Ptlls - Establishing Ground Rules

Generally speaking ground rules are there to set the conditions for working and learning in a group effectively and respectfully. Other than the rules which are predetermined by an institution such as a college,   ground rules open up the possibility to be developed, discussed and decided upon within the group of learners under the guidance of the teacher or as Yvonne Hillier describes it in her book Reflective Teaching in Further and Adult Education it is a kind of contract that is ‘a negotiated agreement which identifies what is expected of each individual in the group”

Apart from common rules that concern general behaviour for instance in a discussion etc. further rules can vary from group to group depending on circumstances and age. For my group of learners for instance which will be a group of first year Fine Art BA students it is important to also establish rules which cover the aspects of working together in a shared studio space. In any case it is important to make the students aware of the principle of ‘the golden rule’ to properly function as a group and to make equal learning possible.

There are several ways to establish ground rules. After explaining the concept of ground rules to the students one possibility is to first let the group come up with ideas for rules either individually or in teamwork and then discuss their usefulness, pros and cons together with the aim to agree on them – or not – mutually and democratically. To initiate the brainstorming and discussion on the ground rules in the first place the teacher could also give concrete examples of ground rules or suggest topics that should be covered..
Of course the teacher should function as a moderator in the discussion to make sure that no essential ground rule is missed out and that every student gets the chance to contribute but I believe the more the teacher holds himself back, passes the responsibility on to the students and lets them explore the subject by themselves the more will...