Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Trusting the Process: Tribes Training Reflection (Day 1)

(Photo by KB)

Today was an incredibly full day of learning and growing for me as a teacher.  As I reflect upon all the information I consumed today, I must admit that one word comes to my mind. Trust.  I engaged in Tribes training, which is a character education and culture development program my school is adopting. I also attended David Culberhouse's webinar focusing on the four pillars of leadership.  To end my night, I engaged in the Seth Godin TED talk, "The Tribes We Lead."  This talk really brought together my two earlier experiences from the day!

The Tribes character program is unique in so many ways.  Our school completed a rigorous meta-analysis of many different character programs before deciding on Tribes.  One of the important factors in our decision was that the program was tailored to the different needs of middle school students and elementary students.  Tribes realizes that middle schoolers need a different approach and their teachers need different training.  Anyone that has taught middle school, has middle school children, or sat next to a middle schooler at the movies one time, knows this to be true.

Additionally, Tribes focuses on the exact topics addressed in Godin's talk, connecting people to lead a movement.   Our school focuses on educating the whole child and needed a program that offered more than scripted lessons or a curriculum; we needed a way to lead and build relationships.  Tribes is a way of teaching and building culture through relationships and developmentally appropriate learning, which made it a better fit than most other programs we researched.

The training was really enlightening and a very powerful experience for me as a middle school teacher. While we learned and practiced a number of "energizers" to build community, the afternoon was focused on diving deeply into the developmental factors of adolescents.  The social, moral, physical, intellectual, and emotional needs of our students were explored.  Our group also discussed the competencies we need to build and the processes for creating a culture of purpose, autonomy, and problem solving (sound familiar Dan Pink fans?). When dealing with this age group, we don't often examine these factors in much detail, so I found this to be a complete change in the way I view our students' needs and addressing their behaviors. Our students need us to understand their developmental needs in order to help them both mature and learn.  Additionally, this reaches far beyond the classroom and into their lives at home and in the community.

Later, while listening to David Culberhouse discussion the pillars of leadership, he talked about his concept of the Family Footprint.  He stated that we often look at organizations as a small part of who we are, but in reality the organization doesn't stop when we leave.  That organization travels with us. This is the Family Footprint. The culture we create is based around individual encounters. We leave imprints that echo past each interaction. Our imprint ripples. Our organizational culture follows people into their homes and families, and therefore we must reflect upon what we are offering the people around us when we lead them.

I couldn't help but relate this to my students and today's training.  Our school is so special in the fact that understand the Family Footprint and how we impact our students both at school and beyond.  We are now working to lead them in a culture that recognizes, celebrates, and fosters their needs in all developmental areas. What an amazing opportunity for us as a school!

This brings to Seth Godin, as he states that leaders must challenge the status quo, build a culture and connect people to one another. He brings up an important point that leaders don't need everyone to follow them. Even though our school's culture is everyone's responsibility, as we don't need everyone in our school to love the Tribes movement we are creating.  We just need enough people to connect and believe in the movement.  I walked out of our training today truly believing in our team to challenge ourselves and move out of what is "usual" in our practice because we believe the connections we make with our students and our culture is more important than us being comfortable.

Tomorrow, we build our tribes within our staff.  I am not sure what this will entail or look like, but I am extremely excited to connect with my colleagues in this way.  I will remember that tribes are formed when a group that is disconnected but already have a yearning for something bigger and better. This is how a movement is formed.  Leaders organize and connect people. 

Tomorrow, I will trust the process, connect, and lead.

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