Social Contracts Foster Community in the Classroom
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Social Contracts Foster Community in the Classroom


>>Cristina: Before we get
started, I really want to go over the Social Contract that we
created in the beginning of the year.>>Takila: Because we
do Social Contracts, students feel a sense of empowerment. They work collaboratively and
monitor their own interactions. Students develop positive relationships
with the teacher and their peers alike.>>Brooklyn: We were being
polite with each other.>>Takila: Good morning, good morning! Good morning, Mr. David!>>Catherine: At Haines Elementary
School, I think it’s very important that students have ownership of
their learning, we have students in every grade level
doing Social Contracts. It creates a community in the classroom,
and it also fosters a different type of learning for our students
because it came from them.>>Cristina: So Social Contracts
are a great way for teachers and students to come to an agreement. Pretty much a baseline for behavior. What they see up on that wall gives them
the ownership and the accountability for themselves and for others.>>Brooklyn: The Contract has
helped us to communicate better. It really does help you think
about what you’re going to say and how the other person
will react to it.>>Jaylee: It gives everybody a chance
to speak up about what they want to do instead of just
having the teacher write down the Social Contract,
and nobody agrees to it.>>Takila: Today we get to do
one of my very special things. You get to help me determine how we’re
going to interact in our classroom. Question number one.>>Takila: So the Social Contract
is built from the responses of four essential questions. “How do you want to be treated by me? How do you want to be
treated by each other? How do you think I want
to be treated by you? And how do you want to handle
violations of the contract?” Students answer those questions
independently, and then we share out.>>Jaylee: I want you to
treat us respectfully, so we could have a great time together
and nobody will be upset during class.>>Takila: As we’re sharing, we just
start to make a list of important words.>>Takila: How do you think
I want to be treated by you?>>Student: You wouldn’t want us to
be yelling around or playing around.>>Student: I think you would
also want us to be honest, because if we be honest we
can find easier solutions of things to go more smoothly.>>Takila: How will we handle
violations of the contract? What if it’s one of your classmates? And what if I’m teaching? What should you do that
doesn’t cause a disturbance?>>Takila: So students agree to use
the thumb sideways as a cue to say, “Check yourself and check the Contract.”>>Takila: After the Contract
is generated, students are encouraged to sign it.>>Takila: I’m going to go first. I think that this is a good idea. I am agreeing to abide by this Contract.>>Catherine: The Social Contract is
posted up in the front of the room and is being referred
to on a regular basis.>>Cristina: The ownership helps
to facilitate discussions, because they know the norms.>>Cristina: So let’s really make
sure that we are following through and we’re being respectful,
polite, listening, giving others the opportunity to speak.>>Brooklyn: She asked us how
can we use our Social Contract in our discussion of
the Little Rock Nine.>>Student: Jim Crow Laws
are like preventing them to do anything that they wanted to do.>>Cristina: One of the
things that students put up there was having empathy. That is going to be an
important component to how they interact with each other.>>Brooklyn: When they
was checking her I.D., they definitely felt some
type of way knowing–>>Student: A type of way
like racism against them, even though they’re guarding them.>>Cristina: When we came to
the Reflective portion of it, we looked right back at the contract.>>Student: Everybody listened
to the people presenting and everybody had a chance to talk.>>Takila: At the end of
the day in our class, students use a simple
three/two/one rating. Three, we nailed it. We followed everything in the Contract. Two, there may have been
a distraction or two. One, we had major issues.>>Student: I picked three because
we worked together as a team. When Vicki was stuck at her
desk, Nevin decided to help her.>>Jaylee: Ever since we made the Social
Contract, our class has been going by like faster, because
we get along so much.>>Takila: The Social Contract allows
me to maximize instructional time. Students know that it’s a
part of their responsibility to take care of themselves and others.>>Cristina: Because we have
Social Contracts in our classroom, we can speak their mind and respect
and value what other people say.>>Brooklyn: It always
reminds me every day. I signed for it. I agreed with it, so I have to commit.

About James Carlton

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6 thoughts on “Social Contracts Foster Community in the Classroom

  1. I like the idea of a social contract. It shows that students are committed because they helped create it and understand that it is a commitment and a promise they agreed to.

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