Wednesday, February 15, 2012

PLN - Tribes

On Thursday 26th, 2012, my fellow cohort F'ers and myself became certified in Tribes. Pat on the shoulder!!! I am thrilled to have had this experience so early in my career as this is incredibly important to have entering the education field today. My wonderful and inspiring trainer was Gail Phillips who is a cohort leader/faculty advisor of no other than the best cohort at Brock University, cohort F. Gail asked our cohort very early in the year if we as a student body were interested in this opportunity and of course we didn't need a second to think about it and we jumped on the Tribes train and what a ride it has been! For 3 non-consecutive days, our cohort grew into a strong community with deep respect for our individual talents. It was a time to form special relationships, ones that will probably last a life time. 

The topic highlighted was that the Tribe agreements and the tribe strategies that we had learned in the duration of the 3 days were in fact something that we could feel confident implementing into the classroom. These agreements are known as Appreciation/no put downs, Mutual Respect, Right to Pass-Right to participate and Attentive Listening. As well as, an extensive list of strategies and energizers. For example, Community Circle, Do After Me, Shuffle Your Buns and Creative Storytelling. These can be found in Jeanne Gibbs book entitled, "Reaching All by Creating Tribes Learning Communities", which the course is based on. 

In our individual tribe groups, as a closing activity we created keychains with beads that represented every person in our group. While handing out your beads to your group members, you exchanged positive and caring words about that individual. For my group, this process was a very emotional one as we are very close friends and Tribes made us that much closer. We were allowed to keep them as a reminder of the special bond we have and the sense of community we will forever cherish. 

Based on what Tribes has taught me, I can use the ability to form community through inclusion in my teaching instruction. In one way or another, I can use a Tribe strategy or energizer in almost EVERY lesson I teach. An example of a Tribe strategy you could use during instruction would be a Gallery Walk. This strategy requires students to write positive comments on their peers work while walking around the classroom. From the beginning of the year, it is the responsibility of the educator to create a warm, caring, open, positive and inclusive environment for students to feel safe. Integrating Tribe strategy's and energizers in lessons allows children to reconnect with their friends and create new friendships. It also gets children up and moving, engaged and excited. If a hostile learning environment surrounds children then students are not comfortable to learn and grow to their potential. 

I chose this professional development presentation due to the profound impact it has on education systems today. More and more schools in Ontario are recognized as Tribe schools and educators are expected to become certified. Tribes not only affects the students but it also affects the sense of community within the school and within the community. Teachers, educational assistants, early child educators, secretary staff and principles are all apart of the positive and inclusive environment. I will most definitely adapt Tribes in my classroom in the future as I want students to respect and abide by the four agreements. In my first block experience, I had the pleasure of seeing how a Tribes school operated. Specifically, my teacher associate placed students according to where there tribe was in the class as this was their seating plan. As a result, when it came to group activities students were already prepared to work as a team in their tribes. The feeling of inclusion and community I felt was overwhelming and inspiring. My teacher associate examplififed how Tribes can be successful. On my last day, I was able to use a few Tribe strategies with my students during a goodbye party and this was incredibly rewarding.