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Recruiting and Retaining Highly-Qualified Native American Teachers in New Mexico Reservation Schools

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Title: Recruiting and Retaining Highly-Qualified Native American Teachers in New Mexico Reservation Schools


1
Recruiting and Retaining Highly-Qualified Native
American Teachers in New Mexico Reservation
Schools
  • Margaret (Peggy) Hotchkiss
  • Summary of dissertation presented in partial
    fulfillment of the requirements for the degree
    Doctor of Education at ASU

2
What prompted this study?
  • As an Instructional Support Teacher, I was very
    impressed with the talents and skills of new
    teachers, especially those on alternative
    licensure.
  • I also saw how teacher turnover on the
    reservation caused problems in schools.
  • I observed that Navajo students responded more
    positively to Native teachers than to
    non-Natives.

3
What prompted this study?
  • As a mentor of new teachers, I was impressed by
    the diversity of backgrounds and motives for
    entering the teaching profession. I wanted to
  • Find ways to recruit more Native teachers to
    reservation schools
  • Learn why retaining teachers on the reservation
    is such a challenge
  • Learn the attributes successful teachers possess
    that have helped them become remainteachers.

4
The Problem
  • Recruiting and retaining good teachers for
    high-needs schools is a challenge.
  • High-needs schools have high rates of teacher
    turnover, high percentages of students living in
    poverty, and (often) low student achievement.
  • Fulfilling the highly qualified teacher mandates
    of NCLB is especially difficult for these
    schools.

5
The Problem
  • Rural schools Many teachers do not want to live
    and work in remote, isolated areas, far from
    shopping, entertainment, and opportunities for
    professional growth.
  • Minority Schools Recruiting and retaining
    teachers for minority schools is a challenge.
  • Poverty Schools Poverty schools have higher
    rates of teacher turnover than non-poverty
    schools.

6
The ProblemReservation Schools
  • Ten of the poorest 20 counties in the United
    States are inhabited primarily by Native
    Americans (U.S. Census, 2000).
  • McKinley County, NM, is the 20th poorest county
    neighboring Apache County, AZ, is the 10th
    poorest county (U.S. Census, 2000).

7
The ProblemReservation Schools
  • Teachers are reluctant to teach or to remain in a
    teaching position on reservations due to
  • Poverty
  • Isolation
  • Remote locations
  • Lack of amenities and infrastructure (roads,
    health care, shopping, entertainment, etc.)
  • Inability to purchase a home
  • The insecurity of being a racial minority
  • Low student achievement and student problems
    resulting from poverty.

8
Possible SolutionsIncrease the Number of Native
Teachers
  • Native teachers (especially those reared on
    reservations) are more likely to remain in
    teaching positions on reservations than are
    non-Natives
  • Less culture shock
  • Housing is (usually) more available
  • Family and friends provide a support system
  • Natives are used to the isolation and remoteness
    of many reservation communities
  • They are used to the poor infrastructure.

9
Possible SolutionIncrease the Number of Native
Teachers
  • Native teachers can relate to Native students
    better than non-Natives can.
  • Native teachers can make lessons culturally
    relevant and culturally appropriate.
  • Native teachers can better understand Native
    students thought processes and learning styles.
  • Native teachers may speak their indigenous
    language and can communicate with students and
    parents.

10
Possible SolutionsAlternative Licensure
  • Young adults with college degrees want to return
    to the reservation, but there are few jobs for
    educated people.
  • Alternative routes to licensure may be a way to
    help increase the number of Native teachers in
    schools on or near reservations.

11
Research Question
  • What factors contribute to the recruitment and
    retention of Native American teachers in schools
    on or near the Navajo Nation in New Mexico?

12
Interview Protocol-Teachers
  • I visited with Native American teachers to learn
    their stories, including
  • education,
  • previous careers (if any),
  • challenges they faced in their journey to the
    classroom,
  • personal strengths that helped them become
    teachers and that help them in the classroom,
  • challenges they face in the classroom,
  • why they chose the licensure path they pursued,
    and
  • their perceptions of the value of Native American
    teachers in schools with large percentages of
    Native students.

