Dimond Students, Staff Establish Social Contracts

Staff and students in the Anchorage School District have been involved for weeks in creating social contracts for every class.

Social contracts are a new way of helping students realize the rules and behaviors they should be following that they thought of themselves. 

Social contracts started appearing in schools this year because of a program called Capturing Kids’ Hearts, according to Dimond High School’s principal Tina Johnson-Harris.

Johnson-Harris said, “Capturing Kids’ Hearts is a district-wide initiative.” 

“The goal of the initiative is to build positive relationships with students, build social, emotional learning skills, improve student performance and decrease negative behavior,” Johnson-Harris said.

She said, “The social contract is an element of CKHs which is an agreement of how we will treat each other.” 

“Ultimately, we should begin to see an increase in attendance, an increase in engagement in negative behavior,” Johnson-Harris said.

There are some mixed feelings on what people think about social contracts.

Johnson-Harris said, “Social contracts are excellent for any group. It sets the tone for conduct and interactions during meetings and daily activities.”

To start doing social contracts in classes, Johnson-Harris said, “All teachers developed a social contract for each class.”

Johnson-Harris said,“Each social contract should be unique to the students within the class.”

Johnson-Harris also said, “Students developed these social contracts based on what they believe and value to be important to positive interactions and resolving problems within the classroom.”

Assistant principal of student services Chris Kleckner also has an opinion on the concept. 

Kleckner said, “There is a program for teachers called Capturing Kids Hearts which is a built community that establishes respect.”

Kleckner is in favor of establishing the social contracts. “I like them because it is a great opportunity for everyone to speak how they want to be treated and how it is a great opportunity to work together.”

Kleckner said, “Teachers had to training in August for 16 hours to talk together about social contracts in their opinions.

“Social contracts were used years ago for people who had a hard time in class, then the Doctors of Philosophy realized they could use it in schools for students opinions on how they want to be treated,” said Kleckner.

Kleckner said, “Social contracts are like a multicultural approach based on personal feelings.”

Students do not have to train like teachers for social contracts, but they do have to do them in every classroom.

Cylena Snow, a sophomore at Dimond High School said, “I feel that social contracts are helping me a little bit because it is making me think more before I act and reminding me how I should treat others.”

Students have many different points of view when talking about social contract.

Snow said, “Students already know the rules we wrote on the contracts are rules they should be following. It is up to the students to listen to or obey the social contracts that are hung up all around the school.” 

Snow said,“In my first period Honors World History class, if we say something rude to somebody then, we have to say two compliments. So these contracts are used in one of my classes.”

Snow thinks, “Contracts are to remind people how they should treat their teachers and peers because there are a lot of conflicts in high school when students do not know how to act properly.”

Mariah Tadgerson, a freshman at Dimond High School, has a different point of view then some other students. 

Tadgerson said, “I do not understand the point of social contracts because it just influences people to break them more if they keep getting reminded of it, especially those who want to stand out in the class.”

Tadgerson said,“If I made the contracts I would have changed the way they are presenting it to people. So instead of asking students opinions, I would come up with something and see if they would agree.”

 In my opinion, I believe that students have already learned the rules of respecting their teachers and classmates in elementary school. 

I understand the reason we have these contracts are to remind us of what is right and what is wrong. 

If I was the one who made the social contracts, I would have done it once at a school assembly instead of doing it over and over again in every classroom.