Lived Experience: Teachers Serving First Nation School Communities


Indigenous communities, especially located in “remote” and “very remote” areas, have had many formidable challenges in engaging Indigenous students due to lack of resources and support. One of the major issues is the high turnover of teachers. A variety of complex factors have a critical impact on their decisions to stay or leave (Burleigh, 2016; Hall, 2013; Mueller et al., 2011).
Through storytelling, this study explored six teachers' perspectives on their inspirations and challenges teaching at First Nation schools. Thematic analysis was conducted for over 300 pages of interview transcripts. The findings revealed their overall positive experiences, along with a myriad of ongoing challenges and complex emotions. These included the lack of supporting infrastructure and limited technological access and training, e.g., limited access to high-speed Internet leading to compromised instruction delivery during the Covid-19 pandemic. The lack of resources to develop culturally responsive curriculum was also reported by the teachers.
Our findings highlighted the need for Indigenous teachers and students to gain access to technology to close the digital divide for Indigenous communities (Government of Canada, 2017; Office of the Auditor General of Canada, 2023). Teachers made recommendations, integrating Indigenous knowledge as a significant component for the curriculum development. Suggestions are made to support teachers’ instruction, retainment, and enhance students’ engagement through involving the local community. Given the historical legacy of residential schools, socio-economic inequities, systemic oppression, and the pandemic experienced by remote Indigenous communities, this study contributes to our in-depth understanding of teachers’ needs in the Indigenous schools.

Author Information
Jia Li, Ontario Technology University, Canada
Novera Roihan, Ontario Technology University, Canada

Paper Information
Conference: IICE2024
Stream: Teaching Experiences

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon