Creating Community Agreements


At PS 37 Multiple Intelligence School in the Bronx, Teaching Artists Keri Bertino and Saraevelyn Lowitz are leading the second grade class in a residency focused on theatre and creative writing. The residency will weave creative elements like metaphor, sound creation, and word meaning together to explore community, interconnectedness, culture, and collaboration. But first, they began with classroom culture, in order to set the tone of the residency. 

On the first day of the residency, Keri and Sara created Class Argeements and Rules with their class. Many of these rules included ideas around giving respect and including everyone in the community.

They used the spider and the web to display their community agreements not only because the class is reading Charlotte’s Web, but also because of the metaphor of a spider weaving a community using positive language. The Teaching Artists explained to the students that the web represents the community and the art that they make, and they can’t spin the web without all of the agreements (listening, respect, one mic, risk taking, culture, appreciation, encouragement, and helping others).

When the TAs presented the web to the class, they reviewed the spider’s agreements and had them write their names in the web, so that they could solidify their active participation in creating a climate of mutual respect and creative learning. Through this representation of classroom norms, the students have explored creative thinking and citizenship as well as emotional intelligence by exploring the needs of how to make a safe and brave space to express oneself.

“I am proud of this work because I think it is a creative way to present class norms instead of just words on chart paper, and it really made the ideas come to life for the students.” – Teaching Artist Saraevelyn Lowitz