12
13
Interview Protocol-Teachers
  • I asked teachers what factors have contributed to
    their decision to remain in the teaching
    profession and to remain in teaching positions in
    schools on or near the Navajo Reservation.

13
14
Interview ProtocolAdministrators
  • I interviewed two district administrators and
    four principals to learn the challenges they face
    in recruiting and retaining highly-qualified
    teachers for their schools
  • I interviewed administrators and teachers to
    learn their recommendations for Native Americans
    who wish to become teachers and their suggestions
    for ways to recruit and retain highly-qualified
    Nativeteachers for reservation schools.

14
15
Interview Protocol
  • In addition to the questions listed above, one
    Navajo Nation chapter asked that the study
    consider the value of teaching Native culture to
    Native students. An additional question was
    asked during teacher and administrator
    interviews
  • Why is it important for our students to know
    their culture?
  • What benefits do you see in teaching Native
    culture?

15
16
Methodology
  • Descriptive, collective case studies
  • Interviewed 15 teachers from 5 communities
  • Interviewed four principals
  • Interviewed two district administrators
  • Visited six Navajo chapters the school board to
    obtain resolutions supporting the research
  • Obtained approval from the Navajo Nation HRRB
    the ASU IRB.

17
Methodology
  • Teacher subjects were selected who
  • Became licensed since 1998
  • Were recommended by their schools Instructional
    Coaches
  • Represent a diversity of ages, genders, tribes,
    backgrounds, and teaching assignments.
  • Subjects are representative of the Native
    teachers in the district (assignments, gender,
    subjects).

18
Subjects backgrounds
  • Business owner
  • Factory worker
  • DWI program administrator
  • Community librarian
  • Artist
  • Motion picture actor
  • Wild land firefighter
  • Military
  • Physician
  • Health educator
  • Day care worker
  • Educational assistant
  • Post-secondary instructor
  • Social worker
  • Staff of youth residential treatment center

19
Who are the subjects?
  • Three males twelve females
  • Three high school three middle school nine
    elementary school
  • Ages 25-60
  • Teaching experience 0-12 years
  • Tribes Zuni, Choctaw-Wyandotte, Apache,
    Cherokee, Navajo
  • Licensure pathways 9 alternative 6 traditional
  • Two completed college while working as
    educational assistants.

20
Who are the administrator subjects?
  • 4 principals
  • 2 district administrators
  • One male five females
  • Three Natives three non-Natives
  • Experience in education ranges from 15-40 years
  • All administrators have at least five years of
    administrative experience.

20
21
Findings
  • Themespersonal attributes of teachers
  • Sense of mission
  • Sense of calling to teach
  • Perseverance resilience
  • Rise to challenges
  • Love of learning
  • Patience

22
Findings Sense of Mission
  • We Navajos feel intimidated when we leave our
    immediate world, because we do not have the same
    experiences, because we do not always have the
    same education. And I dont think that there
    really is an expectation that we can learn what
    everybody else can learn, and I think that has to
    stop.

23
Implications Sense of Mission
  • We must improve the education of reservation
    students, K-12, so that they can compete with
    students off the reservation.
  • All teachers must hold high expectationsfor all
    students, Native and non-Native.

24
Implications Sense of Mission
  • As educators, we need to help students see that
    the value of education is being able to help
    their people. This can best be done by
  • Taking students on field trips off the
    reservation.
  • Letting them observe Chapter and Tribal
    governments in action.
  • Empowering them to solve real-life problems in
    their schools, communities, and on the
    reservation.

25
Findings Calling to Teach
  • Ive been thinking of moving to another grade,
    but I like seeing the growth in first grade. The
    students come to first grade and they still have
    that kindergarten mentality. Then all of a
    sudden, in January or February, they go to the
    next level. That gives me the encouragement to
    go on. I love seeing that growth!

