One of the most crucial parts of starting any new school year is building a classroom community. KidsTek instructors use a wide variety of strategies and projects to get to know their students and help students get to know them, but one of the most popular and effective activities amongst our classes is creating a classroom contract.
Of course, different teachers have different approaches, but fundamentally, a classroom contract is a student-generated list of expectations and agreements for everyone in the room. Students come up with ideas on what is reasonable to expect of them as individual learners, of their teacher, and of the class as a whole.
Emily Tow, KidsTek’s Program Manager, has often used classroom contracts. “Classroom contracts are great because not only do they help set the ground rules for everyone in the room, but they also encourage students to reflect on what their needs are as learners and what kinds of behaviors and environments foster learning for everyone,” said Tow. “Obviously, some rules are still set top-down, but when students are empowered to collaborate with their peers to create a positive environment, it gives them so much more buy-in with the community.”
Some common examples of expectations of individual students include being prepared for class, listening and not talking when others are speaking, and being responsible for their own learning. Teacher expectations often include treating students equally, being patient, and giving clear directions. Expectations for the class as a community usually include things like treating each other with respect, supporting each other, and encouraging each other to be successful students.
“I love seeing the suggestions that my students come up with every year,” said Tow. “A lot of things are fairly universal like respect and listening, but every once in a while someone comes up with something I hadn’t even thought of, so it’s a great learning experience for me as well.”