Designing a Class Charter...But First, a Challenge

Today we tried to decide on a whole class RULER charter based on the work kids did in small groups last week. I wasn't quite sure what to expect after the kids expressed doubts at the end of our last lesson. My first surprise came when the kids voted to have a small group of representatives draft the charter, but it was part of a good teachable moment about different ways to come to consensus as a community. I had to think quickly though to give the rest of the class a task to work on while I huddled with the representatives they elected from their small groups.

When I was done working with my small group, it felt like we'd done a good job consolidating some of the ideas, and generating some new ones. When it was time to present our work, we ran into a barrier though. It was the same doubt and pessimism from last week. As we tried to work through the part of the charter that outlines, "In order to feel this way, we will..." several kids were adamant that the proposed actions like, "Be kind to each other," and "Solve problems then start over," would never work.

I feel somewhat stuck. I want to honor these kids' feelings, but I don't know how to implement our new charter if kids don't believe it will work.

I'm also a bit sad and confused by their negativity. I worry that maybe my co-teacher and I are partly responsible for their mindset. Perhaps by constantly redirecting and expressing frustration, we've given them the sense that they aren't capable of being respectful, hard-working, and kind to one another. I'm hoping that's not the case, and this is just part of pre-teen surliness. Either way, I have to figure out a way to break through.

I think I'll start by investigating their thinking more. I also want to encourage them to focus on their own behavior, which they can control. Hopefully, even if they can't trust their classmates, they can trust themselves.


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