Seeing that one of the driving forces behind my creating this resource was my own fear as a Non-Aboriginal educator teaching the knowledge and stories of the FNMI people I thought it was appropriate to provide those of you with the same fear or apprehensions a list of suggestions which has been adapted from: Best Practices in Teaching Aboriginal Children form an Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Perspective. By Theresa Wilson, (Master’s Thesis:Conversations with First Nations Educators) 2001 UVic
- Develop relationships with students but do not try to co-opt or represent their perspectives.
- Challenge students to think critically, model this kind of thinking in lectures and class discussions.
Attributes of Successful Instruction:
- Setting high expectations means a teachershowing thier students that they are fully capable of being autonomous learners.
- Show students how to learn.
- Maintaing self awareness: do not represent yoursef as seeing through Aboriginal eyes. Instead, idetify and critique your position within the dominant culture. Make a distinction between the critical tools to be acquired and the perspective or purpose through which these tools can be filtered.
- Encourage students: when evaluating assignments, provide concrete, positive and immediate feedback.
- Support autonomy: the focus on the independence of the learners, develops pride and confidence in themselves.
- Develop a warm supportive environment where learning can take place.
- Be willing to negotiate.
- Cultivate supportive relationships with students by attempting to see reality from their perspective.
Personal Characteristics of a good teacher
- Be aware that there is no recipe for success in teaching. Different things work for different learners.
- Take the time to get to know the community
- Recognize students for who they are and where they come form.
- Acknowledge all students as individuals.
- Know when and how to let go.
- Communicate confidence in a student’s ability to learn. Show them you have faith in their inherent worth as an individual and as a learner
- Demonstrate an attitude of respect.
- Enjoy being in your class.
- Personal attributes: kindness, honest, flexibility and persistence.
Understanding Teaching as Living:
- Teaching models a consciousness and awareness of educators as Aboriginal persons.
- Living the values, belief in forming relationships and modeling the belief in the classroom.
- Speak about being genuine.
- How we teach will communicate how we choose to live and reflect on our lives.
- Abandon the assumption that living and teaching, private and public are separate.
- value respect in relationships.
- Establish a classroom of respect, instances of disrespect are directly addressed.
- Model respectful behavior and interaction.
- Be sensitive to who your students are and where they are coming from.
- Respecting the complexities of Aboriginal identity.
- Accepting where the students are at in relationship to their identity.
- Respect extends to daily interactions, knowing when to let go and when to show concern.
- Educators accept as a given that teachers should try to connect curriculum to Aboriginal learners.
- Teaching critical thinking to students is essential.
- Teachers need to model a questioning stance toward the subject matter by demonstrating their own self knowledge (cultural identity) and an open spirit of inquiry.
- Understand the political nature of knowledge and the political nature of curriculum.
- General or tribal knowledge comes from a particular perspective.
- Knowledge comes form many sources, which includes emotional and spiritual ones.
Evaluating as Part of Instruction:
- Use evaluation as an extension of classroom practices.
- Collaboration and student involvement should be guiding principles for most classroom activities.
- Students should devise their own projects when possible which encourages active engagement and provides evidence or their own learning.
- Evaluation should be an ongoing feature of classroom life.
- Feedback needs to be positive and consistent rather than negative and intermittent.
- Provide students with meaningful choices.