An explanation of how to establish ground rules with learners to promote respect for other i.e. how to make it learner led and how to negotiate it with examples provided

Ground rules are used to set limitations, share responsibility and promote appropriate behaviours amongst learners. ‘Ground rules are boundaries, rules and conditions within which learners can safely work and learn (Gravells - 2012:91) which should promote team working, inclusion and generate   discussion from the learners.

Some ground rules can be negotiated and others are non-negotiable for example no smoking is a non negotiable ground rule due to Health and Safety Law and fire procedures whereas other ground rules for example consuming food can be negotiated so it becomes an acceptable ground rule which all learner agree to adhere to.  

The best way to establish ground rules is through negotiation, negotiation is key to engaging learners as this encourages participation, reinforces learning and promotes inclusion. The Carousel method can be used to facilitate the setting of ground rules, this method is a co-operative, thought gathering activity where students work in small groups using flip chart paper   and coloured maker pens to share ideas and make suggestions as to what ground rule are important to each group.   The groups then have the opportunity to assess the other group’s ground rules and agree to them or not.   This method encourages learners to “take ownership of and hopefully follow the rules” (Gravells – 2012), this way they are more likely to respect and abide by them.   It can also act as an ice breaker, assist the learners to get to know each other and reduces any possible anxiety. The agreed ground rules can be kept on display throughout the course as a reminder and referred to periodically.

It is important to consider how much involvement the teacher has in assisting the learners in setting the ground rules.   Part of the teacher’s role is to help clarify the ground...