Class Essential Agreements

Essential agreements are not rules and directions, but essential agreements indicate common standards and expectations. This is a joint action by all the staff in this classroom or all the teams involved to outline the environment that will help everyone learn and achieve their best. Finding a reasonable substantive agreement with so many learners was a difficult prospect. […] A key agreement has been reached in our classroom. He focused on two areas: how we deal with each other and how we […] […] Time, but it is a delicate and important process in our attempt to understand each other. This blog, from the IB website, is a great resource for those who are interested in formulating essential agreements […] After our class discussion on our essential agreement, a boy raised his hand. “Where are the rules? If it is an essential agreement, should it not say what we can and cannot do?¬†What will you do differently when you develop your core agreement this year? We wanted our children to understand that while there may be certain behaviours that they have to follow in the pool or in art class, the expectation of how they treated their teachers (and how their teachers treated) was the same throughout the school. I really like that the focus is not on the rules, but on an essential agreement that reflects collective values and behaviours about how the class wants to have its learning environment. Today, Jocelyn and I developed our class agreement. We started asking the children to think carefully and then write down what helps them learn and what hinders their learning. Later, we brought back a list of all the things they had written, and as a group, the students highlighted those they considered to be an essential class agreement that would maximize learning for all. This will be compiled, another time, to make sure everyone agrees and then we will have our class meal agreement! What I noticed is that despite the title, many class agreements are still lists of rules. Essential agreements can cover a wide range of topics, including: in a PYP school, every class, every team, even the whole school has an essential agreement that sets the tone for collaboration and teamwork.

Otherwise, how could we know what the common standards and expectations are? There are endless opportunities to develop such agreements, and since the start of a new school year in Australia, all our teams and classes have been working on theirs. We then thought about what our classroom should be, and the children left in pairs to chat. The next day, we asked, “What are the most important things for you?” While some teachers no longer use the term “rules” in their classrooms, others still use it because they might think about what their classroom would look like without rules.