Ways to bring Aboriginal Perspectives into the Classroom

#CdnELTchat Summary for February 11, 2020

by Bonnie Nicholas

aboriginal symbol with forest in background
Image source: teslontario

If you’re on Twitter, join the next #CdnELTchat on Tuesday, February 25 – on the topic of Practical Gamification in the Classroom with Cindy Liebel. You can access the #CdnELTChat Padlet at this link: Questions and Topics for #CdnELTchat. Below is a recap of the February 11 chat.

On February 11, #CdnELTchat community gathered on Twitter to talk about Ways to bring Aboriginal Perspectives into the Classroom. Sharon Jarvis (@romans1v17) was the guest moderator and shared her perspective as a Metis educator. In her words: “Sharon is a Métis from Mânatow Sakahikanihk (Spirit Lake in Nehiyaw- Lac St. Anne) who has been an educator for over 15 years. She has a MEd from UBC with three concentrations. Her work mainly focuses on an Indigenous framework that emerged while completing her graduating paper: wâhkôhtowin (all my relations), otipemisiwak (selves governing) and ekichinantak (respectfulness) (2017; 2018; 2019).”

These are the questions we discussed:

Q1: As non-indigenous people working in #ELT, how can we bring an authentic Indigenous perspective into our classes, without appropriation or presuming to speak for Indigenous people? 

Q2: Are there specific themes or topics that could be introduced at each level in settlement language classes? 

Q3: What resources are available for instructors in ELT? 

Q4: What are the First People’s Principles of Learning, and how can we use these in our teaching?

Q5: How important is it that international students and those studying in #EAP programs learn about Indigenous history in Canada?

The tweets from this conversation are collected here using Wakelet, Ways to bring Aboriginal Perspectives into the Classroom. Here are some key takeaways from the chat:

  • Know on whose land we reside: nativeland.ca
  • Consider incorporating First Peoples Principles of Learning in our teaching.
  • Choose reputable resources; be aware of representation and misrepresentation. 
  • Remember that bringing Aboriginal perspectives into our classrooms is about social justice and reconciliation.
  • Some specific topics recommended by Sharon include “loss of identity and affirmation of identity, tradition, healing, role of family, importance of Elders, connection to the land, the nature and place of spirituality as an aspect of wisdom, the relationships between individual and community, the importance of oral tradition, the experience of colonization and decolonization.”

Thanks to Sharon and our participants for sharing so many useful resources. These have been collected these in a Google Doc, Resources for Indigenous Education in ELT; there are resources for exploring many of the specific topics listed above. 

#CdnELTchat is a collaborative effort that we hope will lead to more reflective practice for all of us involved in ELT. If you have any ideas for topics or have comments about #CdnELTchat, please send @StanzaSL, @BonnieJNicholas, @Jennifermchow, or @ELTAugusta a tweet. We are also looking for guest moderators who are interested in leading a future #CdnELTchat. Send us a message with a topic of interest. 
Our Padlet, Questions and Topics for #CdnELTchat, is always open for sharing questions, ideas, and resources. We create our promo images using Canva and collect the tweets using Wakelet.


One thought on “Ways to bring Aboriginal Perspectives into the Classroom”

  1. Hi Bonnie,

    I enjoyed reading your Blog! I am a public school teacher working for a large school Board in the Greater Toronto Area. I am planning on preparing a professional development workshop for teachers that focuses on the Empowering Modern Learners framework that incorporates inquiry based learning and technology to support students. Rather than only focusing on how to implement inquiry based learning, I decided to include a few slides that pertain to Indigenous content. After reading some of the Blog postings on the TESL Ontario PLC, I believe that it is essential that we introduce our students to research Indigenous issues. As a Canadian educator, I believe that it is critical that we provide our students with opportunities to delve deeper into Indigenous issues. However, I believe that teachers need some professional development when implementing Indigenous content in their classroom. Thank you for sharing the Background of the First People’s Principles of Learning and Current Contexts. This is a fantastic resource. There is a lot of information that I would be able to extrapolate and include in my PD workshop. It is important for teachers to be familiar with the First Nations Principles before they introduce Indigenous social justice issues in the classroom. Thank you for also providing the extensive resource list, this is great. This document will be very helpful. I am going to review the Padlet as well and see what information would be useful for my PD workshop.

    I would like to prepare a comprehensive workshop for teachers, thus, I am prepared to have a series of workshops that focus on inquiry based learning through an Indigenous perspective. It would be beneficial to also bring in Elders from our community to also share their perspectives. Would you be able to guide me in the right direction as to how I would be able to make contact with Indigenous Elders? I live and work in Mississauga, Ontario.

    Also, do you have any examples of student inquiry projects that have focused on Indigenous social justice issues? Any video interviews from classroom teachers?

    Thank you very much Bonnie for the resources, I am looking forward to hearing from you.

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