Setting norms is an essential instructional practice to set the tone in any classroom. I'm not referring to just the 4 R's, or the over simplified Be Kind, Be a good listener. These are general rules of human beings, but also do not get to the root of what we expect to see or hear in the classroom. Kindness to one student may not mean the same thing to another.
Norm setting also is not something that should be done just at the beginning of the year, put into poster form, signed by all, and hung up to collect dust - never to be heard from again. Norm setting (and reinforcing) is an on-going task, not just by the teacher, but by the students.
In this module, you'll gain strategies and nuggets for thought about what this can and should look like in your own classroom. Putting purposeful plans in motion to develop these throughout the school year and amend them as you go.
Take a look at your own current norms in your classroom. These may take on the appearance as Classroom Rules, Non-negotiables, Student Contract, Norms, etc. Do some thinking about you have read, and watch the videos below to consider the trade-offs of norms. Begin establishing your own thoughts around:
Student v. Teacher v. Co- Created Norms: Who should be generating these norms? Is it a mix of methods or just one method? Consider student buy-in, belonging, and being culturally sensitive to the norming process.
Descriptive detail: Do students know what this looks like and sounds like? Could it mean different things to different students? Is it concrete enough to hold them accountable?
Accountability: Are there consequences? Who is holding students accountable for these norms? Do you truly follow those norms as well?
Application: Are norms generic for all time in this class? In this grade level? In this school? Are the norms more specific based on the activity or task?
Number: Does the list go on and on? Are there few enough that students could explain or teach someone new the norms of this class?
Messaging: What message do your norms send to students? Is it a "what I say goes?" Do they promote voices in the room and sharing ideas? Are they focused more on safety?
Consider the following areas as you may "shop" for norms:
- safety - belonging - voices in the room - acceptance of failure - growth mindset - accountability - connecting with others - classroom community - scientific evidence
Having read and watched more about the Setting Norms. There are a lot of different approaches you may choose to take as you plan (remember this work should take at least an hour)
A - Responding to your current classroom: Take a look at your classroom, just observe a discussion or a lab or other activity. First, what type of activity is it. Are students adhering to the norms in place? Are there behaviors you'd like to correct, that norms may help with? As you observe, make note of any time students aren't doing what you would envision or should be happening within the SEP. Begin fine tuning your best vision of what norms might be for that activity.
B - Activity focused: Having done a deeper dive into the SEPs, you may consider taking what you've learned and envisioning what norms might look like for that specific practice. What norms should be in place for engaging in argumentation? What about developing models? Norms for analyzing data? Begin drafting what these might LOOK like and SOUND like for a productive application of the practice. Norms are a great way to support students in knowing what to do or say. Are there common norms that are in multiple lists? Those may surface to be classroom norms, rather than practice/activity specific.
Note: I am not promoting you to look online and just pull a list of norms from a site or a pretty poster. Really give it some thought, knowing your kids, knowing your teaching style, and your classroom, how can you provide norms for students to be successful.
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Many of these questions demonstrate your planning, reflecting, and sharing.
REFLECT + SHARE
It is so important for you to really think about how this has impacted your classroom. What shifts are you making, or hoping to make to start off on the right foot with classroom norms? How will you hold students accountable? How will they hold each other accountable?
REFLECT: Take some time to reflect and think about what worked well in your classroom this year, what were some pain points that you'd like to improve and classroom norms may help.
SHARE: Sometimes consistency can be key! Is this something you can share with your science team or department? Are there any norms that you want to be common place in science in your school? Depending on your approach with student or co-created norming, this is a good conversation to have with your team.
Of course, feel free to reach out for support, I'd be happy to work through it with you.