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Establishing Community Norms

The Importance of Community Norms

Jen Cort

Community norms are a set of agreements informing member behavior and rooted in community values, beliefs, interests. Establishing norms creates a reciprocal relationship between the individual and the classroom community as well as the classroom, the school, and broader society.

Developing Community Norms:

  • Identify community values, mission and/or vision

  • Define the non-negotiables

  • Articulate goals

  • Prioritize needs

  • Ensure inclusivity

  • Consider the role of technology

  • Reach consensus (in the sense that not everyone has to agree with all norms but must be able to support and live with all of them)

  • Create safe and judgment-free agreements

Suggested Community Norms:

  • Be engaged, limit known distractors

  • Communicate directly, clearly and with respect

  • Use active and reflective listening

  • Speak for yourself

  • Allow time and space for all members of the group to share opinions

  • Lean into brave spaces, allowing yourself to be challenged

  • Recognize the contributions, efforts, and participation of all

  • Put challenges in the middle of the table for consideration by all

  • Ensure confidentiality of words, images, gifts, discord

  • Utilize conflict resolution skills

  • Allow yourself to fumble with ideas, concepts, behaviors

  • Engage with mistakes as learning opportunities

  • Be comfortable with silence:

  • Ask for a gathered silence

  • Ask for a reflective silence with the conversation gets too heated

  • State that you do not know how to interpret the silence

  • Remind the group that silence can be interpreted for agreement to observe silence as a loud means of communication

  • Convey the confusion when silence is the answer to a question

  • Request an empathy-based approach to silence in digital communications

  • Ensure an evaluation process and adjust norms as needed


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