The Group

Participants were teachers from across Montana, including some from schools on and nearby Indian Reservations. Approximate number of participants was 12. The goal of engaging these teachers in a Reflection was to give them the experience while promoting Reflect: Classroom Conversation, a program of Humanities Montana. Montana K-12 curriculum is mandated to include Indian Education For All. Participants were teachers of 6-12 graders and annual conference attendees.

Highlights

Each participant contributed to the conversation and diverse viewpoints were expressed. Due to putting in a proposal months prior to the conference I had ample time to prepare the session. It was great to collaborate with Montana's Office of Public Instruction to deliver this activity. The discussion was both engaging and included some meaningful silence. It was very interesting to hear the different world views of teachers in Montana. Some of the most interesting parts of the discussion included wisdom from elders, cultural value of elders, the notion of good and bad, being born as someone new and learning/teaching the good from the bad.

Challenges

Logistically we did not know ahead of time how many participants we would have in the session. This was fine, but if the participants’ info was available we could have planned more effectively and provided some food and fewer copies of the text. Overall there were no significant challenges. I am considering using a closing question/activity in the future.

Opening Activity

Yes, used an opening question/activity. Opener was to respond to the question: What has an elder/teacher/mentor taught you that you treasure? I had the participants consider their response in a full minute then asked them to share their thoughts with a neighbor in the room.

Discussion Questions

I asked such questions as "What about this poem interests you?" "How do you define good and bad?, What are some examples and how do we decide?" Do you agree (as the poem reads) that "We are born as someone new so then We have to be taught The good from the bad"?  And, how might students be "born as someone new"?

Closing Activity

Not specifically. Ended when the conversation felt right.

Final Thoughts

I would recommend Birthright-Born To Poetry-A Collection of Montana Indian Poetry as a resource for Civic Reflection facilitators.

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