AACTE Grant Supports Strong Chapter Work in Michigan

Last year, an AACTE State Chapter Support Grant enabled members of the Michigan Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (MACTE) to build more collaborative relationships with PK-12 schools and the Michigan Department of Education in order to facilitate more meaningful and relevant discussion on the preparation of excellent beginning teachers. This work supported the chapter’s goal of “promoting, within Michigan, the learning of all PK-12 students through the promotion of high-quality preparation and continuing education for all school personnel.”

Many thanks to AACTE, we were able to host a summer workshop at Ferris State University, the primary accomplishment of which was the review and revision of the MACTE Strategic Plan that had been developed the previous year. Based on input from the workshop, the group decided to tailor the annual conference to provide a forum for examining and highlighting the increasingly pressing issue of beginning teacher evaluation and distinctive efforts to improve educator preparation.

The 2014 MACTE Fall Conference was hosted by Saginaw Valley State University in October. A highlight of the conference, “ED Talks”—so named in honor of the TED Talks model on which they were based—allowed faculty, deans, and directors of Michigan EPIs the opportunity to showcase one example of their current work to improve educator preparation. Speakers enjoyed 5-6 minutes of spotlight to share their stories. In sum, attendees representing Michigan public universities, private colleges, and the Michigan Department of Education presented eight talks:

  1. School-Based Preservice Teacher Preparation for Urban Settings — Jennifer Lewis, Wayne State University
  2. First Days of School Program — Lee Davidson, Andrews University
  3. “Do one thing every [semester] that scares you” — Joe Lubig, Northern Michigan University
  4. Back From the Brink (or at least on our way) — Donna Fiebelkorn, Lake Superior State University
  5. The Probability Predicament: A True Story of Math Assessment — Leah Breen, Michigan Department of Education
  6. The Professional Skills Lab as an Early Sign of Success or Remediation in Teacher Preparation — Reuben Rubio, Spring Arbor University
  7. Tripod Survey and CAEP Standards — Jim Rooks, Calvin College
  8. The 2023 Teacher Preparation Taskforce — Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, Central Michigan University

The following excerpt from Lubig, who is associate dean of the School of Education at Northern Michigan University, illustrates the kind of content presented in the first of what we hope will be many more forums like this to come.

My topic for this event focused on engaging undergraduate students in research. We emphasized our Freshman Fellows program and our McNair Scholars program whereby our undergraduate students are collecting and analyzing data through our clinical practice. These undergraduates have helped us design our collection and analysis tools for methods and student teaching observations. They have also partnered with faculty to study school environments and practicing teachers as connected to our program goals. This scholarship has resulted in six publications and/or presentations for our undergraduates over the past 2 years. We have trusted our students, and it is paying off.

Also at the conference, representatives of three prominent, nationally recognized approaches to teacher evaluation—edTPA, TeachingWorks, and the Danielson Framework for Teaching/Evaluation Instrument—gave presentations and facilitated follow-up breakout sessions to allow for more meaningful and relevant Q&A around the diverse program contexts and needs.

The ED Talks, the three presentations, and the accompanying colloquy made the 2014 MACTE Fall Conference a resounding success. Participants reported renewed enthusiasm and clarity relative to Michigan EPI and PK-12 pressing needs and said they established new relationships across institutions and interests by revealing shared vision and possibilities for collaboration.

Additionally, strategic and sustained efforts by regional work groups over the course of the 2014-15 academic year developed stronger collaboration among PK-12 schools and school districts, EPIs, and the Michigan Department of Education. These groups addressed how to improve clinical partnerships across a teacher preparation program as well as assessment and evaluation of preservice and in-service teachers.

With the impressive support of AACTE, we as members of MACTE are excited to move into the next year with the momentum we’ve established. Pehrsson, who is MACTE president-elect and dean of the College of Education and Human Services at Central Michigan University, put it this way: “I am proud of us all for our efforts and preparation and having voice. We are moving forward in our state and communicating better and better all the time. For me, 2014 was a year of great concern, of solid communication, and focused strategic effort.”

Kyle Shanton is president of the Michigan Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

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Kyle Shanton

Associate Professor and Education Department Chair, Albion College