One of the most important things to do early in the school year is establish a classroom culture. Teachers have many ways of doing this, from reading through the rules, using ice breakers, or even challenging students to solve a problem together.
This year, I decided not to post my classroom rules or consequences. I know, it sounds counter productive, but stay with me here. I asked my students to help me create the way our classroom operates using our school's four keys to success: "Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Involved."
I asked students to respond to the following prompts on color coded sticky notes, placing the notes under the proper heading. Then we sorted them all as a group and labeled them, selecting the most common themes that emerged.
All of the students sign the final document which I call the "Classroom Contract". It is a set of terms for each both students and myself. Here is the document version (before the signatures).
My plan is to create a survey where students can check in on how we are keeping up with our agreed upon norms. I will have students periodically rate me, themselves and each other against the classroom contract.
Jeff is a technology teacher at Mountain Valley High School (MVHS). He teaches high school students in the areas of video production, broadcasting, CAD, architectural design and engineering, and serves as the co-advisor of the Student Improv Group. He spent ten years as an English teacher at MVHS as well. Jeff started his teaching career in 1998. Jeff holds a Bachelor’s of Science in secondary education from University of Maine at Farmington and a Master’s of Science in educational technology from the University of Maine.