To create a comfortable and effective learning environment, an icebreaker at the start of the course can encourage learners to communicate and work openly and honestly. This can be achieved by splitting the learners into pairs and asking questions to find out about each other, include a fun question to keep everyone relaxed. Learners are likely to feel more at ease talking to the group about their partner, so after 10-15 minutes ask them to share what they have learnt.
An effective way to establish ground rules is achieved by splitting the learners into small groups and asking them to come up with their own ideas. Working in small groups will allow for discussions to take place giving everyone an opportunity to offer their suggestions. The idea is to encourage everyone to contribute and to avoid imposing rules. The groups can then feed their suggestions back to the centre and all learners can agree on the final ground rules, an example rule is ‘be polite and courteous to others’. By allowing the learners to contribute, discuss and agree to follow the ground rules, they take ownership of these rules.
The context and the delivery of the ground rules will vary depending on the group of learners. In some training sessions ground rules may not be necessary, however in other sessions it may be required to go further and establish the actions to take should ground rules be broken. Once agreed, the ground rules can be displayed on a flip chart or a poster on the wall or discussed at the start of each session. This will act as a reminder ensuring the learners work within the agreed boundaries.