Personal Development: Classroom Community and Character Development - The Tribes Program - (Kate R, Ayanda, Jeff M, Natalie, Laura B, Jamie T)
The education system today is evolving beyond traditional teaching methods. Presently, educators are becoming more aware of the significant role that schooling plays in the personal and social development of students. The atmosphere of a classroom has the ability to contribute to or detract from a student’s development and opportunity to learn. Successful students will emerge from positive learning environments that promote community development, cooperative learning, and character education. The Tribes program focuses on implementing these characteristics into every school in order to ensure that all students succeed.
The Tribes program is a process of establishing a positive culture of learning and human development throughout an entire school community. Tribes began in the early nineteen seventies in response to the concern that educators and parents were having over low test scores and a rise of school behavioural problems. Jeanne Gibbs, the former Executive Director of the Centre for Human Development and co-creator of the Tribes process, piloted a group development process that would fundamentally change the atmosphere of schools. Gibbs believed in the good of all students and argued that it was the systems that surrounded the students that impacted their lives and needed to be the focus of change (Gibbs, 1995, p.399). The pilot program was a success and led to the creation of Tribes. The overall goal of Tribes is, “to engage all teachers, administrators, students, and families in working together as a learning community that is dedicated to caring and support, active participation and positive expectations for all students (Gibbs, 1995, p.22).” Tribes is an effective and practical program that all teachers have the ability to implement in their classrooms. The program is appropriate for all levels of the school system and can be successfully implemented in the music, drama, and arts classroom. Tribes ensures that all student receive a complete personal and social education.
The Tribes program involves the creation of long-term learning groups in the classroom. However, before the class is ready to build their tribes, it is important that the whole class is an inclusive environment. The first several weeks of a school term should be used to build community in the classroom and to establish a positive social climate. Students should engage in activities where they are able to get to know each other, learn the important norms in the classroom, and become comfortable in the environment. The teacher should encourage participation and help students become comfortable with group sharing. The teacher must also demonstrate what their role is in the classroom. In the Tribes model the teacher is there to guide the students in their learning process. The role of the teacher is to present the subject to students, challenge them to work cooperatively through the information, and be there to give support and answer questions (Gibbs, 1987, p.36). The teacher must therefore establish effective communication with the students. This is a necessary component to the development of a positive teacher student relationship (Woolfolk, p.427). This period of community building is essential to the success of the Tribes model.
Throughout the community building period it is important to develop guidelines for what students need to do in order to feel they are in a trusting group. The Tribes program has created four basic tribal norms for all classrooms to abide by. The first norm is Attentive Listening. Students should learn how to pay close attention to the words and feelings of their classmates. Respect and care should always be a part of attentive listening. The second norm is No Put-Downs/Appreciation (Gibbs, 1987, p.21). The Tribes program believes in the importance of nurturing students’ self-esteem, and the discouragement of negative remarks is a key component to the increase of self-esteem (Woolfolk, p.71). Encouraging students to value each other and state the appreciation of other’s unique qualities is another important part of helping students to feel self-confident. The Right to Pass is the third tribal norm. This norm means that students have the right to determine to what extent they will participate in group activities. This norm helps to develop a safe space in the classroom because students are aware that they have a right to privacy. Students also see that they are able to take responsibility over their own well-being and through this process students will develop the courage to become more open with their peers. The last tribal norm is Confidentiality. Students are assured that all sharing that is done within the classroom is honoured and will not be revealed. It does not mean that students cannot share what they did in class, but rather that gossiping is forbidden (Gibbs, 1987, p.40-41). Each of these tribal norms has equal value in the classroom and should be observed at all times. Teachers should encourage the class to help each other stay true to the norms so that the students are also responsible for the creation of a whole class community.
Once the teacher feels that the class has created a positive and inclusive environment the students are ready to create their long-term learning groups. In order for the groups to be successful the teacher must balance the members sociometrically. The teacher must assign an age appropriate number to each tribe. For elementary and middle school students there should be groups of four and five. For high school and adult classes groups of five and six are appropriate. The number of male and female students in each learning group should also be balanced. Leaders in the class should be distributed among all the tribes. Students who are of high and low peer acceptance should also be distributed evenly among the tribes. Once the composition of the tribes has been determined the teacher should create an exciting activity for students to find their tribe (Gibbs, 1987, p.51). The process of building tribal cohesion should then begin. Each group should go through the process of inclusion, influence, and affection. These stages involve the students building trust within the group, creating an atmosphere of support and care, and discovering their value within the group. This process ensures that groups become unified and will be able to act as a true cooperative learning group (Gibbs, 1987, p.24).