26
Implications Calling to Teach
  • Some subjects suggested that we encourage middle
    and high school students to consider teaching.
  • Having students tutor their peers or younger
    students would provide a taste of the teaching
    experience.

27
Implications Calling to Teach
  • Twelve of the 15 subjects indicated that teaching
    was not their first career choice when they were
    younger, and 9 teachers were alternatively
    certified. Some had wanted to be teachers in
    childhood, but changed their minds in college.
    Others came to teaching after time in the
    military or other careers.
  • Knowing this, educators should actively recruit
    college graduates who may not have degrees in
    education.
  • Administrators need to understandNew Mexicos
    alternative licensure pathways.

28
Findings Perseverance and resilience
  • Teachers did not identify resilience and/or
    perseverance as strengths. Rather, these
    attributes were threads that were woven through
    their stories
  • Going to college while raising a family taking
    classes and teaching while pregnant and caring
    for new infants
  • Completing college in spite of financial
    hardship, family obligations, or health problems.

29
Implications Perseverance and resilience
  • Fostering resilience in todays youth is crucial
    if we are to improve student achievement, lower
    the drop-out rate, and develop a pool of
    potential college graduates who can become
    teachers.
  • Research (Malloy Allen, 2007) indicates that
    building resiliency also helps improve teacher
    retention in rural schools.

30
Implications Perseverance and resilience
  • Schools should develop resiliency-building
    programs for both staff and students.
  • Native cultures traditionally have developed
    resiliency in their youth (Strand Peacock,
    2003).
  • Native culture experts should be included in
    developing a resiliency curriculum.

31
Findings Ability to confront challenges
  • Also, my general ability to confront a challenge
    is a strength. If I find something hard, I
    dont leave it at that, I go further. I dont
    settle for less often.
  • I know the challenges of being a minority and
    having no opportunities.
  • Its the challenge that keeps me going.

32
Implications Ability to confront challenges
  • Students need to be given opportunities to face
    challenges in a safe and nurturing environment.
  • Solving real life problems is one way that
    students can confront challenges and reap the
    rewards of their successes.

33
Findings Love of learning
  • My general personality is that I love
    learning. I love subjects that I have no idea
    what theyre about--and really getting into
    that.

34
Implications Love of learning
  • Given high reservation drop-out rates, high
    student absenteeism, and the negative attitudes
    many Native students and their parents have
    towards school and learning, it is exciting to
    find Native individuals who love to learn.
  • If those teachers can share their enthusiasm for
    learning with their students, perhaps some of the
    negativity towards education can be reversed.
  • The more opportunities students have to engage in
    personally relevant learning activities, the more
    likely they are to develop a love of learning.

35
Findings Patience
  • I think the most important strength that I have
    is patience now. Ive learned to wait and see
    the whole picture, instead of react.

36
Implications Additional strengths that help in
classroom
  • Most teachers found that being Native enhanced
    their ability to relate to students and to
    communicate with parents and staff.
  • Teachers also value receiving feedback from
    administrators, coaches, and/or colleagues.
  • We need to ensure that new teachers are provided
    with mentors who are able to observe them in the
    classroom and coach them in order to improve
    their teaching practice.
  • Instructional coaching (from coaches, colleagues,
    and/or administrators) is very valuable for all
    teachers, but especially for new teachers.

37
Additional Findings
  • Challenges
  • Perceptions of the value of Native teachers
  • Positive
  • Negative
  • Value of teaching Native Culture

38
Findings Challenges faced in classroom--colleague
s
  • Its been a challenge for me to work with a new
    grade level partner every year. Im trying to
    adjust to new students and every year, Ive also
    had to adjust to a new teacher. Most of the
    teachers have been brand new alternative
    licensure teachers, so thats been hard.

39
Implications Challenges faced in
classroom--colleagues
  • The high rate of teacher turnover in some
    reservation schools is demoralizing for staff.
    It is very difficult to build a successful
    instructional team when a large percentage of the
    schools staff often is new each year.
  • Administrators should make it a priority to
    recruit teachers who are likely to stay at the
    school for more than a few years
  • Developing a culture of collegiality that
    encourages retention also should be a priority
    for administrators and staff.
  • The perception that some Native teachers are lazy
    or not well-prepared also needs to be addressed.
  • All teachers need to be held to the same high
    expectations.

