Baleiichiwee (the story of understanding) : the conscientization processes of effective teachers of American Indian students

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Education, Health & Human Development


The success of all students is an intimate concern for all good teachers and those who engage daily with America Indian students have a vested interest in identifying what works in their unique contexts, in spite of the difficult circumstances presented on American Indian reservations in Montana. Engaging in education that is effective is a concern that has many levels of complexity, but this study focuses on community perspectives on effective teaching and on the teacher and his/her conscientization process as two of the essential pieces to this puzzle. Qualitative focus group data was used to construct a list of characteristics/qualities grounded in community values and a list of effective teachers was compiled through "community nomination". A collective case study gathered the living educational theories and teaching philosophies of six nominated teachers, compared these to the community-determined characteristics/qualities, and examined elements of each teacher's life history that played a role in developing and informing each effective teacher's pedagogy. It was determined that conscientization played a significant role in molding effective pedagogy, and social intelligence provided the precursory relationships that allowed teachers to effectively teach students according to a responsive pedagogy in the optimal zone of cognitive efficiency. A new model for adaptive teaching in cross-cultural contexts was proposed as were suggestions for further study.




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