Michigan Teacher Excellence Program (MITEP): A Model for Improving Earth Science Education Nationwide
Lead Partner: Michigan Technological University
Core Partner: Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS)
Supporting Partners: Grand Rapids Area Pre-College Engineering Program (GRAPCEP), Midwest National Parks, Cass Technical High School, American Geological Institute, Grand Valley State University Geology Department, Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center
Michigan Teaching Excellence Program (MITEP) is a multi-year program of teacher leadership development that empowers middle-grade science teachers to lead their schools and districts through the process of systematically improving science teaching and learning. The project uses Earth Systems Science(ESS)content and inquiry-based instructional practices to emphasize themes that unite all sciences and mathematics. MITEP includes both summer and academic-year components, and uses a variety of on-site, residential, field, distance, and in-service delivery methods. Components promote leadership skills, collaboration, urban place-based inquiry, access to cutting-edge data and materials, technology, engagement of diverse learners, study of key scientific concepts that cross disciplinary boundaries, pedagogical innovation. The project will also implement and test lessons and units that challenge students and prepare them for further science study. Teachers receive stipends and credit as incentive for participating in the project and testing its approach to reform.
The project is based on the premise that successful reform depends on the full involvement of teachers who have the skills to lead their colleagues through the process of developing and implementing new instructional approaches. MITEP teacher-leaders and research university faculty are full partners in the process. Teacher-leaders are at the forefront of their schools' and district's efforts to evaluate, design, implement, and test new inquiry-based instructional programs. MITEP teacher-leaders help develop common pacing schedules and course assessments. They assist with planning professional development activities and providing ongoing assistance to colleagues. MITEP teacher-leaders are encouraged to disseminate information about the project through presentations at state and national conferences, to submit papers for publication.
Teacher-led reform is strongly supported by the administration of the core school district partner as an innovative way to generate enthusiasm for curricular and instructional change. To encourage development of leadership skills, school administrators give teacher-leaders progressively increased responsibility for strengthening curriculum, improving instructional strategies, and designing assessments. District administrators are providing the resources required for teachers' success in implementing and coordinating the project by assisting with the selection of teachers with exceptional leadership qualities for participation in MITEP;assisting in the design of professional development activities that meet the needs of teachers and their students; providing flexibility in teachers' schedules; utilizing middle-grade teachers' expertise in the dissemination of information to primary and high-school teachers; recognizing, rewarding, and encouraging teachers who serve as leaders; fostering growth of a teacher network; and creating a district-wide atmosphere that nurtures teacher-led reform efforts.