Ground Rules

Basic ground rules can be implemented in various ways. How I would achieve this depends on certain factors about the group, such as; ages, life experiences, abilities, values and expectations of the training.

Organisations may have formal policies already set. Alternatively the tutor may set them before hand, or the group establishes their own rules and the reasoning behind them, through discussion. Ensuring all understand and agree. This can then be written as an unofficial contract, a poster for the wall or a handout. This allows learners ownership of the rules, resulting in them being adhered to.

If tutor-led, rules should be stated verbally or provided on a handout or slide, with the opportunity for learners to respond, add more and negotiate the ‘rules’. Rules set by the tutor can be very relevant and perceptive, and save on valuable time, being based on previous experience or prior knowledge of the course being taught. The main problem with tutor-set rules is that the students may not fully buy into them.

Pre-set ground rules that are not necessarily negotiable may be used due to the specifics of a client group (people with behavioural or attention difficulties). Recognising important issues such as possible literacy / learning difficulties is crucial. A trainer may not always know this about the group beforehand.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each method. It would appear more effective to use all three methods so both teacher and students have an opportunity to put their views forward.   Once all views have been considered, a fair and useable set of rules to suit everyone can be produced.   A disadvantage to this method may be that it takes a little longer to agree.

It is advisable to determine rules at the outset rather than trying to introduce them later on. I would re-visit ground rules at regular intervals, and revise or add to them if necessary.