The purpose of the tribes is to not only create social connections among students, but to allow students to engage in cooperative learning. Cooperative learning allows students to work together to maximize each other’s learning. In a tribe, students share personal concerns and feelings with each other, as well as plan, problem-solve, discuss, and complete work from the curriculum. Cooperative learning is beneficial for students because it has positive effects on their personal and social development, as well as their learning process. For example, studies have found that cooperative groups can help increase students’ empathy, tolerance, and friendships (Solomon et all., Woolfolk, p.333) In addition, it has been discovered that cooperative work can help students with their information processing. Through discussions students are better able to organize and expand their knowledge, make connections and review material. Cooperative work also encourages students to think critically and problem-solve in a group situation (Woolfolk, p.333). In order for cooperative learning to be successful the groups need to maintain an atmosphere of positive support for all members. Groups must also assume responsibility for themselves and their achievement of goals. The teacher should never participate directly in the group, but should always maintain control and intervene if the social cohesion of a group breaks down. The Tribes program is an effective way to create an environment for successful cooperative learning. The tribes become support systems for the students and create a positive space for learning (Gibbs, 1995, 49).
The overall mission for Tribes is, “to assure the healthy and whole development of every child so that each has the knowledge, skills, and resiliency to be successful in a rapidly changing world (Gibbs, 1995, p.22).” Essentially, the mission of tribes is to help students with their character development so that they can make a positive influence in society. Throughout the entire process of tribes character development is a main component. Character education is embedded in the Tribes program without it being lessons based on specific values. The process of working in groups, for example, encourages helpful behaviour in students, it promotes inclusion and the celebration of diversity. Students are encouraged to express their views as well as respect different points of view. In groups, students also learn to establish trust among members, and through group work they become kind and caring individuals. In addition to social values students also develop their self-actualization. Students are encouraged to build their personal identification, and their skills, talents, and gifts are identified and valued by the whole class. Students are also encouraged to develop self-respect and resiliency so that they can be socially responsible both in the classroom and in society (Gibbs, 1987, p.69-70). Overall, the Tribes program is a beneficial process for students to participate in because it helps students to better develop their whole selves.
From Theory to PracticeEdit
The Tribes program has numerous connections to a number of the concepts outlined and discussed in the textbook.
The Tribes program fosters both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in several ways. Tribes places emphasis on the acquisition of knowledge and skills that will serve students throughout their lives. For this reason, the Tribes program is applicable and valuable to students – in and out of school – and many may be intrinsically motivated to participate and develop as individuals. The group dynamic around which Tribes is centered also contributes to students’ extrinsic motivation in a number of capacities. For one thing, students’ may experience an increased desire to participate in activities that are community, or group, based. Students often appreciate the opportunity for increased interaction and collaboration among peers. Tribes requires participants to provide each other with positive feedback and reinforcing statements of support which can be a powerful motivating factor. Additionally, students may mimic the positive behaviour of others in their Tribes group(s). Tribes has the potential to help students develop as more self-regulating and responsible individuals. Because students are extremely involved in the learning process, they have great control over their own learning and actions in general.
Tribes can have a powerful impact on students’ positive perception of themselves. The appreciation statements students are required to make about one another may help individuals to recognize their particular strengths and talents. Tribes also offers students the opportunity to work in groups and be independent with regard to their own learning and behaviour, all of which may lead to increased self confidence in their abilities, as well as increased self-worth. The four sources of self-efficacy (listed below) outlined in the textbook relate closely to this aspect of student development. 1. Mastery experiences 2. Level of arousal 3. Vicarious experiences 4. Social persuasion When a student’s self-efficacy is healthy and well developed, he/she will put forward greater effort. Additionally, increased self-efficacy also effects the student’s ability to set goals for him/herself and directly connects to his/her motivation with regard to a particular task or tasks. This co-operative goal structure can support and enhance students’ motivation within a community-based setting.
Potential problem: While the group dynamic supports both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, it may also affect some students in a negative way. Students may feel increased pressure or anxiety to contribute to the group, while others may refrain from participating at all for fear of humiliation.
