As a self-professed introvert, I can sometimes have a rather tough time just being in the presence of people, even people I like. I’ll also be the first to admit my impatience can turn like into annoyance, and what was originally meant to be a nice gathering into something sharper and less kind. So I suppose this book and the activities within it are for the likes of my selfish heart.


I was first introduced to tribes during my teacher credentialing days. My pedagogy instructor was a fan (and also named Jeanne). Originally published at the turn of this century (2001), I didn’t get my hands on the actual book until a couple years ago. The introduction reads like a repetitive monologue I’ve heard over and over again – but only because I have. Back in 2001, the idea that schools need to change from training for factories to a more caring, conscientious model was probably state-of-the-art. And I do appreciate how this book doesn’t pretend it is the end-all-be-all, unlike some other books on culturally and linguistically responsive teaching strategies.

There are no easy answers, and certainly no single program or curriculum can revitalize a school.

About half of this book is spent describing ‘tribes,’ the theory and reasoning behind it, the use of tribes in classrooms, and the effect that can happen in various grade levels. The second half is basically a list of activities to use in the classroom, complete with introduction, materials list, appropriate grade levels, and debrief. The debrief is probably the most important – without it, this out just be a book of random get-to-know-you, ice-breakers, energizers, and team-building activities.

Some activities can be a bit too precious for my taste. But perhaps that’s what I need to learn and process for myself. After all, there’s something to be said about the appreciation of the less corporate side of life.


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