Yesterday I posted about how things have been progressing in my World Issues class (I will be posting about my Canadian History class on Monday). One thing I did not mention, however, is one of the difficulties I experienced.
As you know, we have been learning about "Indigenous Peoples of The World" and have been comparing and contrasting the First Nations groups of Canada with Indigenous groups in Ethiopia, Kenya and New Zealand. On Friday I presented some information on First Nations people in regards to clothing, food, employment, and homes. I will note that most of this information was a repeat of information they had learned in the various Social Studies classes they have taken throughout school.
I immediately noticed that two of my nine students became completely disengaged. They did not participate in our group discussions, write down important notes or attempt the assignment that we were working on. An important thing to know about these students is that they are the only two students in my class who have a First Nations background.
As class was finishing up and I, admittedly, was feeling pretty confused, one of my disengaged students approached me and stated, "White girls have no right teaching about First Nations people" before walking out the door to her next class. It was an immediate blow to the heart and it hurt me to know that she was so upset by having me teach her this unit. On one hand, I am happy she walked away immediately because I honestly had no idea how to respond.
Thankfully, I have a pretty good support team around me and have been able to talk this over with my cooperating teacher, fiance and my Aboriginal Studies professor at university. While I am still feeling pretty bad about the situation I am already thinking of ways to fix it:
- Reference the Integrating Aboriginal Perspectives into Curricula document to learn
more about providing inclusive learning opportunities for Aboriginal students
- Try to build a relationship with my students outside of the classroom (visit
their sports games, be present at student spirit events, etc)
- Focus on the inquiry-based learning opportunities in the classroom (move
the teaching away from me and focus on the students interests)
- Plus, on Tuesday, I am having a member of the Speaker's Bureau from the
Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba come speak to our class
Hopefully this can help provide learning opportunities that are more comfortable for all of my students. What are your thoughts? I would really like your opinions!