Behavioural Views of Learning
The positive/affirming statements involved in the Tribes program act as reinforcers – they strengthen or maintain the students’ positive behaviour and/or response(s). One of the great things about Tribes is that is does not involve or condone punishers/punishment. In fact, the program goes out of its way to ensure that this negative reinforcement does not take place – for example, all participants are enabled with the ‘right to pass’ on any given activity, without negative consequences or repercussions of any kind.
Potential problem: One of the possible problems with the group/community approach is that, while all opinions are respected and all participants are expected to be positive and contributing group members, there may be individuals who are not satisfied with a particular group decision.
Classroom Management: Establishing goals
One of the ways in which Tribes positively impacts the positive environment is through increased student engagement. For reasons previously outlined, the Tribes program supports both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for students. Increased motivation will lead to increased engagement in the classroom activities and environment and thus students will have the opportunity to participate in and produce quality, meaningful experiences. Additionally, as mentioned above, Tribes helps students developed greater self-management, self-control and responsibility, all of which are extremely valuable with regard to ease of classroom management.
The 4 Agreements of Tribes communities: 1. Attentive listening 2. Appreciation/no put downs 3. Right to participate/pass 4. Mutual respect The clearly established rules and procedures of Tribes also help to establish a positive classroom environment and decrease issues related to classroom management. These four agreements, in particular, are designed to foster cooperation among students as well as self-acceptance.
Classroom Management: Prevention
Kounin identifies a number of factors that help to prevent classroom management problems: 1. Teachers must take student differences into account 2. Teachers must maintain student motivation 3. Teachers must reinforce positive behaviour. Kounin goes on to state that individuals who are skilled at preventing classroom management issues all have four areas of skill: 1. “Withitness” 2. Overlapping 3. Group focussing 4. Movement management
The connection between Kounin’s ideas and the Tribes program are highly evident and, additionally, Tribes builds on these concepts by expanding the ‘preventer’ to include students as well as teachers. Because Tribes places great importance on student-directed learning, activities and environment, the students are all actively involved in contributing to the atmosphere of the classroom and directly connected to the classroom management problems (or lack thereof).
Learning Environment: Establishing Community
Johnson and Johnson outline ‘three Cs’ of establishing a positive classroom community: 1. Cooperative community 2. Constructive conflict resolution 3. Civic values
These principles are essentially the basis for the Tribes program. Johnson and Johnson identify ‘positive independence’ as individuals working together to achieve mutual goals. This concept is a crucial part of Tribes – connecting to student self-direction, motivation as well as cooperation and affirmation. Constructive conflict resolution is another important part of Tribes – seen in students’ right to pass as well as the ban on put-downs. Additionally, Tribes supports the ‘I feel’ method of communication between students – particularly those in conflict with one another – and helps students to understand the emotion behind actions and behaviour, rather than allowing an aggressive action/behaviour to proceed with no understanding on the part of the aggressor or the recipient. Finally, because Tribes also aims to foster students’ character development, the idea of ‘civic values’ is also extremely applicable. According to Kounin, students come to understand values through direct teaching, modelling, literature, group discussions and the sharing of concerns. Again, Tribes takes this a step further by assigning these duties to, in addition to the teacher, the students themselves.
Structuring a Tribes Lesson PlanEdit
Tribes lesson plans are generally structured to include 5 distinct steps:
2. Circle Talk
3. Learning Activity
Each step addresses at least one of the “Five E’s”:
Step One: Energizer (Engage)
The purpose of the energizer is to serve as a warm-up and transition. The energizer should prepare students physically and mentally for the upcoming learning experience in a fun and engaging manner.
Step Two: Circle Talk (Engage, Explain, Explore)
The circle talk is a way for students to become more familiar with themselves – their strengths, abilities, gifts, etc. in relation to the upcoming learning experience. It is important that during the circle talk all students adhere to the four “community agreements” of the Tribes program. This includes listening attentively while others speak, showing respect for the feelings and ideas of others, avoiding put-downs and showing appreciation, and honouring each others’ right to pass.
It is up to the individual teacher to ensure that the circle talk is effective. Some suggestions include:
- Remember that this is a time for everyone to speak – not just the teacher
- Allow at least 3 second of thinking time after asking a question
- Consider your students and decide what method of taking turns will work best. Can the group handle speaking out randomly whenever they have something to contribute, or do they need more structure, such as using a ‘talking stone’?
