Establishing ground rules with learners.
Establishing ground rules with learners is probably the most important element of delivering any teaching to a group of students. It not only benefits the tutor by being able to get information across without interruption and within given timescales, but also the learners and how they are able to receive information during any given session.
I think an informal discussion should be used at the start of the lesson and during this time explain to the students the rules that must be adhered to, such as emergency procedures, fire exits and smoking policy. This way it removes the dictatorial approach you may be perceived to have, which ultimately could have a negative effect on the dynamics between yourself and the group.
During this time explain the need for ground rules and the benefits to be had by having them in place, such as prompt or even slightly earlier finishing times, or simply being able to fit more course content in to a session, which would benefit everyone involved.
I would then show them a list of rules on a whiteboard or any other medium I had at my disposal, but ensure each rule was introduced individually, again to counter the effect of negativity between myself and the group, offering each rule up for discussion, tailoring it to suit individual needs within the group.
I would then ask the group if they feel they could add to this list in anyway, encouraging participation from all members, but at the same time trying to keep it as light hearted as possible as well as emphasising the need to respect each other’s points of view.
Finally, once the group and I were happy and in agreement with the ‘newly’ formed rules I would print these onto handout’s and have them ready for the next session, which the learners could keep with them for the duration of the course.