Monday, September 3, 2012

Protocols for Decision Making

Allowing students to be involved in decision making in the classroom helps increase student engagement, encourages students to take more ownership of the decisions that are made, embeds students' perspectives in the classroom, and fosters a sense of respect amongst students and teachers.  When we involve students in the decision-making process, there are some basic protocols that can be used to facilitate this structure.  

The three primary protocols we use in our classroom are:

  • Thumbs up, thumbs down:  This is as simple as it sounds!  When we are at the point of making a decision, we ask the students to give us a thumbs up if they agree, or a thumbs down if they disagree.  When students give a thumbs down, we stop and have the students explain their view.  We continue the discussion until we all come to agreement.  Every child must share their opinion by giving a thumbs up or a thumbs down.
  • Fist of Five:  The Fist of Five is basically a spectrum of how you feel about a decision.  So, if you are in total agreement with it, you hold up a five.  If you are in complete disagreement with it, you hold up a fist.  A four means you feel good about the decision, a three means you can live with it, a two means you don't feel great about it, and a one means you just don't like it.  We continue the discussion about the decision if we have any ones or fists.   Again, every student must share their opinion by showing a fist, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5.
  • Traditional Voting:  While we definitely favor coming to consensus on decisions, we also understand that voting is part of the real world, so we do use it to help us with decision making as well.  We generally reserve this protocol for less important topics, such as making decisions for single events.  (i.e. What day we will eat lunch in the room?  What will the theme of our spring fundraiser be?)
Involving students in the decision making that goes on in the room can have an extremely positive effect on student achievement, student engagement, and classroom climate/culture.  Using these simple protocols can help facilitate the decision-making process, as well as ensure all the students' voices are heard!

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