The What We Owe Initiative reframes the so-called “achievement gap” in urban education as the educational debt owed by all of us. According to Gloria Ladson-Billings, the term “racial achievement gap” unfairly constructs students as “defective and lacking” and “admonishes them that they need to catch up.” (Listen to Ladson-Billings’ speech on educational debt here). For CAL students, the What We Owe Initiative will focus on recruitment and support, early intervention, and a socioemotional learning environment. For CAL faculty, the initiative will encourage faculty development and incentives for inclusive teaching, and will promote faculty dialogue around inclusive teaching practices.
As part of the College of Arts and Letters initiative to make classrooms more inclusive and to increase retention for historically under-represented students, CAITLAH has created the Inclusive Teaching Resource Network.
And at the university level, we've propopsed a university-wide faculty workshop for the next three years that offers year-round support of teacher inquiry projects.
Beginning in Fall 2012, PCW instructors, CoE teacher educators, and English education preservice teachers join forces to support our pipeline/pathways and international students. Together, CAL instructors and preservice teachers engage in inquiry and innovation in their teach of first generationl ELL students. Preservice teachers will dedicate a portion of their placement hours to PCW classrooms to learn early on how to build upon the knowledge of minority and ELL students through the English language arts. PCW/FYW/CAL instrustors will be further supported with CAITLAH workshop materials that present activities and lessons on cultural practices of reading, writing, and inquiry within community and disciplinary contexts. The research team is developing an educational model of teacher inquiry and innovation.
MSU boasts one of the most diverse student bodies of our peer institutions. First generation and international students bring to our classrooms a rich array of knowledge, a strong desire to achieve, and a host of strengths that can be tapped to enrich learning and research across the campus. These students’ abilities, skills, and unique perspectives can foster everyone’s learning together how to create meaningful connections to academic work. This workshop offers participants ways to understand learning to teach in their disciplines as interconnected to students’ communities, cultures, and developing identities.
During the first two days of the workshop, participants will engage in activities designed to begin to explore and develop their understandings of students’ perspectives as learners. These days will culminate in panels of master teachers and diverse students. On the third day, participants will create teaching philosophies using multiple media and will produce a set of questions and action steps we can take together to create ongoing, university-wide communities of inclusive teaching practice. Each day will include luncheon speakers who will describe state-of-the art research and compelling insights into inclusive teaching.
In addition to developing teaching philosophies tailored to inclusive teaching, we anticipate that this workshop will be a stepping-stone toward developing a sustained, vibrant, intellectual community for faculty, preparing us to meet the growing demands of a new century in education and the unique needs of MSU students.
A major goal of the What We Owe initiative is to develop critical, culturally sustaining, reflective practice among CAL teachers in order to help draw diverse learners into CAL majors. Our objectives are twofold: to make immediate pedagogical interventions by training CAL instructors directly; and to make inroads into departmental pedagogical practices by inviting these CAL instructors to train other teachers in their home departments. We especially seek teachers who teach Tier One, Tier Two, and IAH requirements as well as introductory level major courses.
The mentorship program is structured with a self-sustaining model. Master teachers, identified by their department chairs and colleagues, will be profiled on the CAITLAH Inclusive Teaching Resource Network (ITRN). They then enter a series of culturally sustaining pedagogy workshops in which they a) are introduced to concepts and methods, b) showcase and further develop workshop activities, lesson plans, assignments, and units, and c) create an implementation proposal and assessment plan for their colleague’s professional development in their home departments. In year two, these master teachers are supported to implement and assess their pedagogical innovations, and to identify new master teachers for year three.
Assessment of instructor effectiveness is a key component of this mentorship initiative. Together with master teachers, CAITLAH staff will help develop assessments designed to measure culturally sustaining pedagogical content knowledge, which can then be used at the implementation stage in year two. Instructors will also develop and/or supplement teaching portfolios with culturally sustaining materials and reflective commentary.
The Maya Angelou Program for Future Arts and Humanities Minority Scholars is a college to career pipelilne modeled after the COE's Broad Scholars program. Partnering with MSU's Upward Bound program, the Maya Angelou Program will provide outreach to high schools in Detroit, Flint, and Lansing.
Beginning in Fall 2012, the CAL Student Mentoring program will pair successful minority CAL students with first-year minority CAL students to provide academic and social support. This program is partnered with and modeled after MSU's African American Student Mentoring Program.
The upcoming Faculty Dialogue Circles initiative will create a safe space for dialogue around inclusive teaching, and provide faculty with opportunities to admit struggles and learn from other faculty. One of our goals is to open up dialogue about oppressive structures that prevent inclusive teaching.