Educators may find it useful to co-create classroom community agreements with students in their class at the start of the Healthy Living unit to help in establishing a safe and inclusive environment, in which participants can feel comfortable participating and learning. This agreement can also serve as a starting point for dealing with any conflict that may arise.
Ask students to brainstorm a list of rules and behavirours they think will set them up for success with the Healthy Living unit. Write these on a flip chart or board. Feel free to add any important rules that students may have omitted. These behaviours and/or individual rules may be agreed upon by a show of hands or student signatures. Once consensus has been reached these become the classroom community agreements. Keep the agreements visible during all sessions, and refer to it as needed. Students and the educator may add to this agreement throughout the unit.
In order to identify individual and class needs, you may wish to ask students questions such as the following:
- How can you help to make this space comfortable for others and help everyone be successful?
- What do you need from this space to be comfortable and to help you contribute and succeed?
Examples of items to include in the agreement:
- Confidentiality when sharing (This is a good opportunity for educators to remind students of their “duty to report” and describe how disclosures will be handled with compassion and sensitivity.)
- Respect for others’ values, beliefs, ideas (Comment on the idea not the person.)
- Try new things!
- A safeword for someone to use when they feel uncomfortable (e.g., pineapple)
When a student decides to share personal information with you.
- Do believe them.
- Do tell them that it’s not their fault. Nobody invites harassment.
- Do support them. The coping strategies this student is using have helped them to survive.
- Do refer to experts in the community (including your administrator) who are able to assist further.
- Do not react with disbelief, disgust, or anger at what they tell you.
- Do not downplay or diminish what they tell you. (e.g., “It’s not a big deal”)
- Do not do or say nothing.
- Do not give advice. (e.g., “If I were you, I’d...” “You have to tell your mother what happened...”)
Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres. URL : http://www.sexualassaultsupport.ca/disclosures