If you want to know how to create a group agreement, this youth work session plan is for you! Creating a youth group agreement works best when you can effectively help young people make informed decisions.
- Flipchart, large paper, white board, computer w/ projector or chalk board (depending on your resources available)
- Markers, pens or chalk (depending on which item you choose as your first resource)
Steps to Creating a Group Agreement
- Ask if any of the youth know what a group agreement or youth contract might be. Have them give their ideas and then explain that this is the governing document for youth behavior within the group. It will determine what sort of behavior is acceptable or unacceptable during group sessions.
- Explain clearly to the group what you are looking for from their input. This will depend greatly on how much youth participation you or your organization is ready for. For example, do you only want them to give ideas on what is included in the group agreement? Do they get the final say on all items? Do you get to add some items (like zero-tolerance policy issues*) yourself that can’t be vetoed? Figure out what your ideal is and what the boundaries are and communicate that clearly to the group.
- Have the youth create a list of ideas for what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior within the group.You can do this in a few ways using the resources listed above:
- They can create a list on their own and present it to you, or they could break into smaller groups and have them present their lists to each other
- Create a list together. You can list all the items suggested and then review them at the end, picking and choosing what should be included in the group agreement
- Facilitate a discussion. You can explore the pros and cons of each item as they’re suggested and only put ideas that are group consensus on the list. Review the list and make it a list of ‘YESs’ instead of ‘NOs’ to help keep group morale and participation positive
- Make sure that when you set the expectations at the beginning, you mention if there are any ‘zero-tolerance issues’* that will automatically go on the list. However, still take the time to explore with the group why these might be good things to include and how they might benefit the youth.
- Confirm all the items on the list with the group. Explore any remaining issues or concerns.
- Have everyone within the group sign the agreement.
- Hang it in your meeting room. If you move around or use a shared room, just take it down at the end of each session and hang it up at the beginning of each session. This is where having flipchart or other large paper can be really useful. If you only have access to a chalkboard or whiteboard, consider writing the list down or taking a picture of it, and then producing a large paper copy for the group to sign and display during sessions. If you only have a computer, print it off when you get a chance, have the group sign it and display it. Displaying the agreement is an important tool for managing youth behavior. It helps the youth remember what they agreed to and they can refer to it easily. They can also self-correct as a group when the agreement is accessible to everyone.
*A zero-tolerance policy means that if any of these items are brought to group, or if these actions happen during group, there is automatic exclusion from the group as a consequence.
You can get the forming stage of your youth group’s development off to the right start by coupling today’s youth work session plan idea with these other ideas – Hopes and Fears, Mat Turn, Human Knot and Ball Name Game – to create a good ‘getting to know you’ first session for any youth group.
If you’ve found this session plan helpful, you may like our other youth work session plans.
Question: Have you created a group agreement before? Do you have any steps you would add to this process? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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