember, teacher education is a physical manifestation of that student who sits in your class. quality teachers and their pre-service training is essential.

in support of #ITEP, i co-sign and hope you can attend this exceptional Indigenous teacher education professional development conference in Treaty 6 territory and witness a program event that emphasizes helping shape Indigenous First Nation pre-service student teachers and learners.

lastly, i leave with this question… if a program, department, or curriculum does not include Indigenous faculty and administrators who can contribute certain aspects of Indigenous knowledge systems into a program, is it really culturally responsive?

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