We believe in children.
- Children are capable thinkers and doers who must be taken seriously and treated respectfully.
- The education system has the power to either undermine the dignity of children, or to recognize and reinforce their full humanity.
- This power is applied primarily through teaching, but educators need ongoing support and collaborative opportunities to fully realize and apply their potential.
We believe children experience schooling through what teachers do.
- Beliefs and actions are entwined in effective teaching practices – including elicitation, discussion, explanation, assessment, and so on. While we know that teachers’ beliefs and orientations are essential, they are insufficient without an explicit focus on their instructional practices.
- As teacher educators, we must ensure that new teachers possess practices and dispositions to disrupt inequities in schools and classrooms.
We believe the primary purpose of teacher education must be supporting a just educational experience for all students.
- Teacher preparation programs have traditionally spent too much time reading, talking, and writing about teaching, to the detriment of teaching teacher candidates how to teach.
- Justice in teacher preparation is typically disconnected from the development of teaching practice.
- Teacher preparation has thus tended to ignore or reproduce inequities, when it needs to be focused on transforming classrooms into just, equitable, and safe places for children and learning.
We believe that striving for equity is critical, while recognizing that our identities can interfere with our work.
- We acknowledge that we are mostly white teacher educators with limited experiences of racialized injustice. We are therefore fully committed to:
- Continuously identifying and questioning the implications of our racialized identities for our work, including monitoring and constraining our tendencies toward policies and procedures representing normative, white approaches.
- Hiring a diverse, talented, and experienced staff in an organization where individuals are committed to the mission and respected for expressing diverse opinions, ways of working, and ways of knowing.
- The majority of teacher educators in the United States are also white, and we must act as co-conspirators with and through them to make meaningful and sustained progress.
We believe in critically examining ourselves and our actions.
- We continuously ask ourselves: What are the harms that we have committed and continue to perpetuate toward children and others? How can we minimize such behavior and its impacts, or eliminate them altogether?
- We continuously ask of teacher education: How can we prepare teachers to avoid repeating the harms we have experienced and enacted?
- We take a humble posture toward our own expertise and desire to learn from and hold each other accountable for continuous, professional and personal growth. We are also committed to giving others the space, time, and support necessary to make and learn from the many mistakes we have made.
We believe that we will make progress as an education system when we – as individuals and institutions across the enterprise – work collaboratively, not competitively.
We welcome critique and feedback for improvement only.
Karen Ahn is a co-founder and Chief Teaching Officer at MITEN, where she is responsible for many start-up and programmatic tasks (as is the reality for most founders). Previously, she served as the Director of Partnerships at TeachingWorks at the University of Michigan, where she co-founded and directed the Michigan Program Network, MITEN’s originating project. She also was a school leader at a charter school in Detroit, Michigan, and began her career in education as a lower elementary school teacher. Through all these roles, she has been committed to providing children - especially those who go unseen in a highly racialized America - with a much better and less harmful school experience through improvement of self and improvement with others.
Kevin Cunningham is an associate professor at Central Michigan University, where he has taught courses in elementary and secondary teaching methods for the past nine years. Prior to completing a doctorate in curriculum and instruction at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, Cunningham taught high school science for sixteen years. His current research interests involve describing learning progressions commonly observed in teacher candidates as they develop particular instructional practices. Cunningham is a founding member of MITEN and belonged to the organization that preceded it, the Michigan Program Network (MiPN).
Corey Drake is a Professor of Teacher Education and Elementary Mathematics Education at Michigan State University. For nine years, she was also the Director of Teacher Preparation at Michigan State. She began her teaching career as a teacher’s aide, after-school drama program director, and middle school special education teacher in the Chicago Public Schools before receiving her PhD in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University in 2000. Her research and teaching interests center on the roles of curriculum and teacher preparation in supporting teachers’ capacity to teach diverse groups of students in transformative and justice-oriented ways. Corey is the Chief Research Officer for MITEN.
Paula Lancaster is the Dean of Education and Human Services at Central Michigan University. She was formerly a professor of special education at Grand Valley State University where she also served as the Director of Teacher Education. She taught special education in the Chicago area for 8 years before obtaining her Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Kansas. Paula is a founding member of MITEN and served on the steering committee for the Michigan Program Network (MiPN).
Sean Lancaster has been a professor at Grand Valley State University the past 20 years. He teaches in the teacher preparation programs and chairs the department of Literacy and Technology. He earned his Ph.D. in special education from the University of Kansas. He previously taught in Junction City, KS and on the Fort Riley military base. Sean is a founding member of MITEN and was formerly on the steering committee for the Michigan Program Network.