At the “Learning Together, Leading for Equity conference hosted by the current 2023-24 MTLC cohort, educators joined from across the state to learn about advancing equity at the classroom and systems level.

Two members of the MTLC, Natia McLendon and Shannon Theis, led breakout sessions where they shared examples of research-based, equity-minded practices they use in their classrooms to help shape impact and inspire educators to utilize these tools in classrooms across the state. McClendon, director of academics at Detroit Leadership Academy, invited the audience to find ways to use pop culture in the classroom. She shared how pop culture can be used to engage students and to scaffold their learning by supporting them to connect their cultural knowledge to new academic concepts, a research-based strategy outlined by Zarreta Hammond in Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain.

Theis conducted the beginning of her breakout session in Spanish, just as she would in her 3rd grade Spanish immersion classroom at Ada Vista Elementary in Ada, MI, to support the audience in building empathy for the experiences of students who are learning English or who are a second-language learner. Theis shared four language development strategies she uses in her classroom and included research demonstrating explicit vocabulary instruction is shown to not only support language development for English language learners and second language learners but can also improve outcomes for struggling readers and all students.

MTLC presenters shared the stage with guest speakers who reflected on their experience of lifting up their voices beyond their classrooms, including Brandon Lane and Walter Reese of Black Male Educators Alliance, and two keynote speakers, Jessica Lander and Dr. Rick Joseph, both current educators.  

Additionally, Isabel Lohman from Bridge Michigan and three MTLC members interviewed Senator Stephanie Chang, a member of the Senate Education Committee, and Representative Nancy DeBoer, a former educator now serving as Republican vice chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee focused on education. Both legislators encouraged educators in the audience to engage more with policymakers about their ideas and perspectives from the classroom.  

Members of the 2022-23 cohort of the MTLC have been doing exactly that.  

Kristin Rathje and Amanda Paulus, both members of the 2022-23 MTLC Transition to Post-Secondary Work Group, provided public testimony to the Senate Education Committee on October 17, 2023 in support of Senate Bill 463 which would require students to submit a FAFSA application, the form used to access public financial aid for postsecondary programs, as a graduation requirement or to complete a waiver opting out of this step. Both Rathje and Paulus have been meeting with legislators since early 2023 to provide feedback on the policy from their perspective as current high school educators. Read testimony from Rathje and Paulus, and check out the work group’s submitted recommendations, to learn more.  

A new policy brief, Building Effective Social and Emotional Instruction in Michigan’s Classrooms, was published this week by members of the 2022-23 MTLC Socio-emotional Learning Work Group. This teacher-led and teacher-written report shares findings from focus groups conducted in April 2023 with Michigan secondary teachers to learn more about how they are addressing the socio-emotional learning needs in their classrooms. The brief provides recommendations to district- and state-level education leaders to better support educators to prioritize socio-emotional learning using the guidance released by the Michigan Department of Education in 2017. 

The Michigan Teacher Leadership Collaborative, co-convened by The Education Trust-Midwest and Teach Plus-Michigan, is a highly selective leadership opportunity for outstanding Michigan teachers looking to share their expertise around equity-focused instructional practices, deepen their knowledge of education policy, and gain a voice in decisions that affect historically underserved students and the teaching profession.