Forming Tribes in Education

Good advice…is priceless. Not what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. Not imaginary, but practical. Not based on fear, but on possibility. Not designed to make you feel better, designed to make you better. Seek it out and embrace the true friends that care enough to risk sharing it. I’m not sure what takes more guts—giving it or getting it. Seth Godin

Many tribes gain in power and connection by finding their opposite, by identifying the choices that members won’t make. Seth Godin


I have chosen to start off with two quotes from Seth Godin. After a second day of professional development with Expeditionary Learning with 25 staff members in my middle school, my brain is oozing from two days of hard thinking.

Today was a tough day. I saw teachers brains hit that point where we just hit that wall. I mean this in a good way. Today a light bulb went off for me. It reminded me that no matter our age, our expertise, our comfort levels, there is an ESSENTIAL component to give ourselves these challenges and opportunities to recalibrate our settings.

I love our staff. We are strong. We are dedicated. We care about the well being of education and learning for students. Today we had to really sit in the student frame of mind as we worked through how we teach our classroom. We broke down learning targets, we tried to find ways to build in new ways for student engaged assessments, and how to really do the prep work before teaching. It was hard. Some moved from growth to fixed mindset. Some were brought to tears. Some were angry. There was an ebb and flow from all ranges of emotions and thoughts.

It was powerful.

At the end we circled and gave thanks. It was powerful. We took time to share and celebrate the good of the day. As an educator I know we don’t do enough of this in our day to day routine. We get caught up in venting, expressing concern, talking about why things don’t work. Today we did the opposite. We gave thanks. We showed appreciation. It felt good. It felt right.

Afterwards during the discussion of the day I could not help but think of Seth Godin and his book Tribes. Today I feel like our group of educators formed a tribe. We see some real value in what we were creating and working on. We were on the same page. I feel like we were all connected.

Three things come to mind

1. Did others feel this way?

2. If so, then how to do we keep the tribe vibe going?

3. How do we move this tribe to include everyone?

That is the goal. We need to take these ideas and move from not just our classrooms but a school cultural shift of new norms. Often times I think we are all striving for the same thing, but we don’t always see ourselves on the same page.

Despite having a numb brain, I am so excited to find answers to

1. What are our next steps?

2. How do we shift a public middle school culture to develop buy in with not only students, but staff?

That is where I am at. I feel good about things. It is exciting to see amazing educators trying to become even better.

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