1. Make the classroom a safe environment for learning

1.1 Understand, anticipate and allay fears

Many students, Indigenous or not, feel trepidation as they enter a classroom where they may feel uninformed or out of place. Numerically speaking, most Indigenous teaching involves non-Indigenous students, so the issue of such students' fears is a real one for many teachers. Resistance to the subject matter may also be encountered. Some teachers draw on their own experiences as a way of connecting to students. Overall, the emphasis is on creating a safe environment in which students can express themselves.

There is a saying: 'Don't ask if you don't want to hear the answer'. Inviting students to express themselves is risky, and teachers can find some students' initial assumptions very confronting. These teachers, however, first foster an atmosphere of mutual respect, and then focus on dealing with any unexpected outcomes in a professional way. Students' feelings of fear, guilt, resentment, or shame can sometimes translate into direct challenges in the classroom, and this is dealt with under 5.

The Approaches below relate mostly to teaching non-Indigenous students with issue relating to Indigenous students discussed under 1.2.



1.2 Establish relationships of trust and respect