Action Hero Teacher
6 Rules You Need To Create the Perfect Social Contract
For the last 3 weeks, we have looked out the what, why & when we create a Social Contract. I even gave you a way to break it to your students last week.
For the last blog in the series, I will give you a Social Contact template that I use to this day! It will take 5 minutes to create & once you & your class have got it down, you will have your own classroom Magna Carta.
Edit this template as you see fit - it's your students! But what I have learnt over the years, is that most of the ground rules that you would want to put in your classroom can be captured under these headings - enjoy!
Rule numero uno. I always explain to the class that none of the other rules will work if we are not being safe. Safety is composed of two parts:
Physical Safety - No-one in the class should touch others in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened. This includes the obvious culprits such as punching, kicking, slapping and prodding, but this also includes unwanted hugs, placing hands inappropriate places and caressing.
Emotional Safety - No-one in the class should say things that will intentionally hurt other people’s feelings. I usually make it very clear that no-one should mock people based on their colour, religion, gender, sexuality, financial status, nationality or anything else. I always point out to my students that what they find a joke; other people may not find it funny. More often than not, a violation of Emotional Safety will lead directly to someone’s Physical Safety being threatened. When I was growing up in East London, a sure way to get into a fight with someone was to insult his or her mother. All someone had to say was “Your Mum” and several fists would come flying their way. I emphasise that every single person must feel welcome in the class we should all try to protect each other.
In my class I do warn that those people, who continually break these rules will have a hard time staying in the classroom. Of all the rules, this one must be upheld and cherished.
Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?
Which rules was right at the bottom? Yep, Physical Safety. If you cannot guarantee the safety of your students, then good luck doing anything else with them.
This is the second most important rule of the classroom. In inner-city London, the students are very fond of talking about this concept. More often than not, when outbursts happen in class, it is often around this issue.
Have you ever heard cries of “nah, don’t disrespect me” then you get the idea. I tell my students that Respect encapsulates how you speak to each other.
As the Golden Rule states, “do unto others as you want others to do on to you.”
I tell my students to speak to everyone in the room how they want to be spoken to. I added ‘manners’ next to it as I feel that as long as the students are courteous towards each other, then this rule will take care of itself.
This one is an easy one. Every person in the class deserves to be listened to whether they are the students or the teachers.
I tell my students that listening carefully and thoughtfully shows the other person that you care about their opinion and thus you care about them.
Especially with the younger students, I may go over ways to show people that you are listening to them like eye contact, not speaking when they are speaking and their bodies are turned towards the speaker. Adjust this rule for your needs.
4. Positive Attitude
This rule refers to how the individual’s presence affects everyone around them. I make sure that I emphasise that we should all be mindful of how what body language, tone of voice and their general demeanour affects others.
With this rule, I tell my students that it doesn’t mean that all walk around with a ridiculous grin on our faces like the Cheshire Cat but to be able to be honest with our feelings and handle them the best that we can for our sake and the people around us.
Simply, I explain to the class that we have to do the work to the best of our ability. With this particular rule, you may find a little resistance...
If you hear a lot of groans then try the strategies in my blog, "4 Teaching Strategies That Will Keep Your Students on the Edge of Their Seats," it can help!
I always try to make my students see the big picture: whether it is to pass their GCSEs, gain their apprenticeship or enter University, our job is to work together to get that result.
Notice that I framed it as “working to best of our ability.” From our teacher training, we know how to differentiate. Do not be afraid to push and challenge your students — they are not in your institution for a free ride.
For me, it’s super important for my students to know that where we can, we should have fun. Study after study has shown that fun helps you learn faster — why do you think kids love computer games?
But did you notice that I have put a line above the word? This is a critical point that I tell to all my pupils: We cannot have fun until all the other parts of the contract are completed, it’s that simple.
That's it! If you have also read Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3 of this series, then you have a good grounding on how to set effective ground rules.
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Do it - That's an order.
Karl from actionheroteacher.com