The organization, Youth Workin`It, provides a good definition of what a « group agreement » is and what sets it apart from « rules. » One way to ensure that non-negotiables are on the Community agreement list is to add them to the class at the end of the brainstorming. If the class has added chords to the list, I think as a facilitator, you can always add one or two at the end. You can be transparent about it and say that you are also a member of the community, and you can also build on your past experience and say, « In the past, we have had this agreement and it works really well – what do you think you add to it? » Last fall, I tried exactly the same exercise with a group of second and eleventh graders. It wasn`t worth it. Although they did their shopping on the margins of the process, self-enforcement collapsed during the year. Agreements such as « one person speaks at a time » were quickly abandoned and students generally rebelled against all structures put in place by students or employees. In addition, silence has held back a group of students among whom they wanted to build a community. As the rest of the class has said, I find safety and respect to be a necessary component of group agreements. Respect is a rule that can be very difficult to apply because of a theory of class moral relativity that deserves respect.

Nevertheless, I do not think that individuals would not come to a conclusion as a necessary rule. In my experience, it is the wording of the rules that makes the difference. Of course, many students would mention similar topics such as respect, and as teachers, these ideas could simply be developed or supplemented to create non-negotiable standards. In a real-life situation, this means that « inserting the name » is said to « insert the agreement. » From there, a teacher might say, « I will add, « insert an explanation. » What I found was that students usually set the rules that you had in mind anyway. You have gone through the process long enough to understand what they should do in the classroom before you even ask. I have definitely seen that the standards created with the group, the students are much more inclined to keep themselves and the other responsible and it makes the non-negotiable at the school level seem as if they were part of what the students created from the beginning. For my first two years of learning, I made the rules list and added some school-wide rules, as electronic devices must be absent during classes. I have tried to make it a non-negotiable rule that only one person speaks at a time, if I speak or if a student speaks. For me, it`s under the umbrella. I framed her as « one person, one Mike, » and it worked in most of my classes. I pointed out that as an ESL student, everyone needs a chance to practice talking.

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