Here are some worthy comments, from the students who recently completed the Tribes online course (



As I learn more about Tribes Learning Experiences with my staff, I am discovering that Appreciations and Reflection Questions are two of the most important components of the process.

Each aspect of the agreements works towards social awareness.  When the agreements are used the students are building skills that will help them in the future.  When the agreements are used there is lots of self-esteem, sense of community (caring environment), and inclusion (belonging).  The students feel like their ?plate? is being filled.  When these things are felt students thrive in school.  There will be less behavior problems because students are trying to help each other figure things out.  There will also be growth in school attendance, when things seem safe and have a caring environment.  ?When those things are felt, learning is never ending?.

The tragic  shooting which occurred in Newton, CT last month sparked a debate over whether there should be armed guards in schools, or if teachers themselves should carry guns. However missed in this idea is that arming teachers and other staff will only further schools from being environments of care and trust. It will lead to a dominating and threatening environment which will further distance the students who feel “uncared for”.

There is no better time to infuse the Tribes Process of a caring culture and SEL’s relationship skills in the classroom of today. Student’s need to be shown that their individual thoughts and ideas are as important as the next, and even as that of the teacher’s. It is imperative to value each student as an individual and to provide him/her with a sense of purpose.

I continually remind my students, predominantly from Asian countries, that we are involved in the learning process together. While there are expectations that need to be met, the students learn from the first day that their ideas are as good as mine, and often superior – students get a real kick out of the phrase “a democratic classroom”. I never want to be in a position of dominance where the learner fears my presence.

The point is, if we have learned anything from the recent tragedy, we should have learned that students are in need of greater care and attention as individuals. That they need to be further connected to their school as a community and within a community.