Exploring the educational histories, perceptions, and experiences of successful educators of Native American students : a multiple case study
Silva, Dawn Elizabeth
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Native American education has gone through many phases from the assimilation practices of removing Native children from their homes, family, and culture all the way up to Native Language Immersion schools where the curriculum is taught in both English and the Native tongue. Throughout all the educational changes one thing remains; Native American students are dropping out of school at an alarming rate. In order to improve education for Native students there must be a change in pre-service teacher preparation. The problem addressed in this study is that instructors of pre-service teachers need to understand the educational histories and experiences of successful educators of Native American students in the K-8 environment in order to learn how to better prepare undergraduate education majors. This qualitative multiple case study focused upon effective educators of Native American students. The following questions guided the inquiry: What is the formal educational (academic) history of successful educators of Native American students? What is the informal educational (non-academic) history of successful educators of Native American students? What experiences in their own classrooms have teachers identified as contributing to their success with educating Native American students? This research included a questionnaire and interviews with 32 teachers working in elementary schools located on reservations in Montana. A combination of whole staff focus group and individual in-depth interviews took place. The results of the transcribed and coded interviews were grouped under the main themes which emerged out of the three research questions and a few unique questions asked of the individual interviewees. Out of the four main themes; Effective and Successful Educators of Native American Students, Formal Education, Informal Education, and Classroom experiences, 17 subthemes emerged. The findings resulted in the following recommendations for new teachers of Native Americans: mentors; real life applications and cultural integration; community involvement; relationships; high expectations; self reflection. Also recommendations for Higher Education were presented: new class creation/offering; tribal college collaboration; utilize Native Americans as a resource; include information on teaching in low socioeconomic areas; student teaching/internships on a reservation. My hope is that these recommendations will improve education for Native American students.