intro - National Indian Education Association

Cultivated Ground: Effective Teaching Practices for
Native Students in a Public High School
An Introductory Presentation for Educators
Brittany Dorer
Ed. M, Harvard Graduate School of Education
B.A., Psychology, Suffolk University
Anna Fetter
Ed.M, Harvard Graduate School of Education
B.A., Psychology & Native American Studies, Dartmouth College
In Conjunction With:
The National Indian Education Association
Dr. Dawn Mackety, Director of Policy, Data, & Research
The Harvard University Native American Program
Dr. Dennis Norman
Adrienne Keene, Course Assistant
The Study
Dr. Mackety at the NIEA requested this project from two graduate students
at the Harvard Graduate School of Education working under HUNAP
Research Question: What are the effective teaching practices being utilized in
public high schools that are successfully serving their Native students?
A case study of a public high school whose Native students are doing very
well academically
Positive research lens with an emphasis on classroom level studentteacher interaction
A phone interview with a public boarding high school in Alaska as part of
the literature review
A site visit to an Early College-structured public high school in North
Carolina with interviews with students, teachers, and administrators and
classroom observation
Structural School-Wide Themes
Despite significant structural, geographical, tribal, and political contexts, the school we spoke to
and the school we visited overlapped considerably in best practices
Effective teaching practices work in conjunction with structural and school-wide elements
These structural themes appeared to be a key support and facilitator of the pedagogical
practices used by educators
Family and community involvement, including the Indian Education Resource Center, in
students' education appeared to be essential in Native students' success
School cultures reflecting these structural themes and the following pedagogical practices
appeared to be purposefully created and cultivated by educators
Structural themes: small school size, small class sizes, high teacher retention rates, having
Native teachers and/or staff, students are able to take college classes while in high school
Findings Cont'd
Teaching Practices
The effective teaching practices we observed fit under the umbrellas of the
Culturally Responsive Schooling and Culturally Based Education models.
"This educational approach requires a shift in teaching methods, curricular
materials, teacher dispositions, and school–community relations"
(Castagno and Brayboy, 2008, p. 942)
Teaching Practices
Student-Teacher Relationships
Student trust in educators and staff, feeling of safety and
acceptance within those relationships
Mutual respect and positive regard for one another;
including culture and background
Student pride in themselves and their schools; teacher and
administrator pride in students
Teaching Practices Cont'd
High Expectations
High expectations for student attainment; conveyed belief
in student competency and ability to achieve academic
High Standards
High standards for student work and performance;
consistent high standards while accommodating for
student growth
Teaching Practices Cont'd
Culturally Responsive Pedagogy
Recognition of cultural impact; awareness and sensitivity
to needs of students; adjustment of teaching methods to
individuals or groups of students
Take Away
In our study, we found that the best teaching practices for
these Native students appeared to be consistent with the
culturally responsive schooling and culturally based
education models.
As over half of Native students currently attend a public
school, educators are tasked with the implementation of
best practices in order to create a positive educational
environment and foster positive academic outcomes.
This is an introductory presentation to best practices for
Native students in public schools.
Resources for Educators
Our Paper:
Culturally Based Education and Responsive Schooling Models:
Castagno, A. E., & Brayboy, B. M. J. (2008). Culturally responsive schooling for indigenous
youth: A review of the literature. Review of Educational Research, 78(4), 941-993.
Ewing, E. and Ferrick, M. (2012). For this place, for these people: An exploration of best practices
among charter schools serving native students. Report for National Indian Education Association.
Harvard University Native American Program.
Gay, G. (2013). Teaching to and through cultural diversity. The Ontario Institute for Studies in
Education of the University of Toronto: Curriculum Inquiry, 43(1), 48-70.
Klump, J., & McNeir, G. (2005). Culturally responsive practices for student success: A regional
sampler. Retrieved April 2013 from
Resources for Educators
Lipka, J. (2002). Schooling for self-determination: Research on the effects of including Native
language and culture in the schools. ERIC Digest. Charleston, WV: ERIC Clearinghouse
on Rural Education and Small Schools.
Sorkness, H. L., & Kelting-Gibson, L. (2006, February). Effective teaching strategies for engaging
Native American students. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association of
Native American Studies, Baton Rouge, LA.
The Regional Educational Laboratory for the Central Region. (2011). Effective teaching of
American Indian students: A preliminary response (abstract compilation).
Twenty (Self-)Critical Things I Will Do to Be a Better Multicultural Educator(Paul
Gorski/EdChange/MultiCultural Pavilion
Excerpt: “Culturally Responsive Teaching is Validating, Comprehensive, Multi-dimensional,
Empowering, Transformative and Emancipatory” (Geneva Gay)

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