SIDS Program Manual Trainer's Guide SIDS & Infant Death Program Manual and Trainer's Guide

Appendix C

Getting Started

Create Ground Rules

Ground rules, also called group norms, are guidelines that help create a safe environment and enable tasks to be accomplished efficiently. Examples of ground rules include:

  • Honor everyone’s input regardless of educational degrees, professional or community status, or personal experiences with the topic.
  • Value each person’s unique opinions and perspectives.
  • Agree to disagree, but do so respectfully.
  • Speak one-at-a-time.
  • Allow each person time to talk.
  • Start and end on time. Come back from breaks promptly.
  • Keep personal comments said during the training confidential.
  • Support those who may have anxiety talking about emotionally difficult topics.
  • Step outside your comfort zone.
  • Speak for yourself, not other people. Use I statements rather than everybody or other people.
  • Take charge of your own learning. Take breaks when you feel necessary or ask for clarification.
  • Have fun even though the topic is a serious one.
  • Ask questions.
  • Feel free to pass when discussing a certain topic.

It is preferable for a training group to develop their own ground rules that reflect what is important for them to feel safe. However, if there is limited time, the trainer can suggest a set of ground rules and then ask the group for any additional ones.

For example, in professional audiences, it may be important to add the ground rule to put all cell phones and pagers on vibrate or turn them off. The trainer should address any participant concerns about the ground rules and then ask for people to follow these throughout the training. Tape the list of ground rules on the wall so all participants can see them. Refer to them if necessary during the training.