Creating ground rules at the beginning of a learning session has been part of my practice since the beginning of my career and this task provided valuable space and time to go back to basics and revisit why I do this.
I reflected on the fact that a collaborative approach to creating a set of ‘ground rules’ immediately sets a tone of mutuality, empowerment and it places a value on student voice and participation.
Group ground rules create an environment in which learners feel safe to share views, enter into discussions and challenge or be challenged. This is possible because the ground rules have explored the expectations of behavior and attitude and the group has cooperatively agreed these.
I understand that a group agreement creates an environment in which learners will learn more effectively.
On further reflection I can see that this concept would be further supported by Maslow’s hierarchy of need in which he describes the way we are motivated (or limited) by 5 levels of ‘need’.
Rung 2 of these levels is the need for ‘Safety’ and Maslow describes this as our need for protection, order, limits and stability.
“The creating of norms or expectations or rules is a natural part of group dynamics. Learners need to feel a sense of structure and will feel psychologically safer if they know what is expected of them”
I learnt the applicability of creating group ground rules to the theories of group dynamics explored by Tuckman 1955. Tuckman describes the way a group will form-norm and storm.
“Forming happens when people first come together. They are initially polite and the conversation is mostly exploratory, finding out about one another and the work that is to be done…Managing the 'form' stage is best done by introducing people to one another and ensuring the quiet ones are drawn out and not left out. Rituals may be used to introduce people and get them engaged”...