Teacher: Where do you guys stand so far? Has anyone posted and completed it? Nice job.
Narrator: Contract is a very important tool because we find that if you don’t have any norms to come back to, there’s no ground to stand on where you’re trying to adjust the problem, other than people’s personal perspectives.
Teacher: I don’t feel like we could implement that.
Narrator: We start at the beginning of the year with students creating classroom-wide norms, and then every time they get a new team, they create team norms. That’s right down the detail that if someone’s absent, what can you expect from them, as far as communication? Do you expect them to respond to emails? In what time period? Whatever it is, there needs to be a means of communication. They also, in their contract, determine how they’re gonna make decisions, whether by consensus or majority vote or some other system. They need to agree on all of these parameters.
Student: I’ll make the Google iFolder.
Student: Using the contract is something that is really hard to do in the beginning, and holding people accountable is very hard to do when you first come to Tech Valley. It’s something that you’re not used to doing. You don’t have to at a traditional school. It’s all about me and my grade needs to be good. As soon as you get here, the first thing you do is you get thrown into a group, and all of a sudden, you have to worry about yourself and two to three other people. As problems arise and you adjust them through the contract, usually it’s on a warning system, so you don’t do your work one day, you get a warning.
Narrator: After three warnings, they’re actually fired from the team. They have to complete the project on their own. Students are motivated not to get fired because it’s very daunting to do a four-person project by yourself.
Teacher: Are you guys all set with your deadlines?
Narrator: We do support them in asking the question. When they’re issuing a warning, well, why did that happen? What could the team do to support that person in the future so that breakdown of communication or accountability doesn’t repeat itself.