Utilize classroom creeds for student agency and respect

One of the most critical shifts in education can and should be giving students the power to empower one another. Developing a class creed can be done at the beginning of any term, and you won’t regret it.

All too often, our syllabi represent one voice–our own. If you stretch that slightly, it also represents your department, school, college, and/or university. Who it doesn’t represent are the students we serve. The first, and possibly the best, place to make the students central is in our expectations. We have them, but so do they. I still identify mine in the syllabus because that is important, but on the first day of class, I express that my expectations are mine and mine alone. Therefore, we spend time as a class creating a classroom creed.

To do this, I first ask students to list what they feel has made classes rewarding. I then ask them to list what is most helpful in a class, especially what could help them be the most successful.

I then break students into small groups and allow them to share what they came up with. Have the small groups make a second set of lists that includes what the group has decided makes a class both rewarding and helpful.

Now, discuss those lists as a whole group. As the instructor, just listen and write down what students are saying. Let them discuss what they need out of the class and out of one another to create a happy and healthy classroom environment.

After class, I compiled what students shared into a list. I then send it to the students and ask that it be their required reading for the next class. Their chore is deciding what is essential for us to abide by and what is simply a wish.

When students come to the next class session, we compile our class creed and then post it to our course LMS. I also send a copy to students to keep on their computers and print a copy that they can keep in their notebooks. We’ve identified this creed as the most important rule we must abide by in class. These CLASS expectations represent what we’ve decided will make our classroom space the most rewarding and helpful environment possible.

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