As my returning families know, I use the Tribes Curriculum as a major team-building/cooperation tool in the classroom.
If you don't know what the Tribes curriculum is, there are plenty of on-line articles about it. In a nutshell, it is a way for children (and adults) to practice inclusion and active listening. It is a democratic group process, and is devised to promote human growth and learning.
There are four community agreements that are the cornerstone of Tribes. We practice:
* Attentive listening
* Appreciation/no put downs
* The right to pass and the right to participate
* Mutual respect
This is easy for some children - working together peacefully, taking turns, and reaching compromises, seem to come as easily as breathing. Other children find it very, very difficult to not have things always their preferred way. Tribes is valuable for everyone. Throughout the rest of the year, we will do individual and group work that allows practice of inclusion and collaboration.
The first thing I need to do as a facilitator is to group children into their "tribes". This year, it seemed to make the most sense to divide into 3 different groups, with 4 children in two of the tribes, and 5 children in one of them. Last week, each child got to privately hand me a note that listed their 5 top choices. I used these notes as a way to ensure that everyone got at least one or two friends in their group. Then I made sure that there was a good mix of leaders/followers and first/second graders in each group.
Friday was the big day - where children discovered their "family" or tribe members. I made 3 different jigsaw puzzles with names of children in each piece. Then children tried to fit their pieces together, and when they all fit, they knew they had their group! There was joyful cheering all around. By the end of the week, these tribes will find a name that everyone can agree on, and work cooperatively to make a banner to display. I will post pictures of these as they become available.