Ground Rules in the Classroom
“No group can work successfully without rules that govern interactions and behaviour” (Minton 2005). Ground rules in a classroom depends largely on the type and the length of the course and the ages, ability and life experiences of the group being taught. Ground rules need to be set out at the beginning of a course to establish what is expected from the learners in terms of behaviour and mutual respect of fellow learners and the teacher.
A good tool to use to implement these rules would be an “ice breaker” whereby the teacher would ask the learners to write down their own ideas of the perfect learning environment for them; for example, a brainstorming activity. The learners could then share their ideas with their peers and through a general consensus come up with a list of rules they wish to implement in their classroom. The teacher would make the rules manageable, tailoring the rules according to the needs of the learners and so giving the learners ownership of their own rules. The teacher would support, motivate, encourage and persuade the learners.
Adult learners will usually feel resentful and alienated if a teacher takes a command and control approach in their style of teaching. Behaviour and respect are mutually interlinked. Good teacher/learner relationships and peer relationships are based on mutual respect. The learner respects the teacher for their teaching skills, personal qualities, knowledge and professionalism and the teacher respects the learner as an individual and their attempts to learn. All rules underpin behaviour and respect for others as respect and behaviour are mutually inclusive. Overt behaviour comes from respect.