In the past I have always structured a part of my class time around TRIBES. A community building and cooperative learning program. This year because of other obligations I did not start my year with it because I did not feel like I had the extra time. That was a mistake that I plan to rectify.
Over the past weeks there has been an increase in small altercations, a disconnect in how to handle conflict in a way that deescalates the problem. I don’t believe kids are naturally malicious. Mean is a learned behaviour but I think it becomes much harder to be mean when you view everyone as part of the community. TRIBES aims to help with that.
TRIBES is framed around 4 agreements that really everyone should adopt.
1.Attentive Listening– So often when having a disagreement or discussion when the other person is speaking we are already thinking of our response. We don’t listen to the person fully and many times misunderstandings come from the small fact that we didn’t listen.
2.Mutual Respect– The GOLDEN RULE. So frequently taught and just as quickly forgotten when frustrated or feeling wronged. You can not solve your differences with others by treating them poorly by devaluing them.
3. Appreciations, No putdowns– I mention this lots but we need to focus on the positives not the negatives. Getting cut or breaking a bone takes moments but it takes a long time to heal. This is the same for mean words and put downs. We remember them much longer than the moments it took for someone to say them. Positives stay with us a lot longer as well.
4. Right to Pass– There has to be a safety built in when asking people to share and make themselves vulnerable. Permission to say, “I am not ready to share yet” ensures that when they are ready it is because they are comfortable and not because they are forced.
In a world that is becoming more and more divisive we should all respect one another as people. Sure people we disagree with at times but not to the point that we devalue them. Once we see others as less than we make it “Us vs Them” I do not want a class room that operates that way and I do not want students leaving my room at the end of the year thinking that some people have more worth than others. Next week we start with some games and discussion.