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Native American Interviews

What background information would have been helpful prior to your student teaching experience?

    It would have been helpful to know more about the economic and family backgrounds of the students. (SA)

    I would have like to know more about the Puyallup tribe itself. (KY)

    I wish I had more information about the many tribes represented (especially the Puyallup tribe). (ME)

    Prior to my student teaching, I read as much literature on the Navajo culture as I could and everything that I learned was helpful. The students asked me about things such as "The Long Walk." They like to know how much I know about their history and culture; they like to know my feelings about their past treatment by our government. (KW)

Were there any behaviors, specific to the culture, that are different from your own (i.e. eye contact, gestures, etc.)?

    To me, the Seminole children had a great deal more responsibility for themselves (getting to school, eating, transportation, etc.). (BP)

    The attention span of many of the students were short. It seemed that their culture does not focus heavily on education. (SA)

    A Native American student is not being disrespectful when he/she doesn’t make eye contact. (KY)

    Boys wore their hair longer. (ME)

    There were a few students who came from very traditional families that had behaviors different from my own culture. Examples include: refraining from telling certain stories during certain seasons of the year, not making eye contact, and not discussing people who are deceased or death itself. (KW)

    Many of the students at my site avoided eye contact and answering questions. They used a lot of slang; they would say "A" after everything. They also pointed with their heads. (MG)

Did you find things that could be considered culturally inappropriate?

    It is a good idea to not ask a lot of prying questions at first. You will probably find that someone will "take you in as their friend" and you can ask questions - but carefully. (BP)

    No one is allowed to enter the Sacred Circle at the center of the school. (KY)

    Lumping all tribes into one culture was not "politically correct." (ME)

    A few things that I came across are avoiding certain stories and games during certain times of the year, not speaking about death or deceased people, and not staying out in the dark late at night. (KW)

    Don’t ask - they will tell you. And, the Native American people consider it an insult if you don’t try their food.(MG)

Do you think that student teaching at a Native American site helped prepare you for future teaching assignments? If so, how?

    I DEFINITELY think that student teaching on a reservation was beneficial to me and helped to prepare me for my current teaching job. The main skill I polished while I was on the reservation was my flexibility in activities and plans. A great deal of the students needed their basic needs met before they could learn anything each day. Time was spent tending to those needs before i could teach. Many of my students on the reservation were "hard luck" kids and when I was finished student teaching, I had gained the confidence that I could teach just about anybody. (BP)

    This experience exposed me to an option that I didn’t know about before. (SA)

    I think so. I feel more prepared to teach students that are different from me. (KY)

What is missing? Please include any other information that might assist a person preparing to teach at a Native American site.

    In my opinion, student teaching doesn’t get more challenging or rewarding than it does at a Native American site!(BP)

    Ask former student teachers from the site lots of questions. (KW)

    At Chief Leschi, many students are from Tacoma, and most do not know the Native language. This experience was very similar to teaching in a "big city." (ME)

    Student teachers need to know that they will essentially be on their own; there is little university contact. (SA)

    Be open, flexible, energetic, and willing to try new things. The average class size was 20-25 students. The special education programs were very different. I was responsible for introducing the idea of integration. The special education students were often left out of field trips and other special occasions. (MG)