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Creating a Classroom Contract with Students

by Jeff Bailey, Oxford County Teacher of the Year Allied Arts, Mountain Valley High School

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.

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