Social Contract in the Library

Hi friends!

I feel like I haven’t spent much time with you lately. The beginning of the year has been so hectic. We have a new principal, so I’ve had to stop and ask permission at times when I would have normally gone full speed ahead.

Anyway…our new principal is a believer in The Flippen Group’s Capturing Kids’ Hearts philosophy. The main idea is to create a caring atmosphere on campus. One of the ways we do that is by creating social contracts with the students, not classroom rules dictated by the teacher.

So, at the beginning of my library orientation sessions with third, fourth, and fifth grades, I had them write down on a half sheet of paper how they thought we should behave in the library, to make it a great place to learn and read. I only allowed a couple of minutes, and we didn’t have time to discuss their ideas. It was really a bare bones version of the social contract, but with over 900 students, that’s the best I could do.

This weekend, I read all of the responses, and sorted them into stacks of similar statements. Except for a few, all of the suggestions fell into these four categories: whisper or be quiet; walk, don’t run; treat the books right; and treat other people right.

So, next week, when I meet with all of these classes again, I will share the expectations that we created TOGETHER. I’ve made a poster, and we’ll refer back to it all year when we discuss behavior issues.

I think that our social contract will have a positive effect on library behavior.  And, as Pete the Cat would say, it’s all good.

But here’s what really amazed me. Although the students were in third, fourth, and fifth grades, they came up with 27 ways to spell QUIET! In addition to the ONE correct way!

Here’s how they spelled it:

  1. qit
  2. quit
  3. qiet
  4. quiat
  5. quitie
  6. quite
  7. cwit
  8. queat
  9. quet
  10. qiuet
  11. quiete
  12. qiuit
  13. queit
  14. qite
  15. cqiyit
  16. quett
  17. cwiet
  18. cuiet
  19. qieut
  20. quiget
  21. qwiyet
  22. qute
  23. ciet
  24. qinyt
  25. qwiyit
  26. qiut
  27. cuoiet
Oh. My. Goodness. 
If you are currently working in education, then I don’t have to tell you why our students spell like this, do I? Spelling is not tested. On the big test that counts for everything. I’m trying not to rant here, but reading these student notes makes me sad.  *sigh*
Ok, rant’s over. I’ll let you know how it goes with our social contract. This is my first time to try this approach.
Do any of you use Capturing Kids’ Hearts? I’d love to hear more about it!

  • Cari Signature

    Similar Posts


    1. I do not have a social contract because I also have a large student body. I like your idea of combining similar suggestions across the population instead of one per class. I do shake hands with every student when they enter (also a CKH component) and I ask 3 Good Things at the beginning of every class. I do not have a standard closure but I do stand at the door and say goodbye. Since I have begun my abbriged version of CKH I feel as though I have had much fewer discipline problems and I have bonded with my students more.

      1. Ann M., thanks for your comment. It’s good to hear that CKH really does have a positive impact. This is my first time to try it. Sometimes it’s a challenge to adapt programs designed for the classroom into the library setting, isn’t it?

    2. I know what you mean and it’s not only spelling but handwriting also! Kids can not write especially in cursive! Like you said if it’s not on the test we don’t teach it although it’s an important part of their future life! 31 years of education can you tell I have had enough of the testing thing!

      1. Sheila,
        It’s sad, isn’t it? I don’t think spell check on the computer can compensate for the complete lack of spelling instruction. I’m so glad the politicians who have no education experience can legislate better schools, said no teacher, ever.
        We’ll keep on trying, right?

    3. I’ve been through CKH as well. It kind of sounds like you’re being expected to implement without the training, which can be challenging. I agree with Ann-I love sharing Good News at the beginning of each class. I keep track of who has shared on my seating chart and make sure to call on different students each time. It’s a great way to build relationships with students. Those who don’t share are always invited to find me during checkout to tell me their good news.

      With the Social Contract….synthesizing is a fantastic strategy, but you may wish to investigate the construction of it further. The four prompts to write one are “How do you want to be treated by me?” “How do you think I want to be treated by you?” “How do you treat each other?” and “How do we treat each other when we have a conflict?” It becomes a great tool for the teaching and social interactions in the library and less about the procedural rules that are followed. It’s also a contract between you and the students so you follow the same rules.

      The third part that I found easy to implement in the library are the questions for handling issues. Just starting with “What are you doing?” and asking the question rather than jumping to conclusions and assuming gives students the benefit of the doubt and takes the emotion out of discipline issues for me.

      1. Carolyn,
        Thanks so much for your thorough comment. I didn’t even know there were specific question prompts for the social contract.
        I will try asking for good news at checkout–that’s a super idea!
        Are there any books I could read about CKH? When I looked online, all I saw was the 3-day training. I would love to learn more about this! We did get just a mile-high overview of it from our new principal. I”m glad to hear that it really works!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.