Seminar teaching: Ground rules for group activity
You might want to think about formalising your own expectations about seminars. It can be advantageous to establish ‘ground rules’ at the first session. These are particularly important in groups where some degree of personal exposure is experienced (e.g. in creative writing classes). We are open-minded as to whether it is necessary to establish formal ground rules with all kinds of seminar or class, but offer the following list to help focus your own thinking about what you see as acceptable or unacceptable behaviour. If you do decide to establish ground rules, remember that they need to be discussed or negotiated with the group, rather than simply presented by your fiat. Rules that have been established with seminar groups include:
- the seminar begins on time: we won’t wait for latecomers;
- everyone is expected to do their share of preparation and bring the required texts / copies to the class;
- if you can’t attend, let the tutor know – in advance if possible;
- rudeness and personal comments are unacceptable;
- everyone bears some share of the responsibility for making this seminar a success.
OK, you may feel it is over the top to spell these things out in public. But if so, it is worth asking yourself what you yourself are willing to tolerate, and how you intend to deal with infractions of your own limits ….