Setting ground rules within the classroom forms a good basis in which to start to teach and therefore should be done early on in the course. It will help establish boundaries and rules for both learners and teachers to work within. If a group decide their own ground rules they are more likely to keep to them. As adults it is given that we can arrive at a set of ground rules that are sensible and respectful of each other, unlike a child at school when rules are set for us and must be adhered to.
A way of establishing a set of ground rules could be to split the learners up into smaller groups and have them to discus and list a number of ground rules that they think should be included. Then each group can put forward their results as well as listen to the ideas from the other groups before deciding on a final set of ground rules.
Examples of ground rules that may be set are:
* To arrive on time
* To turn off mobile phones
* No eating during a lesson
* Be courteous to the tutor and other learners
* Break times
Another difference between adult and child learners is that as adults, for example, we may have to keep in touch with our family or business during lesson times. In this case a phone call would be taken outside the classroom. The class would appreciate this and respect is given both ways.
It is important however that not all ground rules can be set by the learners. Some rules set by the organising body or building management must not be over ruled. For example, health and safety rules like the use of protective clothing and safety glasses in a laboratory or fire evacuation procedures cannot be changed. As a result a balance between the democratic and the organising body set of ground rules is required.