Ground rules

Establishing ground rules of communication in the classroom

Establishing ground rules

A necessary feature for successful classroom dialogue is that the class agrees upon a set of ground rules for talk, which will encourage effective, reasoned, exploratory talk. It is important that the students feel a sense of ownership of the rules.

If you haven’t already watched it, Video 3 in our collection of introductory video resources offers further information on how ground rules can create a supportive classroom culture for dialogue.

When using ground rules in your setting, briefly introduce the concept of ground rules as basic rules to which everyone agrees. Use examples such as school rules or rules for a sport. Then, give your students the task of establishing specific ground rules for talk. The whole group should agree on the set of ground rules for talk.


After ground rules are established they can be supported by:

  • Negotiating target dialogic practices or goals for the lesson.
  • Students being given or assuming responsibility for managing dialogue.
  • Students being involved in monitoring or evaluating its effectiveness.

Further resources and activities to try:

Talk about talk

A first step towards more dialogic teaching

Talking points

Thought provoking statements to support rich discussions

Classroom planning tips to encourage dialogue

Planning tips to encourage classroom talk

Steps in developing a dialogic ethos

A guide to developing a classroom ethos that promotes dialogue

Promoting dialogic interactions

Requirements and activities for effective group work

Introductory video series

Collections of videos regarding educational dialogue