Establishing Ground Rules With Your Learners

In my current role as a Trainer/Assessor, I work with Apprentices delivering theory and NVQ’s. To achieve respect and appropriate behaviour from learners, clear boundaries and rules are required within which we can work, and it is paramount that these are prepared early so everyone knows the limits. Ann Gravells (2008) defines: “All learners require boundaries and rules within which to work. Setting ground rules will help everyone know their limits”. As all students are different, consequently they will all have their own unique way of looking at life.
Teachers need to manage their classes in order to accommodate everyone’s needs and expectations. The College will have policies regarding Health and Safety which will be non-negotiable. Some rules such as no smoking in the classroom will be accepted by everyone as this is backed up by legislation. Other rules such as no drinks in the classroom will not be so generally acceptable, especially to those who consider themselves as responsible adults who have rushed from work to get to college and need refreshments. There are numerous ways to determine ground rules with learners.
When teaching I will prepare a timetable for the learners to receive beforehand with the place and time they will start and what they must bring with them. I arrive early so I can organise the room and set out resources. I will welcome learners and then go through some housekeeping (where the toilets and emergency exits are). I then establish ground rules that I feel appropriate, i. e. be punctual, mobile phones on silent and respect others. I next ask the learners what rules they want and this will give them ownership of these rules.

I would also refer them to the College Learners Handbook, ‘The way we do things round here’ (see page 5) and the Teacher and Learner contract (copy attached). The resulting ground rules form the backbone of both respect and discipline and help the group and myself bond and start a healthy student/teacher relationship. If a ground rule is broken, it is the other students that will point it out and this enforces group discipline. Bibliography Gravells, A. (2008) Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector, 3rd Edition, Exeter, Learning Matters Ltd. p7.

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