Monday, October 03, 2005

Our Class Contract

Below is the contract my two classes struggled to find by discussing their hopes and fears. I have two awesome groups of people with whom I am lucky enough to serve as a guide on their journey to their own voice.

Class Contract
We would like criticism to be constructive. We would like to think that we can support each other and help each other grow as writers.

For these reasons, we will all to agree that:

1. We will leave judgement at the door of this classroom. We recognise that everyone has a right to their opinion and should be free to express that opinion to the best of their ability. “If we silence one of us, then we have silenced ourselves.”

2. We will focus our comments on craft rather than content.

3. The work being presented to this group is a work-in-progress. If it’s a masterpiece, then it doesn’t belong here, it belongs in a submissions pile somewhere.

4. We will treat each other gently and with respect.

5. We will be honest with each other, but we will find ways of doing it which help, support and stimulate reflection.

6. We will be specific with our comments rather than general. We will try to use the following phrases to discuss each other’s work.

A. What worked for me is.....
the meter
the rhythm
this character interested me
the description of the setting
these phrases or word combinations.

B. The place where I became very engaged with this piece was...

C. Help me understand why you chose or why you need...
this word or phrase.
this paragraph here.
to break your line here rather than here.
this character to do or not do X, Y, Z
anything else you don’t understand.
D. I am unclear
about the setting of the piece,
about your character’s motivation for doing X
the intent of the poem
about what you are trying to communicate.
anything else which makes you ask questions.

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