ITEP Philosophy

The Indigenous Teacher Education Project (ITEP) was founded in 2016, through a grant from the US Department of Education. Our mission is to increase the number of Indigenous teachers serving Indigenous students, schools, and communities. Through the two-year program, cohorts of Indigenous pre-service teachers complete an Elementary Education degree, with a focus on Indigenous Education, and graduate with a teaching certificate. Below you will find FAQs and if you are interested in the ITEP program, you can view the application process, if you have any questions please do let us know!

ITEP Philosophy

ITEP aims to address the Indigenous teacher shortage in Arizona by providing support to future Indigenous educators in their final two years of the University of Arizona’s Elementary Education program. ITEP supports students' development of values and philosophy as related to the values of their respective Indigenous communities.

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ITEP Framework

Teachers as Native Nation Builders:

Teachers as Native Nation-builders: Indigenous teachers who enact autonomy and self-determination in the classroom are teachers who also embrace and embody a responsibility to Indigenous sovereignty and nation- building. ITEP fosters agency within the teacher candidates toward (re)building their communities and promoting sovereignty and self-determination within their Indigenous nations.


Indigenous Knowledge, Values, and Languages: 

Language matters because it holds within it a people’s worldview. (Kovach, 2009, p. 59) At the heart of Indigenous education is the deep relationship Indigenous peoples have to their traditional ways of knowing and being, which then become the basis for curricular and pedagogical interventions that are rooted in Indigenous culture and language. Within ITEP, we find that this process requires a self-reflexive and dialogic experience which then activates and “awakens” a critical Indigenous consciousness (Lee, 2006; Meyer, 2008) and renews relationships with Indigenous knowledge, values, and language. Manulani Aluli Meyer (2008) refers to an awakened consciousness as the process of becoming aware of one’s epistemology in relation to place and people.


Justice-Centered Education:

As such, in ITEP, we work with teacher candidates on developing their content knowledge and their understanding of the role teachers have in envisioning, empowering, and building transformational change in their communities. This stance by teachers’ active involvement to promote justice and healing within Indigenous communities is an intentional (political and moral) act in developing curriculum around various social and environmental issues to disrupt hegemonic understandings of oppressive structures and systems (i.e., examining social hierarchies manifested through racism, sexism, classism) within Indigenous communities.


Critical Indigenous Theories and Pedagogies:

Since the beginning of the 21st century, critical Indigenous theories have increasingly informed the field of Indigenous Education: Red pedagogy (Grande, 2004, 2015), decolonization (Battiste, 2000, 2013; Dei, 2002; Little Bear, 2000; Shahjahan, 2005; Smith, 2012; Wane, 2009), safety zone theory (Lomawiama & McCarty, 2006), tribal critical race theory (Brayboy, 2005), critical and culturally sustaining/revitalizing pedagogy (Lee & McCarty, 2017; McCarty & Lee, 2014), schools as sacred landscapes (Garcia & Shirley, 2012), land as pedagogy (Simpson, 2014), and Indigenous social justice pedagogy (Brayboy & McCarty, 2010; Shirley, 2017) to name a few. Various scholars have taken up such theories to guide the transformative potential of teaching and learning that is needed to critically examine the hegemonic structure of schooling and to (re)conceptualize the integration of Indigenous knowledge into the education of Indigenous students. Within ITEP, we make use of multiple theories to inform a decolonial praxis and to re-imagine curriculum and pedagogy for Indigenous students.

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Join the Movement

ITEP is looking for applicants for our Fall 2022 and Fall 2023 Cohort! Are you ready to begin your career as an Indigenous educator? Submit unofficial transcripts to academic advisor, Sara Knepper,

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