Daily Schedule

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tribes in Action

It has been a while since I've done a Tribes update. We had a few bumps along the road, and it took me longer than usual to figure out how best to group the children. Now, however, the groups have been formed, they've worked out what their tribe name should be (that took a lot of creativity, patience, and compromise), and decorated their tribe banner.

We have three tribe families - The Rainbow Mutant Giant Goats Who Like Dragons, The Mega-Dark Fire Flaming Rhinos, and The Awesome Pacific Colored Light Sabers (I told you they had to use creativity). These children work within their tribe to successfully accomplish the challenges I set for them. They may argue, sure, but do so fairly - no name calling or put-downs, attentive and appreciative listening, and with a will to compromise. Our political candidates should take a page out of our books!

This morning, our challenge was Tribe Portrait. Each tribe member was told to draw a member of their tribe. Each tribe member needed to ask another member to do a sketch of him or her. Artists drew their subjects using pencils, and then had to check with the subjects for additions or corrections. After corrections and additions were made, the artists used color on the portraits. Finally, when the portraits of all the tribe members were finished, the tribe had to decide how to present their portraits to the rest of the class.

Objectives of this challenge were:

* to develop self awareness
* to develop awareness of spatial relationships
* to develop cooperation skills
* to practice observation skills
* to build inclusion and influence

Before we began, we talked about possible put-downs that could occur and how to avoid them. That was crucial, as both the artist and the subject have a lot at stake. I asked for examples, and one child said, "Well, if the artist wanted to tease or to be mean, he could draw his subject in an ugly way." We talked about that, as well as other possibilities.

Then they got busy. Tribes gathered their materials, found a good spot to work, and figured who was going to draw whom.

There is something special that happens when you have to look carefully at another person's face. It is a moment of tremendous intimacy and trust.

One of the most important "teachable moments" came at the end, when the work was being shared. Several children were nervous - that their work would be put-down or laughed at. It was tricky, because I noticed that many of the students made their portraits intentionally funny (adding jaunty mustaches, for instance, with the approval of their partner). We had to "read" the face of the presenter - was she sincere and serious, or laughing? We had to match their mood, either by laughing along with them, or simply nodding and giving appreciative feedback.

This was a lovely opportunity for us to express our appreciation for each other.

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