Integrating Indigenous Teachings in the Classroom

Integrating Indigenous
Teaching into the
An Ojiibwe legend identifies the giant as
Nanabijou, who was turned to stone when
the secret location of a rich silver mine now
known as Silver Islet was disclosed to
white Men, Late 19th century.
The Sleep Giant at Isle of Royale in Lake Superior, just outside Thunder Bay
Integrating Indigenous Teaching into
the Classroom
These Four interconnected aspects represent self-esteem
Ojibway Good Life Teachings
Attention to Aboriginal self-esteem
 the connection between the physical, emotional-mental,
intellectual and spiritual realms – is paramount.
Aboriginal learners and their success are dependent
upon educators and schools respecting this view.
It requires changes in how we teach our Aboriginal
It means that the pedagogy in classrooms must be
inclusive of Aboriginal culture, language and world- view.
Our Aboriginal students are counting on us today!
Creating Learning Environments that
Honour/Respect Indigenous Culture,
Language, Traditions, Contributions and
As educators we can build upon Indigenous students self identity and community
well being through inclusive teaching strategies and cultural content using the
Seven Sacred Teachings
Sun Dance, Sacred and Traditional Ceremonies
Sweat Lodge, Fasting and Vision Quest
Seven Grandfather Teachings
Medicine Wheel
Honour Indigenous Learning Styles
Understanding who and what Indigenous students
come from, creating a learning environment that is
inclusive of the Seven Grandfather Teachings
supporting Self Esteem.
 Self Educate, read books written by Indigenous and Western writers
 Contact Board Facilitator to come and do an Introduction workshop on
Learning Indigenous culture, ask for lessons, resources
 Talk to your Indigenous students so they see you as a life long learner
 Talk to their parents, invite them into the classroom
 Connect with parents to have an elder or other member of the clan to
come in and talk about their spiritual journey
 Search on line for ideas, resources, lessons to support the building
blocks of your learning
 Connect with teacher, Indigenous staff representative for resources,
lessons or speakers
 Take an AQ course, Teaching First Nations, Metis and Inuit Children
Story Telling : Read Aloud
Book by David Bouchard
Seven Sacred Teachings
Long ago, I heard my children cry.
Four days later, I took on the shape of
a white Buffalo calf.
four days after that, I went to them.
And over the next four days, I taught them sacred
songs and Dances
And I taught them the seven sacred ceremonies.
I taught them the sun Dance.
I taught them to fast.
I taught them the sacred and traditional
ceremonies necessary for youth coming of age.
I gifted them with the peace pipe and taught them
how to use it.
I taught them the ways of the medicine wheel.
I taught them to seek their paths to the good red
road by reaching out to me through the vision
And I taught them how to build and use the sweat
Long ago, i heard my children cry. four
days later, i took on the shape of a
white Buffalo calf. four days after
that, i went to them. and over the next
four days, i taught them sacred songs
and Dances and i taught them the
seven sacred ceremonies.
i taught them the sun Dance. i taught
them to fast. i taught them the sacred
and traditional ceremonies necessary
for youth coming of age.
i gifted them with the peace pipe and
taught them how to use it.
i taught them the ways of the
medicine wheel.
i taught them to seek their paths to
the good red road by reaching out to
me through the vision Quest.
and i taught them how to build and
use the sweat lodge.
Look to the Seven directions and seek out
I told them that they were responsible for watching
over the land, their four- legged brothers and all which of your wild cousins best represents
each Teaching.
their relations
By studying nature, you can best understand
Today, I return as White Buffalo Calf Woman.
yourself and these Teachings. and study
shapes, colours and songs too.
Open your minds and your hearts to grandfather open your heart as well as your eyes.
universe, father Sun, grandmother moon, mother My Teachings are waiting to be discovered.
earth and to all of the flyers, swimmers, walkers,
discover them, then teach them to your
crawlers, burrowers and standing ones.
children. Share them with all those you love,
Accept the Teachings of grandfather rock, the
and share them with your enemies too.
elements, the colours and my Seven Sacred
you are all my children.
Today, I return with Seven Sacred Teachings.
Be open to all your relations, so that through them
you can walk your journey through life along The It was told that next time there is chaos and
good red road.
disparity, She would return again. She said
When you follow these Seven Sacred Teachings,
She would return as a White Buffalo Calf.
you might then live in peace and harmony with all
Some believe She already has.
your relations.
The four directions of the medicine Wheel
represent the four colours of two-leggeds: yellow Words of Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19Th
(east), red (South), Black (West) and White (north). generation keeper of The Sacred White
There are three other directions; up, down and
Buffalo Calf pipe of The Lakota Nation
Sweat Lodge and Fasting
Edward Curtis Sun Dance Opening
Seven Grandfather Teachings
of the Medicine Wheel
Having high expectations for the Aboriginal student and honouring their
culture, language and world view in our schools
What does this mean in the classroom?
