In order for me to create and maintain a safe, congenial learning environment I believe it is paramount that ground rules, which establish expected behaviours, are accepted and adhered to by the whole group. Ground rules foster mutual respect which will encourage learners to contribute to the sessions and make mistakes without fear of derision. This in turn will allow learners to feel comfortable and their views valued.
Although the dynamics of every group of learners is different, I consider it is essential that clear boundaries should always be set at the start of each course, whether disruptive behaviour is anticipated or not. Additionally, it is undoubtedly much easier to determine the ???limits??? at the outset rather than trying to introduce rules later on once control and perhaps respect has been lost permanently.
It is vitally important to establish a set of ground rules when meeting with a new set of students. The ground rules that will be set will form the backbone of respect and discipline to form and gel the group with their teacher and each other. The rules must be clear, fair to all (including the teacher !) and adhered to by everyone.
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The three main ways of establishing ground rules are :
1 The teacher setting their own
2 The students setting their own
3 The teacher and students setting them together
There are advantages and disadvantages to all the above methods, the main ones being, if the teacher sets the ground rules they may suit the teacher more than the student, whereas if the students make the ground rules it could achieve the opposite effect. However, if the students are allowed to set their own ground rules they may take ownership of them and will be more likely to adhere to them.
Adult learners are generally attending classes voluntarily, more motivated to learn, have more self-discipline than children and are not usually disruptive.
In light of the above, it would appear more effective to use the third method 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 sort out !
When considering the views of everyone, always bear in mind that the adult learners are not children and will not tolerate being treated as such but whilst also remembering that students like routine and without ground rules disruption can occur.
Having ground rules gives a firm boundary for all students to work within.