For the past several years, teachers and students have begun the year by setting personal and community goals. They have asked the question, "What do we need written in a social contract to ensure that every member of our community can reach her/his goals."
Last year we held a "social contract convention" for 4th through 8th grade students and teachers. Each class sent its Student Council representative to the convention, and those students, with the guidance of three teachers, combed through individual classroom "rules" to make one social contract.
This year we decided to do it differently by using the second Encuentro of the year to bring all 4th through 8th graders together in Family Circles to come up with their ideas for what needed to be included in the social contract. These mixed-age groups allowed each child to hear and come to understand the perspectives of older and younger schoolmates.
On Friday 4th these students came together in groups of family circles, 11 in all, to create "rules to live by" that would ensure a community that is welcoming and supportive to all. We grouped like ideas together, narrowing a list from over 20 rules to 5 or 6 that we all agreed seemed most important.
The 8th grade will now further refine these ideas and the language of our social contract. After a "ratification" Encuentro one October 9, the most general rules of engagement will return to each grade and classroom for further articulation: What do these rules look like in this grade and this class?