Creating Community Agreements
Contributed by Elizabeth Argelia Leonard
To establish community guidelines and agreements.
- TA begins by explaining that for a community to be fair, everyone should be involved in creating its agreements, and that these agreements should not only come from the TA.
- TA reviews and/or introduces students to the following vocabulary as they begin to scaffold the activity, assessing as they go what the students know about each term: community, agreements, guidelines, bravery.
- Some words that TA might want to distinguish: rules v. guidelines, promises v. contract.
- A TA might also want to distinguish between a “safe” space and a “brave” space so that students know from the beginning they will be encouraged to take risks, try new things and share some of what they create.
- Explain the idea of a brave space as the basis for the brainstorm and these questions.
- What community agreements do you think we could make with ourselves and each other so that everyone can feel brave in order to try new things, create and share with each other?
- What agreements can we make so that everyone feels supported?
- Use the board to list all agreements generated during the brainstorm.
- “Final” Agreements:
- Have a separate paper on which to write “final” agreements.
- TA should note that the community can decide together if any agreements need to be changed or added later.
- The group can vote on the top five agreements together to come up with the “final” list.
- TA can have students “sign” the agreement, either with their signatures, stickers, a special stamp, etc.
- The final list should be reflective of the artistic spirit of the community, with color, images, etc.
- Note: The agreements should live in the classroom where they can be referred to throughout the residency, and adjusted as needed.
Transition into Activity
TA will introduce the idea of community and agreements while students are at their seats.
Transition out of Activity
TA will post the “signed” agreement, and the group can celebrate the “final” agreements by clapping (or silent clapping, snapping, silent cheering, etc.) together.
This will probably most easily be done with the TA at the board and students at their seats, or in a collective gathering space like the rug.
- If it is better for students to work individually first, TA can ask students to write down, draw or think about one agreement they would like included on the list. The TA can then decide whether to further scaffold how the students share what they have come up with. For example, students can pair share, or share in small groups. The pairs or small groups might then choose one agreement to include in the list.
- For students who are less verbal, TA can supply communication devices, incorporate the use of stickers, emojis and drawings for other means of expression. TA can also rely on some of these other supports for the “signing” of the agreements.
- TA can ask Classroom Professionals if there are already classroom agreements posted in the classroom. If having two separate lists will be challenging for students, TA can create a chart or poster that is distinct with the name of the residency (e.g. “Poetry and Dance”) written clearly and ask students to come up with “special” or “added” agreements for this group. The TA might also want to add the residency schedule to the list so that it signals to students when the agreements “are in effect.”
- Students who express themselves more easily through movement may choose to use gestures to express an idea to be included on the list and/or as a way to “sign” the agreement.
- TA may also have a written list of possible agreements and have students vote on their favorite ones.
Role of the Teachers and Paraprofessionals
- To participate and support any individual students who need it.
- To share any classroom agreements that should also be included.
- To post the agreements in their classroom.
- To scribe or support the TA in capturing what students share.
The activity can follow the same basic structure. TA can share a whiteboard screen, google slide, or Jamboard for the brainstorm. The final agreement can be a document, slide or Jamboard all students can access to “sign”.