Friday, July 8, 2016


Another idea that I have loved about the book "The Element" by Sir Ken Robinson is the chapter on tribes. Every time I listen to the book I am extremely excited to be part of a great tribe at my school. We call our tribe "Down the Rabbit Hole." It is a name that took awhile to come up with, but really summarizes a lot of what we do and talk about.

Several years ago my principal started using teachers in our school as coaches for other teachers. Their basic job is to come in and observe us in our classes and then talk with us about what we want to improve on. One of our coaches encourages the teachers he coaches to video record at least one class of themselves. A lot of teachers who have done this have found great things that they can improve in their teaching.

One teacher/coach met with one of her "coachees" and they decided to just meet together after school to discuss things. The coach was an English teacher and the "coachee" was a history teacher. So they didn't necessarily talk about specific lessons and content. They were talking about teaching in general.

The history teacher one day stopped by my room on the way back to his room and talked to me about the topics they had talked about. He and I ended up talking for about 30-40 minutes as well. After a few times of this he invited me to just come to their meeting. Another English teacher or two had also joined the meeting. They were meeting on Tuesdays that were B-Days since one of the English teachers was a part-time teacher and was only at school on B-Days.

We had a great time together. I was finding myself excited about the Tuesday B-Day meetings. There were times as I was getting ready for school that I would have to think if today was the day for our meeting or not. We first started calling our meeting the "Tuesday Meeting." However, at the beginning of this previous school year we decided to meet on Thursdays (for several different reasons). So, we jokingly called it the "Tuesday Meeting that Meets on Thursday" group or the "Meeting Formerly Known as Tuesday Meeting" group. We also started meeting more often. We decided to meet most Thursdays even if someone couldn't make it.

Also there were times that we started emailing each other articles we had found on the Internet. Most of the time these conversations went on and on about the subject we were talking about. At one point we talked about opening our email conversation to more people in our building. We of course would always invite people to our physical group meeting, and sometimes a few people would come and give great contributions to our group. However, we know that not everyone's schedule could fit into that. We felt that emails were a better way to show other teachers what we were talking about as well.

So I started delving into websites that we could use for an email list so that we could also keep track of the conversation as it went along. I searched and looked at different websites for a few hours and then I was reminded of Google Groups. As I looked into Groups a little more I found that we could actually create a mailing list with one email that people could send information to and it would send it to all the people on the list. I brought it up to our small group and we started conversing about what to call the group.

As we had been emailing each other with links to articles we had found we found ourselves starting to click on the other links in that same article. Then we found we were clicking on links in those articles to go to other articles. It became a vicious descent. Thus we decided to call our group and our mailing list "Down the Rabbit Hole" as we felt we were continually diving into more and more rabbit wholes by following the links on the articles.

With the approval of our principal we added every teacher in our building onto our mailing list. We did tell them that they don't have to read the emails and if they wanted off the list, then they could unsubscribe or ask one of the people in charge of the group to remove them. We didn't want the list to be a mandated thing that we had to do (we all know how those things work out).

I feel that I have found my tribe for now. I'm sure that some of us will move on and we may eventually abandon the group altogether one day. However, for now I feel that I am totally getting validation from this group. The first small part of this group were some of the first people that I told about giving all of my students A's. They are the ones that I almost have convinced to do the same thing, but they aren't there yet. I reassure them that they do not have to jump on board the "crazy bus" until they are ready. However, these are the teachers I hear from when students talk about what is happening in my classes.

These are also the teachers that inspire me to continue to work out this way of teaching. Even during the summer months we have been emailing here and there with articles that inspire us to think differently about what we are doing as educators. I would never have found some of the articles or videos we have shared without this group of people.

I also feel that they "Alchemy of Synergy" is working and within our group and we will be doing some great things together in our classes soon. I feel that although I have worked with different people in groups throughout the years, this is my true "tribe." As I mentioned before I totally look forward to the days that we meet. Sometimes the day can seem to drag on, but if we have our meeting that day I feel that I can make it through the day because we are meeting. There are times we have an impromptu meeting at lunch or before or after school. I absolutely love those time. They always make my day so much better.

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