The teaching profession is one of the most challenging careers in the world today. This is because today’s teachers are faced with a situation where the family culture of respect has been eroded from our community. This has seen a rise in the rate of disrespect among students. It is this increasing number of undisciplined students that teachers have to deal with on a daily basis. Well, I am not trying to say that all the students we have in our schools come from dysfunctional families. On the contrary, I am trying to point out that students greatly differ when it comes to the way they behave and their respect for other students. This calls for the setting of basic ground rules to ensure that respect is maintained both inside and outside the class. This essay explores different ways that I would consider in establishing ground rules among my students. (Silverman 1996).
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Perhaps to understand the subject better, it would be important to define what is meant by ground rules. Ground rules are set rules and boundaries within which to work in my career as a teacher. These rules usually relate to behaviour and respect for other people. In setting the ground rules, it is important to have a group discussion of all the students. This group discussion on the expectations and inclusion of all stakeholders views makes every student feel heard and integrated in setting up the rules. This inclusion ensures that the set ground rules are not only inclusive but that they are independently and communally meaningful. (Bender 2003).
Setting up ground rules may not be as easy as many of us imagine it to be. This is because once one has set up the rules, it would be meaningless not to implement them. Implementing these rules might be hard especially where the students are adults. It is therefore important for one to be careful to avoid cases where there might be a conflict between the students and the teacher especially in a case where the concerned parties are adult learners. In an event where a teacher sets ground rules that the students agree with, we would see students participating in the right course of learning as well as ensuring that the students display the right behaviour and act in a respectful manner toward other students. This is because ground rules not only set a frame for interaction but they also contribute to a learning environment where respect to others is an important part of the learning process. (Dirkx & Prenger 1997)
In order to ensure that the learners do not ignore the ground rules, it is important to ensure that the rules are not negotiable. It is also important to ensure that the students understand clearly the implications of breaking the ground rules. This would be used to deal with students who possess behavioural or attention difficulties. Basically, students like knowing the precincts within which they are allowed to work. (Goodlad & McMannon 2004). As a teacher, it is important to set the ground rules by taking in to consideration many factors. These factors would include things like the age of the targeted group of students, life experiences, talents, principles and the expected outcome of the learning process. Again, this ensures that the ground rules make the students feel at ease and that they are part of the session that they are about to participate in. (Palmer & Scribner 2007)
As I said earlier, setting ground rules largely depends on many things. One of these things is the age of the students. One would not for example expect a college student to be treated as that of an elementary level. Mature students may find it demeaning to follow a given set of rules. This calls a teacher to introduce the ground rules in an informal manner. One way of setting out ground rules for mature students is by putting them in a written and signed form with the students. This would ensure that the learners know what to expect if they break the given rules. (Dana, Yendol-Hoppey & Killion 2008)
Though it is paramount to discuss ground rules with learners, it would be important for me to set my own rules, which would reflect my commitment to the instruction/erudition rapport. The ground rules I would set for myself would involve being fully prepared for my daily lessons. I would also ensure that I set up a schedule that would ensure I start and finish my lessons on time. Another rule that I would set up to ensure that students benefit from their learning would be to ensure that every student gets a chance to air their views when expressing their views in a discussion forum. (Silverman 1996)
Some of the ground rules that I would set on the part of the students would include encouraging every student to be supportive of one another. It would also be important to encourage every student to observe school hours. Others would be to discourage the use of mobile phones in the class environment. It would also be important for me to keep confidentiality something that would ensure that I earn the trust of all the students. This would ensure that I get to know any issues that they might be going through for the right measures to be taken. Since mature students will most likely have commitments in other places, it is always prudent to begin and end sessions on time to give them time to attend to their other duties. It is also good to encourage participation of every student in order to learn the weak points of individual students. It is also important for a teacher to insist that every student should respect the views of every student no matter how weak they are. Another ground rule that can be introduced is to keep personal issues out of the learning session. Alternatively, students should be encouraged to come to the learning sessions well prepared. (Villa, Thousand & Nevin 2008)
Personally, I see ground rules as equally agreed and shared arrangements where the needs of others and their views are valued and esteemed. This creates a safe and deferential space in which all players have a good opportunity to gain from the erudition process. As a teacher, it is important to guide one’s group towards ethics that one would like the group to adhere to in the class. Some of these ground rules would be a culture where the students listen and respect each other. This should not only come from the side of the students but the teachers should take part in observing the ground rules as well. This would make the students more willing to observe those particular rules.
Bender T. Discussion-based online teaching to enhance student learning: theory, practice, and assessment: Stylus Publishing, LLC; 2003.
Dana F, Yendol-Hoppey D & Killion J. The Reflective Educator’s Guide to Professional Development: Coaching Inquiry-Oriented Learning Communities, Ed. Corwin Press; 2008.
Dirkx M & Prenger M. A guide for planning and implementing instruction for adults: a theme-based approach: The Jossey-Bass higher and adult education series, Ed. Jossey-Bass Publishers: the University of Michigan; 1997.
Goodlad I & McMannon J. The teaching career: The series on school reform School Reform, 41, Ed. Teachers College Press; 2004.
Palmer J & Scribner M. The Courage to Teach Guide for Reflection and Renewal, 10th ed. John Wiley and Sons; 2007.
Silverman L. Active learning: 101 strategies to teach any subject, Ed. Allyn and Bacon; 1996.
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Villa A, Thousand S & Nevin I. A Guide to Co-Teaching: Practical Tips for Facilitating Student Learning: Joint Publication, 2nd Ed. Corwin Press; 2008.