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Developing Community Agreements

Community agreements are statements that guide how members of a classroom community (students, instructors, TAs) aspire to work and interact with each other. Ideally, they should emerge from a process implemented at the beginning of a term. Once developed, a list of community agreements is a living document. Use it as a guide throughout the term and revisit it from time to time.

Here are some basic steps for creating a set of community agreements:

  • Generate ideas for community agreements. Block class time early in the term to introduce the concept of community agreements. If you are co-creating community agreements with students, consider having them reflect on a few prompts, such as:
    • What do you need from others (peers, instructor, TAs) for this to be a positive, inclusive learning environment?
    • What do you need from others to succeed during collaborative/group work
    • What do you need from others to succeed during discussion?
  • Discuss the proposed list of agreements. Working individually or in small groups, ask students to share their responses to the prompts. Have them generate a list on a shared Google doc or whiteboard. Then invite the class to consider everyone’s responses.
    • Where is their overlap and agreement?
    • Are there any responses that require elaboration or explanation?
  • Synthesize student contributions. Working from the class discussion, synthesize students’ responses into a list. Keep the list short (between 4-8). Long lists can be overwhelming and hard to implement. Share the list with students and keep it posted in an easily accessible place, such as the course Canvas page.
  • Revisit the community agreements. You might find it helpful to have students read through the agreements at the beginning of a group assignment or before discussing a particularly sensitive topic. Refer to the community agreements when things get difficult in class or when a conflict arises.