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What is Tribes?

Tribes is a process that fosters the development of collaborative and academic skills by creating a caring environment and delivering curriculum content in an active and student centred manner.

The purpose of the Tribes process is to assure the healthy development of every child so that each one has the knowledge, skills and resiliency to be successful in a rapidly changing world.

Tribes is a process that was developed first in the 1970�s by Jeanne Gibbs. Over the years, there have been several editions of her original book, with the latest edition Reaching All by Creating Tribes Learning Communities, published in the summer of 2007 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Tribes process.

In her books, Jeanne Gibbs carefully describes the stages of evolution a group progresses through as individuals come together to learn and work collaboratively. Ms Gibbs gives teachers a clear and practical description of how to facilitate the group process.

Key elements of the Tribes process are:
  • The four agreements: Attentive Listening, the Right to Participate, Mutual Respect, and Appreciation
  • The three stages of the collaborative process: Inclusion, Influence and Community
  • The Twelve Collaborative Skills
The Tribes process includes numerous teaching strategies that are clearly explained. These strategies help teachers to build group inclusion and deliver rigorous curriculum in all areas. The Tribes process fosters student achievement because:
  • Everyone feels included and appreciated
  • Everyone is respected for their differences, whether in ability, culture, gender, interest, learning style or experience
  • The variety of experiences matches the way the brain and body work together as well as the learning gifts each participants brings
  • There are high positive expectations for participation and achievement
*Evaluation of Tribes Learning Communities

Evaluation of Tribes Learning Community Schools has examined the impact of the Tribes process on student behavior, academic performance, school culture, and teacher collegiality. Studies have shown that:
  • Tribes TLC has a positive impact on classroom environment
  • Teachers report spending less time managing student behavior
  • Students are significantly less likely to be referred for disciplinary problems
  • The Tribes process helps teachers address performance and content standards
  • Students in well-implemented classrooms score significantly higher on standardized tests than students from comparison groups.
  • Teachers report increased staff collegiality and planning.

The Tribes process is used in many parts of the world to enhance learning and social development. School personnel and parents celebrate the positive effects of the Tribes process. Creating a positive school and classroom environment is the most effective way to enhance behaviour, learning and self concept.

Intended Audience The intended audiences for the Tribes trainings are teachers at any point in their careers, teacher candidates, occasional teachers, other school personnel (administrative staff, instructional assistants, school trustees, social workers, child and youth workers), before and after school program teachers or anyone who works with children. The training speaks to anyone interested in building strong collaborative learning communities.

For teacher candidates, having Tribes training is an asset because it quickly helps teachers to develop positive discipline strategies and design active student experiences. Having Tribes training on a resume is highly valued.

For teachers, Tribes training will extend and support classroom practices as teachers expand their professional qualifications and skills.

For Before and After School program providers. Tribes training will provide a structure for establishing a positive environment, a framework for interactions and many ideas for engaging activities.

For Parents, Tribes training creates a great bridge between home and school, and it supports positive parenting practices. Tribes training also establishes common collaborative language for parents/students/teachers.

For administrators, Tribes training provides a powerful model for creating a school climate that is based on caring, learning and positive conflict resolution practices.

For Trustees, Tribes training allows for creating a vision of the positive possibilities of Tribes in an educational system that supports social development and academic achievement. The Tribes Agreements establish the collaborative norms to enhance effective and efficient meetings.

Whole Staff or Individual Attendance???

One teacher in a school excited about Tribes and implementing the process in his or her classroom is a wonderful thing. Tribes in that setting will work just fine and it is predicted that soon the enthusiasm about the positive things that are happening will be contagious and other staff members will want to have that much success also. There are great benefits when one interested and committed person takes the Tribes training.

Whole staff involvement in a training is a powerful agent of change. The training process initiates common values and beliefs for all staff regarding what is important about student and staff learning. Having the opportunity to be trained together is an amazing way to build a whole school collaborative and professional learning community and affect change.

1. Basic Training: Jeanne Gibbs developed this training to support her book Reaching All By Creating Tribes Learning Communities. This is a comprehensive training that enables educators from junior kindergarten to adult establish a Tribes learning Community in their settings.

The Basic training has 8 three hour modules:
Module One: Finding Our Way to the Future
Module Two: Learning About Learning
Module Three: Creating the Learning Community
Module Four: Building Tribes
Module Five: Learning Through Collaboration
Module Six: Reaching All
Module Seven: Designing Learning Experiences
Modules Eight: Bringing it All Together

2. Middle School Training: Jeanne Gibbs developed this training to specifically match her book Discovering Gifts in Middle School. This training focuses on the needs and tasks of adolescent students and enables educators to establish and support the Tribes Learning Process in the intermediate grades.

