In my Social Media class last week, we read an excellent article titled “How To Build Your Tribe – Finding ‘Your People’” by Marc Chernoff. According to the author, a tribe is “a pack, clan, elected family, posse, crew, network, or true friends–is a group of people who share common interests and values and show genuine appreciation and care for each other.” A tribe is a group of people who support and accept you for who you are. Chernoff also says they provide a sense of community or support, and says “If you feel tribe-less, rest assured in the knowledge that your tribe is out there.  In addition, if you’re already surrounded by a supportive tribe, remember that there are probably many members of your tribe that you have not met yet.” This is very much true and it’s exciting to think about. It’s difficult for me to meet people because I work from home. Sometimes the only outside people I talk to in a day is the barista at the coffee stand. However, as I’ve gotten more involved in outside interests, and as I’ve taken down some of the walls I’ve built, I’ve found that my tribe is expanding, slowly but surely.

Tribes in education are very important in my personal opinion. It is a place where you should feel safe, accepted, and supported. I attended a major university for my undergraduate degree and I was a bit older than most of the students, so I felt it was harder to meet more people. However, the students in my degree program were a tribe because we all shared the same academic interest, and luckily my program had three different ways to complete our practicum projects (radio station, TV station, newspaper) and that is where we all came together. As much as I hated Tuesday evenings because it meant I was running some sort of equipment for the nightly campus news, I felt a sense of belonging and a sense of community. Those are memories I wouldn’t trade.

For my first master’s degree, I was in an online program. The sense of community was very poor. Unfortunately, there was a student who enjoyed making things difficult for everyone and was a bully. This lady caused much discomfort and anxiety for many of us. It felt like 5th grade all over again for me. We also had a few problems with poor advising, classes that didn’t really focus on what our degree program was, and much more. The strange thing was, we became a tribe because of the negativity of the program. This should not be the norm. In education, we need to be building people up, not putting them down. We need to foster a sense of security and belonging. Learners from PreK all the way up to older students all deserve a tribe that supports them and provides a community. I am building a networked learning space currently for K-12 distance education teachers and I am going to assure that the people who use this space will be able to find their tribe.