Professional development programs overview
A group of Navajo K12 teachers approached ONAI in 2016 to invite NAU to partner with them in building a professional development program modeled after the Yale National Initiative. This led to the development of a partnership between NAU and Navajo-serving schools, called the Diné Institute for Navajo Nation Educators (DINÉ). The first DINÉ cohort launched in 2018. From these first planning conversations, we envisioned one day expanding out to additional Native Nations. After securing an NSF grant that proposed this expansion, we launched the Institute for Native-serving Educators (INE) in 2021. The DINÉ is now one of many programs that fall under the INE. Here is a brief description of all the programs within the INE:
1. Diné Institute for Navajo Nation Educators (DINÉ)
The Diné Institute for Navajo Nation Educators (DINÉ) is a partnership between Northern Arizona University and Navajo schools aimed at strengthening teaching in K-12 schools serving Diné and other Indigenous students. The DINÉ began with 9 teachers in 2018, and we have had approximately 85 teachers complete the program since then. In 2022, we have about 45 teachers participating in the DINÉ. Each teacher in the DINÉ writes a robust curriculum unit that we publish online so that other educators can access, adapt, and use them in their own classrooms. There is a clear need and interest in sustaining and growing this program in the coming years.
2. Indigenous Early Childhood Educators Professional Development Fellowship (IECE)
Building on the DINÉ model, and leveraging financial support from a Kellogg Foundation grant, INE partnered with the College of Education to launch a new professional development institute in 2021 specifically targeted to preschool teachers. The inaugural 2021 cohort included 8 preschool teachers from Hopi, Navajo, Salt River, and Gila River. The goal is to support these teachers in learning culturally responsive approaches to early childhood teaching and learning. Similar to the DINÉ, each teacher writes a curriculum unit that is published online for broad accessibility. In 2022, we have about 15 teachers participating in the IECE.
3. Culturally Responsive Schooling with/in Indigenous Communities professional development (CRS)
This is a 6-month professional development institute for preK-12 educators that will grow their capacity and effectiveness in working with Indigenous students. Open to educators in a variety of roles (i.e., teachers, paraprofessionals, principals, residential coordinators, etc.), the program focuses on increasing educators’ knowledge of key ideas/issues, and also educators’ ability to use and apply that knowledge to their everyday work with students. We launched this program in 2022, with enough interested applicants to offer two cohorts in our first year!
4. Indian Country School Counselors Institute (ICSCI)
This is an 8-month professional development institute for School Counselors to grow their capacity and effectiveness in working with Indigenous students. Members of the ICSCI cohort will build their capacity to support student wellbeing and success in culturally responsive ways. The program culminates with each cohort member writing a guidance curriculum unit on a topic of their choosing, which they can use in their schools and which is published online as a resource for others. This program began in 2022 with about 18 participating School Counselors.
5. San Carlos Apache Unified School District – Teacher Leadership Shiłgozhóó Institute (TLSI)
Modeled after the DINÉ, this partnership began with the San Carlos Unified School District and later opened up to include teachers in any Apache-serving school. This professional development program is focused on growing teachers’ content knowledge, ability to write culturally responsive curriculum, and leadership skills. This program began in 2022 with support from both the San Carlos Apache Nation and the San Carlos Unified School District.