Effective teachers and school leaders provide educational opportunities that prepare Native students to succeed in college and their careers. States can help in addressing gaps in the pipeline of qualified teachers and leaders through professional development and support for recruitment and retention. 

Ideally, teachers and leaders would share the same cultural background as the students, or Local Education Agencies (LEAs) would have high expectations of school staff to use culturally appropriate practices. 

Additionally, State Education Agencies (SEAs) could engage in efforts to interest Native students in pursuing education careers and work with colleges and universities (including tribal colleges) to recruit Native candidates for teacher education programs. SEAs could also provide professional learning opportunities on cultural relevance to all school staff. 

    • Image of cover Teachers and Leaders Brief
    • Image of cover Teachers and Leaders: Native Teachers, Culture, and History Quick Reference
      • American Indian Teacher Program

        The American Indian Teacher Program prepares indigenous students to become teachers for urban schools with significant numbers of indigenous students.

      • I LEAD Project

        Montana State University – Bozeman’s I LEAD project recruits, educates, certifies, and places indigenous educators into administrative positions in schools with high populations of indigenous students.

      • Indigenous Knowledge for Effective Education Program

        Indigenous Knowledge for Effective Education Program (IKEEP), at the University of Idaho, recruits and certifies culturally responsive indigenous teachers using a cohort model.

      • The Liber Institute

        The Liber Institute builds the leadership capacity of teachers and principals to redesign the cultural and instructional practices of schools. The Institute organizes its work in three interwoven strands: a culturally responsive teaching fellowship for teachers, transformational leadership coaching for school leaders, and a liberatory design lab focused on unearthing and incubating local approaches to building more equitable schools and institutions.

      • NACA Inspired Schools Network

        The NACA Inspired Schools Network works with fellows who are committed to indigenous communities to establish schools throughout the country that will create strong leaders who are academically prepared, secure in their identities, healthy, and ultimately working to transform their communities.

      • Native American Language and Culture Certificates

        Several states offer Native American Language and Culture Certificates authorizing individuals to teach indigenous languages and cultures of specific tribes and pueblos.

      • Native Education Certificate Program

        The University of Washington School of Education’s Native Education Certificate Program is designed for students who plan to teach indigenous students.

      • Sapsikala (Teacher) Program

        The Sapsikala (Teacher) Program uses a cohort-within-a-cohort model for students to learn Indigenous methodologies for teaching while obtaining Oregon teacher licensure.

      Download the complete Native Education Resource List.

    • The Teachers and Leaders category has four demonstrations of effective integration.

      1. The state encourages and supports the recruitment of Native students to serve as future teachers and school administrators. 
      2. The state requires teacher and school leader college preparation programs to build prospective educators’ knowledge of Native culture and history.
      3. The state requires current teachers and school leaders to increase their understanding of Native students within the context of their family and community structures.
      4. The state supports and encourages the inclusion of Native speakers and culture experts in school programs. The state creates alternative pathways for certification to honor this knowledge.