How I would establish ground rules for learners would depend on age and experience of the learning group.
I would expect an older and more experienced group of learners to be more mature and establish ground rules based on how they would expect people to behave in a group-learning environment, for example a popular mantra is “treat others how you would expect to be treat yourself”.
Ground rules provides a structure for people who may be nervous about returning to an educational environment, as they know what to expect and what is expected from them.
Treating the group as adults, and respecting their opinions would be a personal ground rule. However, some ground rules may need flexibility. For example, learners with vocal Tourette syndrome would be excused from using industrial language during outbursts.
As a teacher, I would ask the group to contribute to the rules. This can be used following an ice breaking session, allowing the students to grow within the group by providing their thoughts, and discussing some rules which may not be as popular as others. This, according to Gravells, in “Preparing to teach in the lifelong learning sector” (2008) is believed to be one of the best ways of establishing the rules, and preventing future class disruption. If any rule were not unanimous, a vote amongst the learning group would decide on inclusion or omission.
Unfortunately, some rules will be forced upon the group, e.g. health and safety, and these should be made known prior to the ground rule discussion, so the group can consider them. Another would be punctuality. This is important as disruption from one group member could taint the learning environment for all.