Creating Community Agreements

In this activity, students and Classroom Professionals co-create community guidelines, fostering a liberated learning environment, and building community and a point of referral for classroom management. 

Creating Community Agreements

Creating Community Agreements

Contributed by Elizabeth Argelia Leonard


In this activity, students and Classroom Professionals co-create community guidelines, fostering a liberated learning environment, and building community and a point of referral for classroom management. 


  •  Introduction:
    1. Begin 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 teachers.
    2. Introduce students to or review 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.
    3. You might want to distinguish rules versus guidelines, and promises versus contracts.
    4. You also might 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.
  • Brainstorm:
    1. Explain the idea of a brave space as the basis for the brainstorm and these questions.
    2. “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?”
    3. “What agreements can we make so that everyone feels supported?”
    4. Use the board to list all agreements generated during the brainstorm.
  • “Final” agreements:
    1. Have a separate paper on which to write final agreements.
    2. Note that the community can decide together if any agreements need to be changed or added later.
    3. The group can vote on the top five agreements together to come up with the final list.
    4. You can have students sign the agreement with their signatures, stickers, a special stamp, or something else.
    5. 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. Agreements can be utilized as a classroom management tool throughout the residency, providing students with reminders of how to create and maintain a fair/brave space for others.

Transition Into Activity

Introduce the idea of community and agreements while students are at their seats.

Transition Out of Activity

After posting the signed final agreements, the group can celebrate by clapping (or silent clapping, snapping, silent cheering, etc.) together.

Classroom Arrangement

The students can be in their seats, or in a collective gathering space like a rug.

Supports/Adaptive Materials/Tools

  • If it is better for students to work individually first, ask students to write down, draw, or think about one agreement they would like included on the list. 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, you can supply communication devices or incorporate the use of stickers, emojis, and drawings for other means of expression. You can also rely on some of these other supports for the signing of the agreements.
  • Ask Classroom Professionals if there are already classroom agreements posted in the classroom. If having two separate lists will be challenging for students, you can create a distinct chart or poster 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. You 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.
  • You can present a written list of possible agreements and have students vote on their favorite ones.

Possible Roles for Classroom Professionals

  • 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 transcribe or support in capturing what students share.

Adjustments for Remote Instruction

This activity can be helpful in getting started during a virtual residency with the same basic structure. You can share a whiteboard screen, Google Slide, or Jamboard for the brainstorm. The final agreement can be a document, Slide, or Jamboard that all students can access to sign.