Resident Literacy Expert Jill Eisenberg began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.
In light of Thanksgiving coming, many teachers and syllabi touch upon Native American history. As the Common Core is front and center for teachers, parents, and districts as of late, we are tasked with equipping children to be “career and college ready.” This includes not only literacy and mathematics standards, but also a commitment to teaching children about the multicultural world they live in and the complex history that came before them.
One unit that I initially was intimidated to teach was about the local Native American tribes of the Bay Area. We had wrapped up the science unit on the solar system and were changing gears for a history unit about the local Bay Area tribes. I felt significantly less confident teaching about the history of the local Native American tribes because there is more complexity, more nuance, and more sensitivity needed in investigating and appreciating groups of people, traditions, and cultures…than, well, planets.