Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Lonnie L. Rowell, PhD, Director; Gwendalle Cooper, EdD; Ray Latta, PhD


British Columbia (Canada), children & youth, cultural programs, curriculum, First Nations, Leadership studies, minority & ethnic groups, qualitative, teachers


With the European settlement of North America, the education of First Nations children shifted from being carried out in a natural setting by all community members, communicated through observation and trial, and instructed through values, needs, and traditions; to a whole-group learning model founded on a standard curriculum based on successes and failures. For at least the past fifty years First Nations adults have demanded greater control over their children's education. Recently, the Ministry of Education in British Columbia (BC) has advocated for greater success of First Nations students by providing funding for additional support and by increasing the number of First Nations language and cultural programs. Even though the First Nations community and BC politicians want First Nations students to have more success, research illustrates that First Nations students continue to struggle academically. Yet, although research indicates that the person having the greatest impact on student success is the classroom teacher, very little research exists examining teachers who are successful in working with First Nations students. This qualitative study focused on the beliefs and the teaching techniques of six teachers who worked successfully with First Nations students. The teachers were interviewed using Haberman's Star Teacher Selection Interview. Teacher constructs related to the success of First Nations students are arranged into four key attributes: building relationships, the teaching of morality, classroom pedagogy, and teacher preparation. Teachers who work successfully with First Nations students need to build relationships by being cognizant of the environment that both they and their students bring to the classroom; understanding, appreciating, and valuing these students; and integrating First Nations beliefs into the curriculum. They need to view morality as a quality that goes beyond the four classroom walls and be proactive in promoting a holistic approach to nurturing morality. They need to maintain a classroom environment that is safe, friendly, predictable, and consistent. While none of the teachers in this study participated in teaching practicums which required them to work in a First Nations community, they all worked with a minority culture early in their careers that assisted in shaping their beliefs about working with First Nations students. In addition, teachers who work successfully with First Nations students need to be persistent in solving seemingly unending problems and protecting their students from the educational system's bureaucracy.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access