ERIC Number: ED417895
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1998-Mar
Teaching Navajo Bilingual Special Education Students: Challenges and Strategies.
Lewis, Jamie B.; deMarrais, Kathleen Bennett; Prater, Greg
Native American students are often placed in special education programs because their English is poor, they are unprepared for an unfamiliar environment, and traditional classrooms do not accommodate their strengths and needs. The lack of Native American special education teachers at reservation schools compounds these difficulties. Three elementary and middle school special education teachers in a remote Arizona Navajo community were interviewed concerning the ways they worked with their students. All three teachers identified language as a barrier in working with the students, both because the Navajo students had limited English proficiency and because the two Anglo teachers only spoke English. None of the teachers had preservice or inservice education related to working with bilingual children. Difficulties with the English language were mistaken for learning disabilities. The strategies that the teachers used in working with their students were direct communication with students and parents about school expectations, using extrinsic and intrinsic rewards to build self-esteem, creating a structured and comfortable learning environment, breaking tasks down into small steps, and using hands-on manipulative approaches. Recommendations for teacher education programs are concerned with needs in bilingual, special, and multicultural education; culturally relevant education; and the use of community members or bilingual teaching assistants. (TD)
Descriptors: American Indian Education, Bilingual Special Education, Culturally Relevant Education, Educational Needs, Educational Strategies, Elementary Secondary Education, Limited English Speaking, Navajo (Nation), Reservation American Indians, Rural Education, Special Education Teachers, Teacher Education, Teaching Experience
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A
Note: In: Coming Together: Preparing for Rural Special Education in the 21st Century. Conference Proceedings of the American Council on Rural Special Education (18th, Charleston, SC, March 25-28, 1998); see RC 021 434.