Ground Rules in Teaching

Ground rules are a way of describing how a group want to work effectively together. Generally, a list of ground rules is agreed on the first day of class and can be used to form a “contract” between teacher, learners and peers.
Establishing ground rules will provide the group with an understanding of appropriate behaviour and expectations, which can be referred back to and reinforced throughout the course.

“The teacher is responsible for setting, agreeing and adhering to the “ground rules” or boundaries under which both student and teacher operate” Gravells (P7 2008)

There are many different ways in establishing ground rules with a class. However, the size of the group and the time the teacher has with them will impact upon how ground rules are decided and agreed upon.

Three examples on how to set ground rules are:

• The teacher sets the rules and dictates them to the class (Teacher imposed)..

• The class set their own ground rules (Learner imposed)

• The teacher works with the class to establish rules that agreed by everyone. (Negotiated)

The type of learning would dictate how ground rules are set. If a group are meeting for a one off learning session, time would dictate that it would be appropriate for the teacher to set the rules, e.g. switching off mobile phones, respecting others opinions etc.

However, if the course is longer the most effective way of setting ground rules would be through negotiation (teacher and class work together to set the rules). By allowing the learners to be involved in setting the rules empowers the learner and gives them a sense of ownership, they are therefore more likely to adhere to these rules. In addition to this, the teacher also needs input into the ground rules set as they need to establish their own rules which reflect their commitment to the teaching/learning relationship.

Once ground rules have been agreed it is helpful to post the rules somewhere visible to the class. These rules can be...