Since introducing Tribes with the class I have had many opportunities to put students into their new longer term learning groups. I have been very pleased to observe how the Tribe Leaders are managing their roles, as well as how the students are practicing working together and supporting one another.
With the Tribes concept the classroom has been transformed into a learning community. For example, I have noticed how students in their Tribes are supporting those who are behind in their work. Often, here in China students will not complete their homework, and as a result Tribes have made it so students are less accountable to me, as the educator and more accountable to their Tribe; their community. This strategy has been working well, and I find students are working to catch up with their Tribe and as a result are both learning from the process of doing their homework and working together as a team. For instance, my class has workbooks, which accompany the main text, and which I often give as a homework task. I have had the Tribes form and review each other’s workbooks and this has been a very good strategy for several reasons. Firstly, it reduces the amount of questions asked by students because they are first going to their Tribes to see if someone can answer a question they did not know how to answer. Secondly, it has started to establish a communal way of studying and learning as a group and less as an individual. Those who often have the answers are benefiting because they are now becoming the educator and having to explain the concept they know, as well, the student who is unclear is learning to ask for support. Through the use of Tribes I have become less of an educator who talks at students and more a facilitator who is encouraging community based learning. My role is to provide the support if no one else in the Tribe can, yet I often find in each Tribe there are students who know the answers and I am encouraging them to reach out to one another.
Every week I assign a writing journal topic. This past week I asked students to reflect on their experience working in Tribes and what they have been learning through the process. Many responded with saying they had become better at working together with their Tribe members. Since Tribes concept is designed to ensure students are in a group with at least one friend or student of their choice, encouraging them to work together has not been a challenge. I have even noticed how the dynamic of the classroom is changing. Although, in my class there are no major divisions between students, I can see how many clusters of friends are merging with other groups. Tribes has introduced students to others in the classroom and I believe, created a more trusting community among peers. I have been encouraged by the outcome so far and look forward to seeing how the Tribes will evolve over the next couple of months.
Lesson Notes: What type of educator do you see yourself as? I asked myself this question while completing the education program and it has helped me to shape both who I am in the classroom and what I want my classroom to be. I did not see myself as the person at the front talking at students for endless minutes, nor did I see myself as always following the book. Yet, I saw myself playing many roles. The role of a facilitator, there to encourage, support and foster a desire to learn. As well, I say myself as an educator willing to take risks and try new things, which may appear outside the box. Something to think about; what type of Tribe member would you be? Is it similar to the educator you want to be?
Ms. Kolshuk's Blog
Welcome to my blog where I post about my teaching practice, ideas, findings and discuss topics of an educational nature. Please feel free to comment and/or email with any topic suggestions.