A message from our inbox…
The year was 1990something, the place was a now closed elementary school in Waterloo, Iowa, by the name of Longfellow. I was a 5th grade teacher with six to eight years of experience. The new principal brought in a TRIBES trainer, something I had never heard about (the internet was only in its infancy), and I was determined the principal was crazy and whatever this was it would not impact change.
I was, and remain, a professional and, even with a fixed mindset, continued to pay attention and participate in the many activities being introduced; although at the time I was not sure what the logic behind the activities was. Still, I persevered and payed attention.
At this time in education we were still islands of classrooms, no serious collaboration between and among the teachers (it was looming, and it was not understood). I began to recognize that the disruptions to my classroom connected to what was being discussed and learned about in the TRIBES training. I began to see connections.
Real life set in and I began with the community agreements and community circles. Monday’s turned out to be our longest ‘circle’, as students began to trust their peers and share horrifying/funny/emotional information. We started a journey as a ‘family’ and it forever changed the way I taught.
Damn, I really didn’t want to give my then principal any credit!
I moved up to the middle school and with some modifications continued to practice the community agreements with great success. Students simply did not leave my room for their behavior (save a very very rare fight that happened once in my ten years at middle school in my room).
I moved on and became a principal and have found in my 8 years in my current role that teachers still struggle with building relationships and trust. Some have the skills almost innately, others not so much. Different cultures, different expectations, different preconceived expectations of behavior all come into play.
My original TRIBES book has long been loaned out and forgotten, my ‘newish’ replacement book is constantly on loan and well loved.
TRIBES isn’t a program, it is a way of thinking and recognizing that our students come with baggage and to learn they need a place to leave those bags. A place to drop them off and then pick them up later. TRIBES, in my humble opinion, has elements of Boy’s Town, of Love and Logic, of PBIS, and it even recognizes the ACE Responses that students may have.
At this point I am not sure my current school can afford or even find the time for TRIBES training, that isn’t really my reason for this diatribe. My reason is rather simple; I just wanted you to know that this way of thinking forever changed at least one educator and allowed him to develop strong relationships with not only his students, but the community in which he taught.
If you are ever in the market for adding on a trainer, I am interested.
Thank you for your time,