Professional Development for Teacher Educators to Help them Prepare their Teacher Candidates to Integrate Montana’s Indian Education for All Act across the K-12 Curriculum

Abstract: The Indian Education for All (IEFA) initiative is an unprecedented reform effort thirty- seven years in the making. IEFA is now a funded reality. This audacious legislation has acknowledged the inadequacy of curriculum which excludes American Indians. By including the teaching of American Indian cultures and histories in the statutory definition of a quality education, Montanans are narrowing the achievement gap. Providing professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers and faculty in higher education across the state was key to integrating culturally relevant curriculum in all disciplines at all grade levels. In this paper I describe the initial survey administered to teacher educators in a department of education at a land grant university and the subsequent professional development initiatives I provided in response to the participants’ feedback. I also describe the educational context in Montana, review the evolution of the IEFA legislative mandate, characterize a typical educational journey teacher candidates take, highlight the role teacher educators are expected to play in preparing teacher candidates to integrate IEFA, in addition to reviewing the professional development opportunities provided. I am proposing that these IEFA initiatives can serve as a model for a variety of international contexts where educators are concerned with best practices to “level the playing field” and provide educational opportunities to All students while promoting social justice.