40
Implications Challenges faced in classroom
  • Discipline Administrators need to ensure that
    new teachers receive coaching and mentoring in
    effective classroom management techniques.
    Schools also need to develop a comprehensive
    behavior policy, such as Positive Behavior
    Supports.
  • Diverse Needs New teachers need to receive
    training in techniques to address the needs of
    various learners, including special needs
    students and ELLs.

41
Findings Value of Native educators
  • Students would be able to not hold back all
    their information, but could give their potential
    to that Native teacher. Sometimes, students
    will hold back on things--put a shell around
    themselves--when they have a teacher who does not
    understand their culture. The parents,
    grandparents, or guardians of the children will
    feel more comfortable with a Native American
    teacher. They will feel more comfortable sharing
    things that happen in the school or at home with
    a Native teacher.

42
Implications Value of Native educators
  • Administrators need to actively recruit Native
    educators.
  • Most of the teachers in the study did not plan to
    become teachers. We need to cast our recruiting
    nets farther than traditional teacher training
    programs and encourage Natives who have earned
    college degrees to enter the teaching profession.
  • Administrators should encourage parents and
    assistants to complete college and become
    licensed to teach.

43
Findings Negative perceptions of Native educators
  • Probably the biggest challenge that Im seeing
    for them Native teachers is in the writing
    areas. They really need to focus in high school
    and in those early college years to perfect those
    writing skills. As educators, as teachers, we
    really need to start perfecting those writing
    skills in the elementary years. Administrator.

44
Findings Negative perceptions of Native educators
  • And theres some animosity on the part of
    parents towards Navajo teachers. For me, it
    doesnt matter what race you are as long as you
    have a commitment to Navajo children.

45
Implications Negative perceptions of Native
educators
  • We need to ensure that current students are given
    the literacy, numeracy, and critical thinking
    skills that will enable them to be successful in
    college and in life.
  • Districts should work with local colleges to
    ensure that future teachers are equipped with
    writing and critical thinking skills so that they
    can teach these skills to their students.
  • Districts should help current teachers develop
    and hone these skills.

46
Findings Value of Native Culture
  • We wonder why theres so much violence and so
    muchreallyhate, and theres no self-respect
    anymore.That wasnt here when we had real values
    in our culture. There was a real understanding
    of who you were, where you came from, who your
    family was, and where your home was. And because
    those teachings of your homethis is where the
    fire is, everything you need to live is here in
    this placethese kids nowadays dont have that.

47
ImplicationsNative culture
  • It is imperative that schools serving large
    percentages of Native American students provide
    classes in Native culture and language. (These
    are required by law in New Mexico.)
  • All teachers (Native and non-Native) need to
    understand Native culture and need to embed
    culturally-responsive pedagogy into their
    teaching practice.
  • Students tend to learn better when culture is
    used to hook their interest and instill
    excitement about learning.
  • All teachers should honor and validate the
    culture of the students in their classrooms.

48
ConclusionsRecruiting teachers
  • Work by several researchers has indicated that
    alternative routes may be a viable option for
    recruiting and training minority teachers
    (Feistritzer, 2007 Villegas Lucas, 2005).
  • Nine of the 15 subjects were alternatively
    licensed teachers who have been in positions at
    their schools for at least two years.
    Instructional Coaches recommended these teachers
    for this study, based on their work with these
    teachers.

49
ConclusionsRecruiting teachers
  • Some researchers (Berliner, 2000
    Darling-Hammond, 2008) believe that
    under-licensed teachers are harmful to
    students.
  • However, what appears to be more harmful to
    students and schools is the excessive turnover
    that often results when alternatively licensed
    teachers are not comfortable with Native culture,
    the challenges of teaching under-achieving
    students, and the realities of living on a
    reservation.
  • Administrators should recruit teachers who are
    likely to remain on the reservation for more
    than a few years.

