Establish and Enforce Group Norms
Allow your students to generate, agree to, and hold each other accountable to, their own norms.
Since conversations about race can be difficult and divisive, establish some agreements before you begin the conversation. Allow your students to generate, agree to, and hold each other accountable to, their own norms. Display these agreements and refer back to them, as needed. Decide upfront on the goals and parameters of the conversation — what you are and are not going to address.
Example group norms are: honoring confidentiality, using “I” statements instead of “You” statements, focusing on actions and impacts rather than assumptions and intentions, participating fully but evenly, deeply listening, allowing disagreement, appreciating feedback instead of getting defensive, and always respecting each other.
Learning and using restorative justice practices, such as peace circles, can also be helpful for addressing harm or conflict. These practices can help bring real issues to the surface while also fostering healthy communication, conflict resolution and relationships.
In This Section:
- Create a Welcoming Classroom and School
- Root Out Biases and Barriers
- Encourage Self-Expression
- Be Open Yourself
- Engage, Don’t Avoid
- Create Opportunities for Discussion
- Talk About Racism and Racial Equity
- Establish and Enforce Group Norms
- Process is as Important as Content
- Model Your Values and Vision
Download the Full Resource Guide:This comprehensive NEA resource guide includes tools & resources for talking about race, conducting racial equity assessments, strategic planning, ideas for capacity building and action, FAQs, and a directory of web pages, documents and allied organizations focused on racial justice in education.
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“Creating the Space to Talk About Race in Your School” content on this web site and in our "Racial Justice in Education" resource guide © 2017 National Education Association, in collaboration with Race Forward.