Aboriginal cultures are celebrated throughout the school program.
library has a broad range of Aboriginal books and resources.
Teachers are encouraged to incorporate the diversity of Aboriginal
throughout the curriculum and acknowledge the uniqueness
of Aboriginal cultures.
The Aboriginal territory, on which the school is located, is
at the door (a welcoming in an Aboriginal language).
This how Indigenous students feel a part of their school and
Demonstrating our belief (as educators) that all Aboriginal students can and will succeed
through our own commitment to their learning- teaching styles
 This principle requires a commitment to supporting Aboriginal students’
learning styles.
 Hilberg and Tharp6 have identified that Aboriginal students lean towards:
holistic education (learning from whole to part) use of a variety of visual
organizers and hands-on manipulatives
 reflective mode of learning (time to complete tasks and answer questions)
 preference for collaborative tasks (group and pair work)
For Aboriginal students, these preferences for learning need to be
incorporated in their day-to-day activities.6 This is how Aboriginal student
success can be achieved.
Providing opportunities to high- light and celebrate their Nations. The
Shki-Mawtch-Taw-Win-En-Mook (Path to New Beginnings) Curriculum
Project in northern Ontario is an example of this value in action. This
curriculum consists of a series of First Nation units (with resources) that
meet the Ministry of Education expectations – a beautiful collection of
lessons and activities (Kindergarten to Grade 12) that honours the
contributions of Indigenous students. or
The units all begin with Aboriginal expectations and are guided by
local Elders.
The implications for classroom practice include the following:
on key Aboriginal curriculum resources and utilize them in the school
 draw
partnerships and establish relationships with Aboriginal communities
 create
Aboriginal peoples by ensuring that their innovations are included
 highlight
 bring in various Aboriginal resource people to share their knowledge
These approaches are bravery (in Ojibwe terms) in action.
The teaching of wisdom reminds us that we are lifelong learners. It also
reminds us of the value of sharing and engaging in dialogue with “what
we know.” This principle reflects that spirit of wisdom and the need for
disseminating “what works” for Aboriginal students. This can be achieved
through ongoing research and various professional development
opportunities. For example, Swanson4 provides many key strategies that
support Aboriginal student success. In particular, her research in a
Aboriginal community suggests the following four applications for the
 celebrate individual achievements and cultural backgrounds
 engage the student at a physical, emotional-mental, intellectual and spiritual level
a variety of teaching methods with a particular emphasis on holism,visual organizers,
 use
kinesthetic opportunities and reflection
 create an environment where humour and “group talk” are accepted
The Ojibwe teaching of humility reminds us to reach out to others for
assistance. This is a key tenet in our goal of ensuring that the Aboriginal
learner has success.
As educators, we need to go beyond ourselves and ask the “Aboriginal
experts” key questions. It is crucial that we also go to Aboriginal
organizations and communities for direction.
with Aboriginal organizations to collect or purchase curriculum resources
 work
an inventory of Aboriginal curriculum resources
 conduct
these curriculum resources into grade-specific categories
 organize
 disseminate this information to all school boards in various formats
The key is always to include Aboriginal peoples in any processes
regarding Aboriginal children so that their education supports and builds
capacity for their Nations.8
Honesty (in Ojibwe terms) means to
“be and get real.”
to proceed in a manner where responsibility
 Itandmeans
accountability go hand in hand.
 Appreciating the Learning Styles of Aboriginal Students
Truth (in Ojibwe terms) means examining the reality and
lived experiences of a situation. It is the process of coming
to terms with “how things really are” and developing a
plan for change.
The success of the Aboriginal learner needs to be measured, and this
requires clear outcomes.
The success of the Aboriginal learner is clearly an indicator of how
committed educators and their respective systems are to equity.
We need to ask Aboriginal students and their communities, "How are
we performing?”
We need to keep a close eye on the educational directions
(graduation, retention, career paths) of Aboriginal students to
measure school success.
Understanding the interconnectedness of Indigenous culture
through the Medicine Wheel
The wheel/centre represents honouring Indigenous Learni
Holistic, whole picture
to parts
Visual hands on and
organizers activities
Collaborative and
small group learning,
paired activities
Reflective time for task
and asking questions
Strategies for Indigenous
students Success
Wisdom Is Sharing
Celebrate Students: achievements, culture, learning styles
Class Environment: holistic, group talk, humour
Teacher Research: critical ethnography, publish, professional
The success of these strategies
depends upon an inclusive classroom