Step Three: Learning Activity (Engage, Explain, Explore, Elaborate)
Learning activities should help students to connect the new information being presented to prior knowledge and experiences. A good way to do this is by starting the activity with personal YOU questions. Examples of YOU questions include:
- How do you feel about the subject?
- What experience do you have with this subject?
When students are responding to these questions, it is best for them to be in groups of no more than four. This allows every student a chance to speak, and is less intimidating than sharing personal thoughts and experiences with the entire class.
The learning activity should require cooperative interdependence from students, so that every student is an important and necessary part of the process. A great way to ensure cooperative interdependence is by having each member of each group take on a specific role. Examples of roles include:
- Time Keeper
- Materials Manager
NOTE: It is important that students do not take on the same role every time – all students must have practice fulfilling each role.
Step Four: Reflection (Engage, Explain, Explore, Elaborate, Evaluate)
Reflection is an important step in any learning process. Research has shown that reflection can significantly increase the amount of information and number of concepts students retain. There are three types of reflection questions:
1. Personal Learning Questions (about what the student has learned or felt)
2. Social Questions (about the interactions between group members during the learning activities, and what collaborative skills were used)
3. Thinking Questions (about the actual content of the lesson, and what skills were required to understand and work with the information and concepts)
NOTE: It is not necessary for students to always answer the reflection questions out loud. Students should be allowed the option of simply thinking about their answer, or of writing it down.
Step Five: Appreciations (Engage, Explore, Evaluate)
This step is a great way for students to develop a sense of community and trust with one another. Students can express appreciation for the efforts and accomplishments of the other members of their group, and can point out each other’s strengths and skills. This step is especially important for high school students, who greatly value the opinions of their peers. High school students often find praise or acknowledgement from a peer to be more meaningful than praise or acknowledgment from a teacher.
Sample Tribes Lesson PlanEdit
This is a sample of a lesson plan that could be used on one of the first few days of a semester to introduce the Tribes program and help students develop a trusting and collaborative atmosphere in the classroom.
Energizer: Three Ball Pass (5 – 7 min.)
This game helps students learn and remember each other’s names. It also requires them to work collaboratively as a team.
Start with the students standing in a circle. The leader will begin the game by calling out the name of a student and tossing the ball to him/her. That student will then call out another student’s name and toss the ball to him/her. This will continue until every student has been tossed the ball, with no repetitions.
The students should then repeat the same pattern of tossing, trying to increase their speed. Once they have accomplished this pattern once or twice, a second ball can be added. The second ball should be tossed in the same pattern as the first. Once a ball has reached the end of the pattern, it should start all over again, so that the two balls are constantly in motion. A third ball should then be added.
To increase the challenge of the game, any of the following strategies can be used:
- The second ball can be thrown in the reverse pattern of the first
- Each ball can be given its own pattern
- The group can time themselves and try to beat their own best speed
Circle Talk: Elements of a Positive Classroom (10 – 15 min.)
Discuss what elements help to create a positive classroom environment. Students can suggest what they would like to see/feel in the class, and things they would like to avoid. Students can share examples of situations and environments that have been positive and why, and ways they personally can contribute to a positive classroom.
Learning Activity: Brainstorming the 4 Agreements (15 – 20 min.)
Split the class into 4 groups. Each group will start at one of the four flip-charts that have been set up around the room. Each flip chart will have one of the Tribes Agreements written at the top:
1. Mutual Respect
2. Attentive Listening
3. Showing Appreciation/ No Put-downs
4. The Right to Pass
Explain to students that this is a brainstorming activity, and that there are no right or wrong answers. Explain that the idea is to write down or sketch thoughts, ideas, feelings or images that come to mind when they consider the words on the flip-chart. Remind them that they should work quickly, without commenting or discussing.
Give the groups 3-4 minutes at the first flip-chart to record their immediate reactions. Once the time is up, have them rotate around to the next flip-chart. Each group should spend 3-4 minutes at each flip-chart, rotating through until they have worked at all four stations.
Reflection: Reflecting on the 4 Agreements (5 – 10 min.)
Post the charts up where everyone can see them, and have the students sit facing them. Pose the following questions to students:
- How do you feel about each of these agreements?
