Wolakota Project (retreat series)
In 2011, the WoLakota Project was born via a collaboration between the South Dakota Department of Education, the South Dakota Office of Indian Education, the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Elders who authored the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings (OSEU) and Technology & Innovation in Education (TIE). The goals were to support the learning of all South Dakota students.
1. Teacher Retention, particularly in high-needs schools with a high Native student population.
Each year around 18 new teachers working in high-needs schools are invited to be a part of the WoLakota Circle. They are joined by 6 WoLakota Mentors (each mentor is assigned to 3 mentees) and this circle of 24 participates in 4 seasonal-themed retreats throughout the school year at Placerville Camp in the Black Hills. Each mentee also receives weekly contact from their mentor and three classroom visits during that same period.
This combination of: 1) Face-to-face retreats, 2) Ongoing distance mentoring 3) Classroom visits / conferencing has proven to be exceptionally effective in supporting new teachers in their practice and insuring that they are more likely to continue to teach, even in our high-needs, high-challenge school settings. The retreats are based on the Circle of Trust® model developed by the Center for Courage & Renewal®. The Circle of Trust® is a globally recognized and research supported approach that informs all of the work of the WoLakota Project.
2. The development of Culturally Responsive Teaching with a key focus on the implementation of the OSEU.
New teachers who are a part of the WoLakota Circle receive a great deal of support, modeling and practice in implementing the OSEU and many culturally responsive ways of being in the classroom. The WoLakota Project staff also support schools and districts who are ready to implement the OSEU and develop culturally responsive approaches to learning and teaching through staff P.D., modeling and conferencing.
The WoLakota Project staff have helped schools and districts across South Dakota to use the OSEU and the extensive Elder video interviews housed on the www.wolakotaproject.org site, to build lessons at all grade levels, in any subject area, aligned to the OSEU, and to develop more culturally responsive classroom approaches. View full brochure here: http://www.wolakotaproject.org/wolakota-project-web-brochure/
By the end of this session, participants will be able to:
- The WoLakota Project improves learning among Native students by increasing the cultural appropriateness of classroom materials and supporting stability in the teaching staff thereby reducing things like the dropout rate and the achievement gap.
- The WoLakota Project increases learning among non-Native students by building awareness and authentic understanding of the indigenous people of our state through materials that are less biased and more holistic than the narrow, sanitized perspectives students often acquire from studying traditional history texts written by non-natives about Native culture and history.
- The WoLakota Project helps educators, students, and in many cases, parents and community members to develop safe spaces and respectful approaches for understanding between, among and within diverse cultural backgrounds.
- Essentially, the WoLakota Project supports the development of Culturally Responsive educational practices that value and make space for all cultural and individual perspectives in order to maximize the potential growth of ALL learners.