Culturally Relevant Pedagogy in Education for First Nations, Metis, & Inuit Students

Embedding culturally-relevant pedagogy into teaching can help students to:

  • build self-esteem, understanding, and tolerance between individuals, classrooms, and greater community;
  • increase open and acceptable communication among and between students, staff, admin, parents, and community;
  • build respect, aid in collaboration, and allows for integrated and differentiated teaching approaches that benefit all diverse cultural backgrounds and special needs for all students.

Students benefit from culturally responsive teaching approaches because it:

  • fosters less fear and greater confidence,
  • increases the feeling of being understood, decreases the feeling like they must assimilate to fit in,
  • helps individuals to embrace and feel accepted for their own culture, and
  • allows students to feel comfortable to always set higher standards for learning and achievement, because they are accepted and understood.

The truth is, we never know what our student’s cultural backgrounds are. Just because students may appear to be Caucasian, does not mean that they are not of First Nations, Metis, or Inuit heritage, or another cultural background.

Questions Educators can Consider:

  • How many of our students self-identify?
  • What are the residual effects of the Indian Act and Residential school system that we are unable to ‘see’ just because a student looks to be Caucasian?
  • Do we have to know the cultures of all of our students

Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices can accomplish, an increased awareness and mutual understanding of our diversity. Educators don’t necessarily need to know each and every culture, but we should aim to understand that they exist, and aim to understand each student as a whole person, including the cultures that make each and every one of them special and unique.

Differentiated Instruction practices, and using a wide variety of resources, including the students themselves, and other members of the community can help to infuse diversity into the classroom as well. If we are using resources that do not include diversity, this can also be an important discussion point, and opportunity to engage in further inquiry, and critical thinking.

Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices can be infused using a variety of Differentiate Teaching strategies, talking circles, Holistic Teaching practices, and through students own research and sharing within the classroom.

Examples of Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices:

  • Providing Continuous Communication with parents in appropriate ways that meet their needs
  • Inviting parents to communicate
  • Recognizing own limitations and communicating them
  • Conducting needs assessments and surveys for parents
  • Sending home Weekly or monthly newsletters
  • Researching cultural backgrounds of students
  • Touring student’s neighborhoods
  • Understanding student’s behaviours in light of community norms
  • Setting clear expectations
  • Creating respectful environments
  • Adapting lessons to reflect ways of communicating and learning that are familiar for students
  • Differentiating instruction
  • Teaching and talk to students about differences between individuals
  • Encouraging students to direct their own learning
  • Working with other students on projects that are culturally relevant to them
  • Culturally mediated Instruction
  • Helping students to recognize that there are more than one way to interpret a statement, event or action,
  • Setting realistic yet rigorous goals
  • Allowing for opportunities to share culture
  • Teaching students to question and challenge their own beliefs and actions
  • Creating meaningful connections between curriculum and real life
  • Giving Choices of working alone or in groups
  • Integrating units around universal themes
  • Accessing appropriate websites, videos, and links that will support your Pedagogy
  • Using eLearning strategies to share and teach others about student cultures

Teaching Strategies & Best Practices:

  1. The use of ‘Talking Circles’ within the classroom to introduce cultural perspectives into the classroom is very important. Additional benefits of Talking Circles can include turn taking, respect, creating a classroom community, sending positive messages relating to Character Education & Inclusiveness, and building Community, Culture, & Caring into the Education system.
  2. Engaging in Holistic Teaching is also important so that educators can help students to connect personal feelings, emotions, and experiences with the knowledge to create meaning.
  3. Integrating Medicine Wheel Teachings into the Curriculum is valuable to integrate First Nations, Metis & Inuit perspectives, and create a positive classroom community for behavior and learning, and helping students reflect on their own gifts & strengths, and to set personal and educational goals.
  4. Engaging in ‘Storytelling’ where students can create their own ‘Stories’ or legends about their special gifts.

Best Practices can also Include:

  • Helping families out by filling out paperwork etc.;
  • Going that extra mile to help make personal connections to teachers and staff
  • Incorporating cultural teachings across the curriculum into content areas including science, art, music, language, history, geography, & social studies
  • Inviting families to share with the classrooms and schools if they are comfortable
  • Helping to connect families to community network supports
  • Teaching students to deconstruct bias in learning resources
  • Inviting Aboriginal Elders, Storytellers, Authors & Artists into the classroom
  • Using resources that represent an Authentic voice
  • Technology may or may not be used within the home, so use this form of communication with caution. We must use it in ways that support our families and students, not alienate them.


Deborah McCallum






3 responses to “Culturally Relevant Pedagogy in Education for First Nations, Metis, & Inuit Students”

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