How to establish ground rules in adult education

Many adults may be scared, stressed, or anxious when they decide to continue their education. Whether it is a weeklong seminar or a night class at a community college, establishing ground rules early on in the first class or session will provide adults with the structure they need to get the most benefit from their continuing education material. A classroom or meeting hall should be filled with mutual respect, which encompasses many of the other fundamentals that need to be established.

Speak to them as adults. One of the principal things to remember is that this is a room of adults, not college, high school, or elementary students. Speaking to the room of adults as colleagues and working professionals will help them feel more at ease and that they are in a continued learning atmosphere.

Provide mutual respect. Mutual respect is a key point to remember when facilitating adult education. If you project respect to others in the room, then they will be respectful towards you. Do not "talk down" to them- it will insult their intelligence. Explain material in a way they will understand without belittling the students. Additionally, explaining your credentials and why you are qualified to teach the material will help the students respect your teaching methods.

Maintain deadlines. Because these are adults, they should know how to stay on deadlines. For assignments, group activities, and breaks, be sure to establish strict deadlines and stick to them. Adults do not need the same kind of leeway that teenagers and children do. They should be able to manage their time efficiently to meet your demands.

Be strict on timeliness. Explain from the beginning of the class and seminar that you will begin and end on time. Those in smaller classes that are extremely late may face participation penalties for the day. Participants can only learn the material when they are present and ready to learn in class.

Provide fair treatment. If you happen to know students from other activities and functions, it is important to stress that you will treat every student equally. You must also establish that professional experience and standing may not matter once you step into the classroom. Those who have been in their professional field for ten years or more will be treated the same as those who only have a year or so of professional experience.

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