Guest Article by Stefany from Interactive Learning with Miss Stefany
You’ve heard it said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I’m here today to talk about a related truth, “it takes a tribe to educate a student.” Yes, students of all ages and backgrounds thrive as part of a learning tribe. What is a learning tribe? And, what are the challenges in creating a learning tribe?
What is a learning tribe?
Here’s the short version, a learning tribe is a network of caring and concerned individuals who surround a student with encouragement and support. Just as it is true in the world of indigenous peoples, all tribes look and act differently, but have one thing in common, they look out for each other. A learning tribe does the same. Teachers, coaches, parents and grandparents, tutors, therapists and counselors, even older siblings, all come together to help the student succeed.
For this tribe to serve its purpose, all members must be on the same page. The tutor has to know what skills and concepts the student is struggling with the most to prepare effective lessons. The coaches and therapists have to know what issues the student is facing that might affect his/her progress. And parents and other guardians must know what is expected of the student on a daily basis.
What are the challenges in creating a learning tribe?
There are two big challenges to creating an effective learning tribe: time and what to communicate.
Every adult in the child’s tribe has time commitments, and these commitments can restrict the amount of communication allowed to flow through the tribe. One very basic, so basic we usually forget about it, tool we have at our fingertips to overcome this challenge is the “CC” line on our emails.
As a tutor, if I type up an email to a student or his parent that would benefit the classroom teacher, I just pop her name in the cc line. When she has time, she responds as needed. It took no more of my time to pop that name in there than it would have to just send the email off without it. The nice thing about email is it doesn’t matter what time I send them, the recipient will open it when it’s convenient for them! I’ve managed to open the email door with a couple of my students’ classroom teachers, but not many.
So here’s a note of encouragement to those of you reading this who have students with tutors, just add their email address to your contact list, and pop them into the cc line. Some especially helpful things to include them are: notices of missing homework or projects, low test score notifications, positive behavioral changes, or a change in the daily routine (this is especially helpful for special needs students), suggestions for practice at home, and commendation for a job well done.
That touches on the next challenge, what should we be communicating, how much, and how often? My response to parents, counselors, and classroom teachers in my tribes is this: “Don’t hold back, if you think it will help me better serve our student, share it, there’s no such thing as too much or too frequent!”
We are all busy, that is true, but here’s the thing, if a teacher wants to write to me every Friday with a synopsis of what our student accomplished, struggled with, and barely got through over the week, I’m going to take the time to read it thoroughly, apply it to my lesson planning, and reciprocate. A good rule of thumb then, is communicate the things you would find most helpful, to the extent you would like to know, and as often as you would like to know. Pretty easy to remember if you just think of “The Golden Rule.”
If you’d like a simple form you can use to help facilitate this intercommunication, head over to my TpT store and download this freebie.
Curious about what an effective learning tribe looks like? Head over to my blog, and read more about this topic.
Stefany Smith is a private tutor, teacherpreneur, homeschooling mother, and co-op teacher, wife, and mother of 4 uniquely gifted children. You can find her on Facebook, her blog, and Pinterest, as well as visit her store on TPT.