Student ground rules

Valuable Teachers’ Resources
Are you a teacher or aspiring to become one? Are you on the PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector), you will find the following notes useful. You are welcome to read them as resources. Please include correct references.
Author: Elizabeth Elive (Liz Eje)
Institution: Harrow College, London UK, 2014
Updated 2024.

Students – Ground rules
Analyse different ways in which you would establish ground rules with your learners, which underpin behaviour.
Due to the fact that class management is an essential requirement for good teaching outcomes, the establishment of ground rules to underpin behaviour is important. To establish ground rules, I would utilise the following methods:

  1. 1. The Collaborative Method – Teacher works together with the class to set out the rules
    • 2. The Inclusive Model – Teacher proposes rules and the students contribute to the list collectively.
    • 3. Contract: the students set the rules and make a bid with the teacher.

A method whereby the teacher decides to lay the rules, and then impose them without further deal with the class, can be relevant too, but it can generates resentment as the students fail to recognise themselves in the decision-making process. Ground Rules must be relevant to the current group. Factors such as age, commitment to the learning experience, culture, regional differences contribute to a groups’ uniqueness.
My first chosen method of establishing ground rules has been called “Collaborative”. It considers the needs and expectation of both the learners and the teacher. Collective contribution to the rules gives individuals a sense of responsibility and respect for one another others. Here the learners and teacher set out rules which they consider relevant to their specific situation.
This method demonstrated in class, comprised three groups of students, each with a different colour marker. Each wrote down suggested rules on flip charts which were left on the table for other groups to add new ideas onto, in their distinctive marking. The updated lists formed the background from which the final list was drawn.
The teacher’s active participation clarified matters such as why certain rules would be better suited to one group and not to another. The distinction which Francis and Gould (2009) p. 23 make between mandatory rules and negotiable rules came to light. Breaching mandatory rules such as those governing health and safety regulations, can have more drastic consequences than rules that can be negotiated. Every participant had a sense of being part of the decision-making process in a collaborative way in setting up the rules.
The “Inclusive” method chosen is based on the leading role of the teacher. S/he may have some clear ideas of what may be valid for the class before engaging them in adding new ideas. Atherton (2011) noted that, “If you don’t know what you want, how will the students know?”.
The “Contract” model elucidated by TE Editor (2010) is an agreement between the learners and the teacher. Both parties set up rules and each one agrees to fulfil his/her duties if certain conduct is adhered to the other. The signatures indicate the good will of both parties. This method suits a group of people less committed to learning because the teachers’ commitment is an incentive.
Some ground rules I would expect include:
Punctuality and attendance
Respect college rules and health and safety regulations,
Foster equal opportunity
Keep to deadlines
Respect for one another – One person speaking at a time.
Learning about the establishment of ground rules has boosted my confidence in handling class management. I hope to utilise it constructively.



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