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Implementing Long-Term Professional Develop for Urban Earth Science Teachers, Insights from the Michigan Institute For Teacher Excellence Program


The Michigan Institute for Teacher Excellence Program (MITEP) is a multifaceted professional development program that targets Earth science teachers in the cities of Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Jackson, Michigan. The goal of the program is to elevate the content knowledge and pedagogy skills of teachers with limited Earth science training. This five-year program is advancing four cohorts of 12-24 teachers through three years of training that includes summer field experiences, professional development days, on-line course work, culminating experiences at national parks, and leadership opportunities within their districts. Teachers spend two summers constructing knowledge through field experiences. Each summer they spend one week in the Upper Peninsula and a week near their home district. In the Upper Peninsula they explore Keweenawan volcanics, rifting, and copper mineralization; water supply and quality, glacial deposits and climate change, wind energy, and the geologic history of the state. Close to home teachers explore the city water supply and flood history, shallow and deep aquifers, local glacial geology, late Paleozoic bedrock exposures, surface water quality, and coastal geology. Field days are correlated with Earth Science Literacy Principles, state and local standards, misconceptions, and district curriculum. Other university faculty members contribute their expertise in the field. During the school year teachers attend profession development days on topics they identified as areas of greatest need and participate in on-line Earth science and education courses. Teachers can apply course work towards a Masters degree in Earth Science education from Michigan Technological University. In their third year teachers serve internships in collaboration with Midwest national parks such as Isle Royale, Sleeping Bear Dunes, or Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Teachers have emerged as leaders, either in providing profession development for peers in the district or presenting their work at state science teacher meetings. Major challenges include teachers teaching out of field and instability of teacher placement within urban districts.