Creating School Rules, as a Community

This week, we started the school year, by engaging students in the creation of rules for this school year. Engaging students in rule-making helps them to enter a community and feel like they have equal stakes in how the community functions. It also allows them to voice their concerns, wishes and ideas about the kind of classroom communities they want to live in for the school year.

To begin this process, each classroom sat down and had a conversation about what rules we should all live by. Despite age differences, it was remarkable how similar the classrooms were in what they came up with. Everyone talked about fairness, safety, respect, and treating others as they’d like to be treated.

Each classroom then brought their rules to an all-school meeting. We noticed how much the rule sets have in common. Together, students, teachers, and the head of school worked on combining them into a set of all-school rules. As we did this, we found ourselves noticing that some specific and concrete rules, such as “Say nice things to people,” could fit into bigger rules, such as following the golden rule. At the end of the process, we had rules that we can all agree with. We also talked about why we want these rules and decided that it was so we can learn and also have fun at school. The students decided to add this onto our rule set.

Here are the Chicago Friends School 2016–2017 School Rules

  • Follow the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you would like to be treated
  • Help each other
  • Be safe and keep others safe
  • Be quiet and respectful towards others
  • Be fair

… So we can learn and have fun.

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Karen Carney

is the head of school. Karen’s career demonstrates a rich and diverse set of skills: project oversight, curriculum development, educator training and mentoring, and classroom instruction. Prior to coming to Chicago Friends School, she worked as a senior specialist in science curriculum for American Institutes for Research. Before this, she oversaw educational programming at the Adler Planetarium, first as its director of education and then as associate vice president for visitor experience and learning. She has also worked in instruction and teacher development at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Learning Sciences Research Institute and has authored more than 20 scholarly papers, book chapters, and conference presentations.

Karen is an active, dedicated Friend (Quaker) and has held various leadership positions at the Evanston Friends Meeting. She enjoys baking, cooking, and painting and is a member of the Playmation improv comedy team.

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