Saturday, October 4, 2014

Social Contract

One of the best parts of looping is that we could hit the ground running this year. So much so, that we didn't even realize that we hadn't had the "Behavior Conversation" until the 3rd week of school. I'm not saying that we didn't talk about the basics, but it was a very different experience than last year. In all honesty...we didn't really "need" it...our students simply picked up where we left off.

The foundation for our behaviors for last year and this year is our "Social Contract."
Our Current Social Contracts
But to create these beautiful documents, we needed to move in "baby steps!"

Building a Contract
Last year, as our first year in TEAM Togetherness, we spent the first 3 weeks of school building "T-Charts" in SMART files that focused on everyday skills that we needed to practice or discuss as a "TEAM". Examples: Transitioning to whole group, lining up for _____, independent time during reader's workshop, etc. It was time well-spent. We framed the T-Charts as "Looks Like" and "Doesn't Look Like" behaviors, with the skill listed at the top. The students had the most fun coming up with the "Doesn't Look Like", of course, but they really knew what it should "Look Like", as well. These T-Charts were printed for reference in the room until our contract was written. If a behavior were to arise, we could simply use that same language: "Is this was it should "Look Like" or is this "Doesn't Look Like" behavior?" or "Show me what a quiet line "Looks Like"-and they would quiet down and straighten up right away!
Click to see full T-Chart list
From those T-charts, we wrote our classroom social contract. The social contract dictates the rules that we will function under as a classroom community. The students helped us word them and deemed what they thought was most important. We did need to guide them a few times in the "right" direction of how to word things (ex: celebrating differences), but they were very proud of their work.

This year, when we broached the topic of our social contract, we reviewed last year's copy. After a quick discussion, they all agreed that they wanted to continue to work off of that contract--and why wouldn't they??--They wrote it! :)
Click to see the full size version
What we did spend quality time with this year, was writing a technology component.  This was something that we felt was missing in 4th grade. Because our student engagement is so high, the majority of the issues we ran into with regards to behaviors, were minor technology infractions (ex: not being on the site they were supposed to be on, searching for music videos on YouTube, using the chat function instead of working, etc.) We, again, began with T-Charts and discussed appropriate behaviors that tie with our technology privileges. We, as per usual, were incredibly impressed with the rules they came up with!
Click for the full view!
Most importantly for this type of behavior management system to be successful, we had to have consequences that were decided upon by the students. We had to insert one in their list with regards to district policy, but in all honesty, we had to scale them back some! The punishments they came up with were often much more harsh than what we would have generated!

When a student breaks these rules, they have to complete a "Think Plan"--this document gives them the opportunity to reflect on their actions and make decisions about how they will make it right. This document has to be signed by them, us, and their families. This year, we have both contract agreements on the document, so they are visible for their reflection.
Click to See the Full Contract (2 sided)
These foundational pieces are critical in our environment. The student voice and choice involved helps set up our community for success. How do you establish community rules? Feel free to sound off below! We'd love to learn with you!

~Angela :)

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