At the start of teaching a new class it is important to discuss and document the class ground rules, as this is a discussion it shows that you all respect one another and value each other’s opinion. Once a list of ground rules has been agreed, document them so that students are aware of what behaviour is expected of them, which will make them feel more comfortable and less likely to be disruptive in class. Some ground rules are not negotiable; these will include health and safety, anti-social behaviour, respect for everyone’s views and beliefs, etc. Others will be negotiable, such as lesson break time or if a seating plan is used, etc.

Some ground rules that are discussed are:

  • Punctuality
  • Not talking while anyone else is talking
  • Phones must be on silent or off
  • No social media websites
  • Raise your hand to speak
  • Respectful behaviour
  • Health and safety
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Equality

These ground rules encourage a safe and supportive learning environment, promoting learning and assisting in obtaining goals. It is also important to show that all students have the same rules which will promote equality within the classroom. If all students comply with the ground rules they are less likely to be disruptive, which may prevent others in the class from learning.

It is essential to challenge any inappropriate behaviour by giving immediate feedback, “the behaviour should not be repeated if negative feedback is given. Giving immediate feedback, whether positive or negative, should enable your learners to behave in a certain way.” (Skinner, 1974)

If appropriate behaviour is not maintained the class will not function in a satisfactory manner, this will result in students being unable to learn, students becoming frustrated, possibly resulting in low attendance and possible health and safety concerns.

Skinner, B., 1974. About Behaviorism. San Fansico: Knopf.

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