Monday, December 22, 2014

Establishing Norms... Worth Every Second!


Creating a collaborative and trusting classroom community takes planning, routines and management. Outside the classroom educators are part of a larger, collaborative community. Just as it is important to create and establish trust with our students, it takes the same type of careful planning to create an adult learning community. One way to cultivate these communities is to as a group generate norms. This week I would like to share some "norm" building resources to bring back to your PLC and school community.

The first resource takes us into a Middle School in Washington. The principal in the video discusses the importance of building a strong leadership team through establishing norms. Teachers and other faculty through the building speak to the importance of setting norms when coming together as a new group. They say that this is one of the first activities they engage in together. This sets the tone, and allows teachers parameters when discussing a variety of topics.

So how where do you begin? The National Staff Development Council provides an activity based resource/protocol on developing norms collaboratively. If you scroll to the 3rd and 4th page of this resource you will find the protocol as well as a chart which defines 6 areas to consider when creating norms (Time, Listening, Confidentiality, Decision Making, Participation, Expectations). It is a great resource and visual to work off of as a group.

Finally, The U.S. Department of the State cites Seven Norms of Collaboration on their webpage. In addition, they provide a rationales and round robin activity where groups think about how and if they are working collaboratively.

Collaboration is an important piece of school culture. We expect and want our students to work with others. It is just as important for us as adults to practice what we preach in our own day to day meetings with others. Generating norms does not have to take a lot of time, but when needed are worth every second.

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