How do we collaborate?
Students will build a foundation for their classroom community by completing a Full Value Contract.
- Growth Mindset
- IQ Principles
Warm Up Exercise (10 Mins)
Customize a community building warm up activity for your group needs. You can consult the following resources for ideas:
● Warm Ups in Design Thinking
● Partners for Youth Empowerment
● Icebreakers & Teambuilders
● Inuit Games
Experiential Activity: Full Value Contract (30mins+)
A Full Value Contract is a starting point for any group. It provides the ground rules for behavior for the life of the group. Depending on time constraints a Full Value Contract can be provided by the facilitator or it may be developed by the group. If time allows the development of a Full Value Contract by the group is preferred. There is more buy-in and greater chance that the group will hold each other accountable for behavior.
The following commitments are the foundation for the full value contract:
- Agreement to work together as a group, to work toward individual and group goals,
- Agreement to give and receive feedback, both positive and negative, about behavior and achievements
- Agreement that everyone will keep the members of the group physically and emotionally safe.
The contract can be oral or written, and should give guidelines for what it means for a group to:
- play hard– provide a challenge
- play safe– build trust
- play fair– avoid physical or emotional pain
The full value contract is most effectively established after a group has had some initial experience together. Group experiences create a context or a need for such a contract. Asking members of any group to agree to laws to guide their behavior before they know anything about one another or the task at hand (before the existence of trust) can decrease the authenticity and usefulness of the contract.
Script for the Teacher
“We are going to ask everyone here to enter into a contract to listen to the safety rules, to follow certain group behavior guidelines, and to help enforce them. Everyone needs to agree that if any of the rules are violated, s/he will speak up. Everyone needs to agree that if he is forgetting a rule, s/he will allow himself to be reminded by other members of the group. To the extent that we follow this, we will be able to carry the experience to a safe and satisfying conclusion. Does everyone agree?”
“We need to act like an ideal family. We’re doing these activities together. We need to be able to relate to each other positively, supporting each other, and allowing ourselves to trust each other. It’s in your self interest! If you are doing something that has a high degree of difficulty, you want to be able to trust the person next to you. The ideal family provides that. I’m not talking about a family that’s always ripping each other apart. I’m talking about a positive family. You can’t tell me that a supportive family is not a good thing! We all want that!”
“That’s why we need to make a contract with each other. Without the contract, we won’t get anything done. Or what we get done will happen only by chance. We need to have some rules to live by. We need to have ways to encourage each other, and bring out the best in one another.”
“How does setting group norms/behavioral expectations affect the willingness/ capacity of folks to work with others productively?”
“What kinds of challenges do we face in cooperative/collaborative problem solving settings in which our
personal interactions are faster and less formal than in conversation or audience set up?”
“What does it mean to play safe, hard, and fair in this community?”
Adapted from the Critical Skills Classroom, Antioch University
Debrief and Reflection (10 mins)
- What? Ask the group “What kinds of challenges do we face in cooperative/collaborative problem solving settings in which our personal interactions are faster and less formal?” This discussion usually leads to a recognition of the different ways people approach a problem and an admission that it can be frustrating to try to make sense of the widely different perspectives that individuals bring to a group. Likely it will also stimulate the students to create guidelines for reducing the “pain of collaboration”.
- So What? Raise the subject of behavior in groups “How does setting group norms/behavioral expectations affect the willingness or ability of people to work productively with others?” This highlights structures/guidelines/ rules to help the group to work and play together safely and productively.
- Now what? Invite the students to look at the informal personal and group agreements they have made with one another as they worked together. Ask them to identify the results of these agreements (sample answers: feeling safe, getting something done, knowing what to expect, feeling like we are making progress, feeling like a team, etc.)