Essential reciprocity

20071018_declaration

We have begun our study of the Constitution, looking at John Locke and actually exploring a short piece of his from his Second Treatise on Political Government. The students were surprised at how understandable he is.

Today we examined the Declaration of Independence and discussed its abundance of Lockean ideas. It was in our discussion of the meta nature of the Declaration (that, in fact, it does not just speak Locke, but actually is an act demonstrating Locke’s theories), that MH suggested that we need a social contract in class. I’m sure his suggestion was meant to include the possibility for the class to revolt if their “natural” rights as students were infringed in any way.

I truly wish I had the time to assign them this project—to create a classroom social contract between the students and me would be the perfect activity for their teenage creativity. However, alas, we only have four and a half weeks left until the Constitution test. Unfortunately we do not have the time necessary to devote to this awesome project.

So, I created a contract for me and a contract for them (a faint and much tamer version of what I am sure they might have been able to do). The two contracts are actually not too Lockean, but the two together are definitely a covenant. I sometimes do this at the beginning of the year, but I didn’t get around to it this school year. This seemed the perfect moment to bring them out, tweak them a bit, and offer them to the kids.

Both of the contracts are almost exactly the same. If the students and I are both doing our parts, the class experience and personal growth for all of us will be generous and fulfilling. I want the students to know that there is an essential reciprocity in the work we do together in the classroom. It’s “self-evident.”

Teacher Contract:

I,______________________________________________, as an 8th grade Humanities teacher at _______________________, commit to:

  1. Being at school and in my classes on time every day.
  2. Being at school every day unless I am ill, an emergency or significant event has occurred, or I am furthering my ability to be a better teacher.
  3. Presenting material in the classroom in the most engaging way I can.
  4. Making sure, to the best of my ability, that all of my students are understanding the material being explored in class.
  5. Being fully prepared for all of my classes.
  6. Giving thoughtful, responsible, constructive feedback to my students, in a timely manner, about the work they have done and are doing.
  7. Helping all of us to become better learners and to master skills.
  8. Creating a learning environment where all of us can flourish.
  9. Understanding that learners grow over time, therefore focusing on the improvements each learner makes.

I will not inhibit anyone else’s right to learn.

____________________________________   _____________               signed with my life, my fortune, and my sacred honor*        date

And the Student Contract:

I, ______________________________________________, as a student in 8th grade Humanities at _______________________________, commit to:

  1. Being at school and in my classes on time every day.
  2. Being at school every day unless I am ill, an emergency or significant event has occurred, or I am furthering my ability to be a better student.
  3. Engaging and fully participating in the work and activities in the classroom with focus and sincerity.
  4. Letting the teacher know when I do not understand the material; being a good advocate for myself when I need help.
  5. Being fully prepared for all of my classes by making sure my class assignments are carefully and thoughtfully completed and in on time.
  6. Giving responsible, constructive feedback to my teachers and peers about the work we are doing in class.
  7. Helping all of us to become better learners and to master skills.
  8. Creating a learning environment where all of us can flourish.
  9. Committing to growing as a student, knowing that my teacher will focus on the progress I make.

I am ultimately responsible for my own education.
I will not inhibit anyone else’s right to learn.
I also pledge no unauthorized aid in any test I take or paper I prepare.

____________________________________   _____________
signed with my life, my fortune, and my sacred honor*        date

(*modified from the Declaration of Independence)

This entry was posted in citizenship, education, history, school, Teaching and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Essential reciprocity

  1. Jerome Bloom says:

    PLEASE LET ME KNOW

    HOW THIS TURNS OUT

    THANK YOU

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