Establishing ground rules is one of the first activities of classroom and team building. Ground rules are guidelines created by the team group/class/group and facilitate an atmosphere of open communication. A climate of trust and comfort is essential for candid discussion. These ground rules are the standard for behavior by which all agree to operate while in the group.
- to increase communication
- to increase risk-taking
- to increase productivity
- to increase effectiveness
- They should be established as one of the first orders of business and remain in effect through all team meetings-changed only as a group decision.
- Try reviewing ground rules before:
- class discussion
- working in cooperative groups or teams
- class meetings
- lab activities
- field trips
- attending an assembly
What do they look like?
- everyone participates
- listen to each other in a environment of respect and acceptance
- stay on topic
- what is said here, stays here
- only one person speaks at a time (no side conversations)
- take turns
- attack problems not people
- agree to disagree
- treat others as you want to be treated.
no more than 4 or 5
How? Steps for Creating Ground Rules
Ask yourself: What do I, as an individual, need to think about to ensure a safe environment to discuss possibly difficult and/or controversial issues.
Discuss what ground rules will be necessary in order to accomplish the goals and expectations for the year/activity.
The group leader/teacher/facilitator leads a brainstorming session regarding ways to get everyone’s ideas.
Tools used include: Brainstorming, Affinity Diagram, Nominal Group Technique (NGT).
- Brainstorm: Group members write their suggestions on a card/post-it. When all have finished – either share individually or group in an affinity diagram.
- Affinity Diagram: Group like items – Each student shares his/her ideas and a classroom affinity diagram is made which combine like ideas.
- Nominal Group Technique: Once the Affinity Diagram has been constructed, the NGT tool is used to narrow down the ideas to the “critical few”.
- Consensus: All students need to be able to “support” the ground rules. Consensus is achieved through discussion.
- Discuss the ground rules and have each student sign them. Post them publicly in the classroom and refer to them each morning.
- Continue to discuss how the ground rules will help the class achieve the agreed upon goals and mission statement.
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