- Which agreement do you personally think is most important and why?
- What would have happened differently during this activity if we had judged, commented or discussed the ideas instead of simply writing them down?
- How much did you personally participate?
- Did you learn anything new about these concepts and their importance?
Appreciations: Appreciating the Members of Your Group (5 – 10 min.)
Invite students to share statements of appreciation, or recognition for others in their group. Because this is the first time the class has done this, you can suggest that they start their statements in any of the following ways:
- I like it when …
- Thanks (name) for …
- I thought (name) did a really good job at …
Tribes in Action: The Secondary Dramatic Arts ClassroomEdit
After a basic introduction to the Tribes program it is clear that there are four agreements required to initiate the tribes program into a school or a classroom are attentive listening, appreciation/no put-downs, right top participate/pass and mutual respect. It is also clear that there are three stages of group development, beginning with inclusion, building through influence and ultimately creating a community. If Tribes is a medium through which a community can in fact be created, one must understand what a community in a drama classroom might look like.
A Community in a High School Drama Classroom
It is especially important for students in a dramatic arts classroom to feel safe since many of the techniques and issues raised, as well as the collaborative nature of drama projects require students to stretch their comfort limits and take risks. Building a community among the students is an essential part of a functional and productive drama classroom. Since drama involves taking risks, it is appropriate to look at strategies of creating communities for high risk students. In their case study, “Serving Rural Youth at Risk: A Portrait of Collaboration and Community,” Robert Rossi, Pamela Vergun and Larry Weise describe eight commitments that students must share in a community: a shared vision and shared values, a sense of purpose, an incorporation of diversity, open communication, active participation, caring and trust, teamwork, respect and recognition.* Although this case study is focused on serving rural youth at risk, all eight of the aforementioned commitments are also essential in a drama classroom. Consider the production of a play; a diverse group of students, with a diverse mix of skills and interests, share a vision of performance in which every person plays a respected and recognized role whether that be as an actor, technician, designer, musician or writer. As the show approaches, everyone must trust the individuals of the group and actively work together.
Inclusion and Influence as Community Builders
Since community building is a necessity in the dramatic arts classroom and the Tribes program describes community as the product of inclusion and influence, then a dramatic arts teacher needs practical strategies to incorporate inclusion and influence in their classroom. The Tribes program breaks these strategies into four categories: active listening, expression of appreciation, reflecting upon experience and collaborative work. Each of these categories involves an essential aspect of the dramatic art form and each can also be cultivated through a variety of exercises that can easily be incorporated into the dramatic arts classroom.
1) Active Listening
Drama inherently requires active listening for acting and improvisation. An actor can not act in a scene without listening to their partner or improvise a scenario without listening to the offers on the table. Try these games to train active listening skills:
Blind Association Circle With the entire group standing in a circle, establish a rhythm, by swinging a hand. Once a rhythm is established, one player starts by tossing a word to their neighbour, who associates on the word and tosses another word. It is important to stay in the rhythm. Tell the players to just say `banana` if they feel they cannot think of a word, as long as the rhythms does not get broken. Once the association has been to each player, continue, repeating the same pattern. As this is going on, the teacher will tap all players, gently on the shoulder, at tree different times. The first tap: players close their eyes but continue the free association, sticking to the rhythm. The second tap: everyone starts walking around (carefully!), eyes still closed. Players have to recognize the voice of their ex-neighbour in the circle to know when it is their turn. Third tap: all players, still eyes closed, and still associating, try to reconstruct the circle. Exercise is over when everyone is in a circle again. Trainer should keep an eye on players so they do not walk into anything.
The Paperclip Game Have the players form a line across the back of the playing area. One person steps forward and says what object he/she is and what their function is, such as "I'm a paperclip, and I hold loose papers together." A second person steps up and says what object he/she is, and what their similar function is, such as "I am a rubber band and I hold loose pieces of mail together." At that point a pattern is established and one-by-one everyone steps forward to heighten the pattern: • I am twine and I hold loose recyclable newspapers together. • I am shackles and I hold loose chain gang prisoners together. • I am religion and I hold loose communities together. Repeat until it is as heightened as it is going to get, then start over again with a new object and function. This game is great to encourage students to actively listen for patterns and heighten what has already been established.
