Quite recently my career has shifted from the public sphere to the private domain. At the end our day of professional development, the participants were of the same opinion: it was not only informative but it provided the platform to build vital skills in our discipline, which is that of education.
My introduction to the system of Tribes agreements was quite recent. These Agreements stand upon four pillars: mutual respect, attentive listening, appreciations (no put downs) and the right to participate/pass. When practised within the learning experience, the result is a safe classroom environment where every stakeholder in education (students, teachers, parents, administrators and investors) can benefit. The principles of Tribes extend beyond the classroom and can be utilised in the home and the community.
Upon arrival to today’s session the first thing that stood out was the seating arrangement. The chairs were arranged in a continuous circle to demonstrate the preference of the “guide on the side” instead of the “sage on stage”. The presenter effectively disseminated informative resources that would assist within the session and were transferable to the classroom.
The session began with a definition of Tribes and the ensuing powerful influence it would have in delivering the written and the hidden curriculum. Through Tribes, the information in the various subject areas would be covered. The participants were urged to ask the students to describe what the four pillars of the Tribes agreement would look, sound and feel like. By doing this issues relating to classroom management will significantly decrease. In addition the facilitator introduced the statement of appreciation. This exemplifies the affective aspect of the lesson plan as most of the focus is on the cognitive and psychomotor skills. It appears in some cases that affective skills are all but forgotten or neglected. For instance, to inculcate the feelings of kindness the concept of “Have you filled your bucket today?” was introduced to aid appreciation and attentive listening. Furthermore, there would be a significant development in the emotional intelligence within the students, which is crucial to success for the future. It must be noted that most successful persons have a high level of emotional intelligence.
Inclusion, Influence and Community were the components on the Tribes Trail. For Inclusion, the participants were sanctioned to implement group work and cooperative learning into the lessons. It is imperative that students learn the life skill of teamwork. In fact, the most common question asked on the job interview is: “Are you a team player?” The Inclusion activities promoted teamwork and could be incorporated with the written curriculum. Some of these were I Like My Neighbour, One Ball Pass, What’s in my wallet?, Bubble letters and the ever popular Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Through these activities, the participants experienced the benefits of cooperation. These benefits could be transferred to the students’ emotional intelligence for they boost academic achievement, constructive thinking, social competency, social support, psychological health and a positive self esteem. Also connected to emotional intelligence were reflections which strengthened content, behavioural and personal growth. Through the examination of emotional intelligence the participants encountered Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardiner. This reiterated the blanket statement that “learning is a process of making connections to previous experiences and interests”.
On approaching the end of the session the participants were inspired to examine the ways how the development of emotional intelligence can work for the students, the parents and the faculty. All in all, the assessment of emotional intelligence centred on self-perception, self expression, interpersonal, decision making and stress tolerance. All of these life skills would result in a Beginners’ Mind as our students will be viewed from a fresh stance. By believing in our students so they can believe in themselves, our future will be transformed. The past cannot be undone, however the changes in the present will have long term effects on the future. Therefore make the most of today. Today for me was thought-provoking, validating, refreshing and inspiring as through bonding with like minded educators we filled our professional skills bucket so we can take on the role of education one student, teacher, parent, administrator and investor at a time.