50
ImplicationsRetaining teachers
  • Implications that are unique to reservation
    schools include
  • Provide housing and security in teacherage areas
  • Provide increased rural stipends
  • Establish professional learning communities,
    K-12, in remote areas
  • Make professional development opportunities more
    available to teachers or teachers-in-training who
    live in remote areas (both district-sponsored
    trainings and university courses).
  • Provide resiliency training for teachers.

51
ConclusionsRetaining teachers
  • Tribes and districts need to collaborate to
    provide programs that will support new Native
    teachers, especially those who are on Alternative
    licensure. A system of coaching, monthly
    seminars, and collegial support similar to that
    developed by Teach for America has been suggested
    as a possibility.

52
RecommendationsEducating Native Americans
  • We need to
  • improve Native students critical thinking
    skills.
  • focus on writing K-12.
  • help prospective teachers prepare for the NMTA.
  • ensure that Native teachers are trained in the
    latest research-based pedagogy.
  • ensure that Natives know their culture and the
    cultures of the area.
  • implement culturally-relevant curricula.

53
Summary
  • And I dont think that there really is an
    expectation that we can learn what everybody else
    can learn, and I think that has to stop.
  • I think that this statement is probably the most
    important message gleaned from this study. We
    must hold our students to the same expectations
    as students in non-reservation schools. And we
    must provide our students with quality
    educations.

54
What recommendations do you have for future
research on the Navajo Nation?
  • Some teachers indicated that parents and
    community members are biased against Native
    teachers. Teachers also indicated that some
    Native teachers are lazy, or are not willing to
    go the extra mile for kids. More research needs
    to be conducted to determine how widespread these
    perceptions are and the validity of the
    perceptions.
  • Challenges
  • Getting people to admit that there are biases
    against Native teachers may be difficult.

55
What recommendations do you have for future
research on the Navajo Nation?
  • Longitudinal studies should be conducted to
    compare retention rates of alternatively and
    traditionally licensed Native teachers.
  • Challenges
  • Gaining access to district or school personnel
    files may be difficult, since the data are
    confidential.

56
What recommendations do you have for future
research on the Navajo Nation?
  • Student achievement data should be compared to
    determine the effectiveness of Native teachers
    compared to non-Native teachers.
  • Challenges
  • Gaining access to student achievement data is
    very difficult!

57
What recommendations do you have for future
research on the Navajo Nation?
  • Alternatively and traditionally-licensed
    teachers teaching skills should be compared,
    using a classroom walk-through rubric or
    administrator and/or instructional coach
    observations.
  • Challenges
  • The researcher would need to conduct the
    walk-throughs in order to avoid problems with
    inter-rater reliability.

58
How the Navajo Nation can help new teachers
  • Create a support network, similar to that
    provided by Teach for America for its corps
    members.
  • Provide Native mentors for new Native teachers
  • Provide workshops for new teachers, both Native
    and non-Native
  • Provide resources for schools to help new
    teachers better understand Diné culture.

59
Final thoughts
  • I am very honored to have been able to visit with
    the educators in this study. They are very
    competent, caring, and creative individuals who
    are committed to our kids and to improving the
    life of the Diné.
  • I believe that committed, capable teachers are
    key to improving education on the Navajo Nation,
    and ultimately, to solving the problems that
    confront the Diné.

60
Friendship Basket, Mary H. Black, Navajo.
  • The importance of family and neighborly support
    is the focus of this basket. Family is without a
    doubt the most important aspect of the Navajo
    culture. There is a built-in support system
    within the family, which is essential to their
    survival in this vast and open country. Neighbors
    are important for many of the same reasons. In
    this basket, the small black spot in the center
    of the basket represents the growth and emergence
    of the Navajo people from the mythical lower
    worlds. The four rainbow segments surrounding the
    opening guard and protect this sacred place. The
    peoplefamily, friends and neighborsall join
    hands in friendship.
  • http//www.canyonart.com/baskets.htm
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