Active listening is also an important skill for audience members to learn and apply. Encourage students to employ proper audience etiquette through active listening. Create checklists or questions for students to answer while viewing each other’s work.
Questions could include: • What particular gestures, lines, or moments stood out as creating a believable character? • How did the performers relate to one another and when was it clear that they were listening and responding to each other? • Did the pace or rhythm of the production seem smooth or did it drag? • How was the meaning of the text communicated through words, actions, or symbols? • What were the major desires, goals, objectives, and motivations of the characters and how did these help you understand the meaning of the text? • Were the characters realistic, symbolic, allegorical or totally divorced from reality?
2) Expression of Appreciation
Teachers can build in activities to help students express their appreciation for one another’s work after a specific exercise, at the end of each week or at the conclusion of a unit or production.
End of an Exercise: Oscar Speech Journal Ask each student to write an “Oscar Speech” thanking those who made their success in this activity possible today; who helped you and in what way? Remind students that they can also thank themselves.
End of the Week: Secret Admirers At the beginning of each week, give each student a small card with the name of another student in the class written on it. (Be sure to keep track of who has been given what names which will help you minimize repeats and deal with any inappropriate notes.) Over the course of the week everyone has to watch for one great thing they noticed their person do in class and then record it on the card. On Friday collect the cards then hand everyone their secret admirer note.
End of a Unit: High Fives Give each student a piece paper and instruct them to trace their hand on it. Then they must creatively add their name to the hand. Sitting in a circle, pass the hands around so everyone can write a thank you, complimentary or congratulatory message on each persons hand: a high five.
3) Reflecting upon Experience
Here are a couple of ways to facilitate personal reflection within a group. Either can be done after any significant shared experience such as a production, unit, trip, or exercise.
Spider Webs Have the entire class sit in a circle and give one person a ball of yarn. That person will reflect upon the present experience: something that worked well, something they learned or really enjoyed, something that was memorable, etc. Once they have finished they will wrap the yarn around their wrist a couple of times and then through it across the circle to another person. That person will do the same thing. Once the yarn has been to everyone once or twice, a web will have been created in the middle of the circle. Open a discussion about the nature of a web and how that relates to our shared experiences here in the drama room.
The Good, The Great and The Goal Tableaux Divide the class into groups of 3 or 4. Each group will decide upon a good part and a great part of the present experience. The group will also think about what their goal or goals might be in relation to the present experience. Once all three things have been clearly decided upon, the group will create a tableau to illustrate each. The groups will present all three and the class will describe what they saw, opening a group discussion after each presentation.
4) Collaborative Work
The majority of all work in the dramatic arts classroom is collaborative. The curriculum itself is working to build community through inclusion and influence, however, an easy way to introduce the idea of collaborative work is through cooperative games. These types of activities are great for early in the semester and require students to work in order to solve a problem or succeed as a group.
Shrinking Island Divide the class into groups of 6-10 students and give each group a blanket. Ask the students to stand on their blanket and then explain that this blanket is a shrinking island. The students must get off their island and make it shrink (fold it in half) now the students must al get back on. Continue shrinking the islands to see which group can work together to stand for five seconds on the smallest island.
Magic Carpet Divide the class into groups of 6-10 students and give each group a blanket. Ask the students to stand on their blanket and then explain that this blanket is a magic carpet. Describe flying through the air and get them to act out their adventure. Now the carpet loses control and is about to crash. The landing instructions are on the bottom of the carpet, so each group must work together to flip the carpet, while it is in mid air, in order to see the instructions. No one can fall off!
Elements of Tribes that Relate to Visual ArtsEdit
There has been an educational movement where teachers and administrators alike where they have become very interested in a program named Tribes. In this part of the paper, two concepts are going to be explained. For the first part the ideas and process of Tribes in relationship to Visual Arts will be explain. Through this explanation, an evaluation and critical ideas are presented in order to figure out away in order to incorporate Tribes in a Visual Arts classroom in a high school setting.
Tribes is a program which was first developed for elementary school but has recently been modified to be able to be incorporated into high schools. It is a step-by-step program which is designed to achieve precise learning goals. In order to achieve these learning goals, there are four agreements which need to be introduced by the teachers and honoured by the students within the whole school. Tribes in Visual Arts, is a process of establishing a positive culture of learning and human development not just within individual classrooms but in an entire school based community. For the program, Tribes wants to assure the healthy and whole development of every child so when they go out into the work force they are able to be knowledgeable, skillful, and determined to be successful.