The Intermediate Training has 8 three hour modules:
Module One: Why Change is Critical
Module Two: The Search for Selfhood
Module Three: Creating the Ideal Learning Cultrue and Structuring the Learning Community
Modules Four: Successful Practices for Small Group Learning
Module Five: Gaining a Sense of Value in the Stage of Influence
Module Six: Moving to Responsive Educational Facilitators
Module Seven: Designing cooperative and Discovery Learning
Module Eight: Discovering Gifts in the Responsive Middle School

  • Lots of opportunities to reflect on your values and beliefs about creating positive learning communities, so bring your ideas and hopes for the future.
  • Several occasions to move around and learn together, so bring comfortable clothing and shoes so that you will be comfortable in a variety of group formations.
  • Loads of fun, so be ready to laugh.
  • Numerous opportunities to talk and work with people who you know or have never met, so bring your enthusiasm.
  • A variety of learning opportunities, so bring water to keep your body hydrated and your mind ready to learn.
  • Stamina to train for 3 or 4 days (depending on the model of the way the 24 hours are divided either between 3 or 4 days). To receive the certificate of completion, all of the 24 hours needs to be attended.
  • Introduction to Tribes: a one hour session that will introduce the Tribes process and explain what is involved in the training. This is an information session that will inform staff and help them decide about their participation in the training.

  • Parent Information Session: a one hour session for parents that will inform them about the Tribes process and why they have heard so much about it. This session will give an overview of what Tribes is and how it is being used in classrooms to support academic achievement and to enhance social skills. Connections to home activities that support the Tribes process can be made. Parents can be shown how the 4 agreements of: attentive listening, participations, appreciation and mutual respect, can enrich family dynamics. A �take home� project of a Family Dinner Community Circle starter, an Appreciation Can, and a model for helping to make difficult decisions, Let�s Talk, can be given out.

    This session can be designed to match the specific needs of schools.

  • School Council Session: an hour or shorter session that would introduce the concept of creating a school wide Tribe community to a School Council. The session would outline what Tribes is and the benefits that come from creating this School Learning Community.

    This session can be designed to mach the specific needs of the school.

  • Sustaining the Tribes Process: a refresher session that comes after the initial training to support staff as they implement the process over the school year in their classroom. The training for sustaining can be delivered in three 2 hours sessions spaced out over the school year to support teachers as the classroom and school populations travels the Tribes trail over time. The first session could be just before the school year begins, the second in early December, and the third in March. This model would help teachers to know what to expect at different times of the year and how to modify practices to match the new needs of their ever evolving group. New strategies and energizers will be introduced.

  • One Day Introduction to Tribes: Objectives:
    • To identify Tribes as a process
    • To highlight the four agreements
    • To identify the stages of the tribes trail
    • To highlight many strategies that teacher can use daily to deliver curriculum
    The one day introductory session is an overview of the Tribes process. We will indicate that research supports Tribes as a process that enhances academic achievement as well as addresses social concerns like misbehaviour, poor self esteem, bullying and teacher fatigue. In Ontario, the time is right for Tribes because it matches well the ministry initiatives for: learning communities in literacy, mathematics and science; goal setting in Choices into Action; Daily Physical Activity; and Character Education and Anti-Bullying and Differentiation. We will define Tribes as a process that supports academic and social growth in people of all ages by establishing a caring community where collaborative skills are carefully and explicitedly taught as rich teacher planned learning experiences use Tribes strategies to deliver curriculum content.

    In the one day session we will identify the four tribes agreements: Attentive listening, Participation, Mutual Respect and Appreciation/No Put Downs, as important Tribes� foundations. These agreements define how a group will interact together and become a most effective teacher management tool. We will address the systematic stages of the Tribes trail and how important knowledge of these stages is so that we can plan for and support individuals as trust and support develop within the group. These stages help educators to identify what they should do to support that growth as they design cooperative learning tasks. We will introduce many fun and active tribes strategies and energizers to the group. These teaching strategies will be ones that teachers can take back to their planning and use with ease to support learning. The Tribes strategies will address differentiation by highlighting: multiple intelligences; a solid body brain connection; and explicit teaching of collaborative skills.

    The one day session is designed with the Tribes philosophy and structure in mind. The experience will be fun, active, informative and full of learning. The session will build on teachers� present and extensive knowledge and experiences and extend their classroom practices by encouraging them to apply some of the new learning to their settings. The session will help teachers to have the knowledge, skills and confidence to begin their own journey on the Tribes trail.
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