Creating Classroom Rules
Muskogee High School

Students read a story about a student who feels uncomfortable and judged during a group discussion in a classroom. After reading the story, they think and talk about why the student felt uncomfortable and use the story to create a set of rules that would prevent anything like that from happening in their class.

Students will establish a set of rules and guidelines based on mutual respect for safe and honest discussion during their class or family advocate period, or review already existing guidelines with the same purpose.
Chart paper and markers
Masking tape
Teacher resource, Keisha's Story
Read Keisha's Story. Feel free to adapt it so that it is relevant to your group. In an experienced group, write existing rules on chart paper for students to review. Identify any group rules that you, as the teacher or advocate, believe are important or mandatory for your group.

Open the activity by telling students that people sometimes feel a little uncomfortable in a group like this. This is especially true for people who are new to the class. Ask students to turn to a partner and take a minute to discuss why they think people might worry or be nervous in a group that talks about feelings and experiences.
Read the story to the group. Ask students to share their reactions.
Divide students into groups of three and ask the person with the longest hair (or the shiniest shoes, or the darkest hair, etc.) to serve as a group recorder (someone to take notes). Explain that the groups have five minutes to brainstorm a list of rules or guidelines that they feel might have prevented what happened to Keisha. In an experienced group, instruct students to review their group’s existing rules. Let them know they can add new rules-or delete old ones- if they want.

Social Contract:10 minutes. Allow students time to blend the ideas and thoughts from the small groups into a classroom Social Contract of how they agree to treat one another. Post the contract in the classroom as a visual reminder of their expectations for themselves.

Teachers should regularly review the classroom rules and student contract that has been established. As various situations arise have students reflect on their successes and shortcomings related to the rules they established.
See if students follow the social contract they create.