There four agreements which can be easily incorporated into Visual Arts which are key to Tribes. These four agreements are (1) attentive listening, (2) appreciation/no put downs, (3) mutual respect, and (4) the right to pass. In order to achieve all these elements within the Tribes program students need to learn a variety of skill which will help them to be able to collaborate and work will in long-term groups. These skills include: helping each other to achieve tasks together, set goals and solve problems, monitor and assess progress and celebrating achievements.
When introducing Tribes to your Visual Art classroom, there are a number of things the teacher needs to do in order to make the program successful. The first thing the teacher needs to do is introduce Tribes and explain it to the students in student friendly language. The second thing the teacher needs to do is divide the class into groups which are balanced in terms of student strengths verses student's weaknesses. Thirdly, the teacher needs to establish tools and techniques to help build group inclusion within the individual groups and as a class as a whole. Once the students are in their groups and they have ideas about inclusion the teacher now can start transferring their power over to the students.
In order to implement Tribes into a Visual Art class there needs to be a structure established based off of three things. The first thing is cooperative learning, the second being character education and last of all, community development. Students become members of long-term learning groups. In terms of cooperative learning students would be divided into groups. For junior grades the groups would consist of 4 to 5 members and in high school the groups would consist of 5 to 6 members. For character development students incorporate their values into the everyday life in the classroom and they also learn essential collaborative skills. Last of all, for community development students need to feel like they are part of a caring and safe classroom environment.
As mentioned above, for Tribes to work to the fullest extent, it has to be implemented in all classrooms. This part of the paper will examine one possible way in order to implement it into a visual art classroom through a mural project.
Visual Arts Mural Project and TribesEdit
In visual arts students develop many skills which can be directly linked to the ideas of Tribes. Visual arts, developed respect for other opinions and feelings without being judgmental, promote cooperative learning where students develop problem solving skills, create a caring and trustworthy environment where students feel they can express themselves freely and last of all, the appreciation of cultural values. All these elements that are developed in a visual art classroom help students socially develop so they will be able to be active citizens within a community. It also helps student to be able to cooperate and work well together in large group in order to successfully create a class mural.
When starting a class mural project in a visual art classroom, a community must be build just like in Tribes classroom community must be created. When building a community, make sure students understand that the activity is a group activity and they will have to work with everybody in the class. This might be a hard thing to do in a visual art classroom because for many visual art project students work alone reflecting and thinking about their art. Many students might be reluctant to have to work and create art with their fellow classmates when they are generally used to working alone on their art. Students need to understand that many project that artist work on in today's world are done collaboratively. To prove this point you might want to show students examples of work done by a group of artist. Overall, students need to understand that large scale murals are done by groups of people.
Once the students understand that they will have to work in group to create the class mural, the teacher can start and activity where the class brainstorms possible ideas for the mural. It is really important to be inclusive and make sure all the students understand that every body's ideas are important. This concept in Tribes is also important. One issue that might develop with the students is decided on one idea when you might have several. One way to solve this issue is to create lists where students would vote of the ideas presented.
Keeping with the ideas of Tribes students need to influence the look of the mural. In order to do this the teacher can create design projects to give students the power to influence to look and ideas behind the mural. What students can do is create their own drawings on how they wish the mural to look. Once the drawings are finished, have all the drawings posted around the class and develop a classroom discussion on which images they want to use for the mural. Remember when having such a discussion it is important that students are nice and not mean and degrading towards their classmate's image. To avoid negativity you might want to create an answer sheet for the murals so when the student talks they are using their sheets as a reminder of what they want to say. Once decided on the design of the mural divide the mural up so every student gets an equal amount of the mural to create as their own.
There are many things that teachers need to keep in mind when creating Tribes in their classroom particularly in terms of a large scale mural project. Teachers have to make sure their instructions are clear and that every student in their class understands them. Secondly, in order to make the project run smoothly teachers need to create a time schedule and emphasise how important it is to following it. Overall, when creating such a large collaborative piece or any visual arts project it is really important for the teacher to keep the students engaged. Also, when creating a mural or class project of this scale it’s a great opportunity for teachers to get the parents involved in a school art exhibition.
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