The Teacher’s Voice
In mid-September, my class developed a Classroom Constitution - a code of expectations, responsibilities, values and beliefs. This project was student-initiated by students who had completed a similar activity previously. The constitution was entirely driven by the students and they created their own plan for how the development process would unfold. My role was to facilitate their collaborative plan with supplies, space, and time.
The students started by inviting each classmate to individually answer a set of student-created prompts. They then paired students to share their ideas. This was done by pairing a returning student with a student that was new to the classroom. The pairs then formed groups of 4 and then groups of 8 to continue the sharing process. Each time a new group was formed they identified, discussed, and starred the ideas they had in common. Each group of 8 then wrote out these common ideas on chart paper and shared them with the whole class.
The chart paper was then cut apart to separate the ideas into individual pieces. These pieces were then arranged by moving the ideas around, grouping similar ideas, and creating a logical flow. The constitution was then left in ‘draft’ form for over a week in a shared classroom space. During this time, pieces were moved, modified, and discussed until a consensus was achieved. After they developed the constitution, the students asked me to “make it pretty.”
Once completed, the students invited each member of the community (learners, teachers, EAs, and support staff) to sign it as evidence of their commitment to the community values.
Student Work Sample
What I observed:
- Diverse leadership – many people took turns leading the group.
- Willingness to ‘try it’ and then ‘try again’ if it didn’t work – reasonable risk taking.
What I heard:
- “Yeah but we need to hear from everyone, this needs to be ALL our voices”
- “Can you tell me more about that?”
- “I wonder what might happen if we tried...”
- “Does anyone see any patterns?”
- “Wow, I think everyone had that! Can we all agree that that one is a ‘keeper’?”
- “How are we all doing? Should we do a check in? Do we need a break?”
- “Is there another way to say that? How could we turn it positive?”
I can facilitate group processes and encourage collective responsibility for our progress.
I play a role in collectively monitoring the progress of the group and adjust my contributions as needed. I recognize the interdependence of our roles and draw on these to move us forward. I ask thought-provoking questions, integrat
e new information and various perspectives from others, and think critically about whose voices are missing. I can disagree respectfully, anticipate potential conflicts and help manage them when they arise. I give, receive, and act on constructive feedback in support of our goals, and can evaluate and revise plans with other group members.