What is the Diné Institute for Navajo Nation Educators (DINÉ)?
The Diné Institute for Navajo Nation Educators (DINÉ) is a partnership between Northern Arizona University and Navajo schools aimed at strengthening teaching in K-12 schools serving Diné and other Indigenous students. The DINÉ began with 9 teachers in 2018, and we have had approximately 85 teachers complete the program since then. In 2022, we have about 45 teachers participating in the DINÉ. Each teacher in the DINÉ writes a robust curriculum unit that we publish online so that other educators can access, adapt, and use them in their own classrooms. There is a clear need and interest in sustaining and growing this program in the coming years.
Teachers who are DINÉ Fellows participate in an 8-month Fellowship that will increase their:
- Content knowledge
- Curriculum-development skills
- Capacity to deliver culturally responsive lessons
- Leadership ability
- Writing capacity
Teachers participate in a seminar group that is led by University faculty who are content experts. Teachers learn the seminar material through reading, discussion, and independent research. Each teacher writes a unique curriculum unit for use in their classroom.
The Diné Institute for Navajo Nation Educators (DINÉ) is centered around 3 guiding principles:
- Diné and other Indigenous youth, teachers, elders, and communities are rich sources and sites of knowledge.
- Culturally responsive schooling is a best practice, and the DINÉ integrates Navajo traditional knowledge throughout all aspects of our teaching, learning, and leading.
- Initiatives that strengthen teaching through culturally responsive professional development will in turn improve the educational attainment of Diné and other Indigenous youth, which is a necessary component for tribal nation (re)building goals of sovereign Native Nations in the U.S.
The DINÉ has three broad goals:
- Establish sustainable partnerships between Navajo schools and NAU that empower teacher growth and foster mutually beneficial cultural and content knowledge between the partners.
- Build capacity for culturally responsive, academically rigorous curriculum development and delivery among all teachers in Navajo schools.
- Enhance and promote teacher leadership and student achievement within Navajo schools.