Below is a set of ground rules specific to discussions held in class and online.  These are important to remember so that every member of the classroom feels respected and safe when discussing topics that are sometimes personal and powerful.

  1. Listen actively — respect others when they are talking.
  2. Speak from your own experience instead of generalizing (“I” instead of “they,” “we,” and “you”).
  3. Do not be afraid to respectfully challenge one another by asking questions, but refrain from personal attacks — focus on ideas.
  4. Participate to the fullest of your ability — community growth depends on the inclusion of every individual voice.
  5. Instead of invalidating somebody else’s story with your own spin on her or his experience, share your own story and experience.
  6. The goal is not to agree — it is to gain a deeper understanding.
  7. Be conscious of body language and nonverbal responses — they can be as disrespectful as words.

 YOUR TASK:  It is now your job to create any additional class ground rules you may feel necessary. You may also use this opportunity to ask a question about any particular policy and stimulate conversation among your classmates.  If you chose not to add a rule, please be sure to elaborate on one of the rules presented above.  You are encouraged to reply to other’s suggestions about these guidelines for meaningful discussion among one another.




30 thoughts on “Policies

  1. The policies above are straight forward. I do not have anything to add at this time. In regards to policy number 7, “Be conscious of body language and nonverbal responses – they can be as disrespectful as words”. I cannot stress this enough at home to my children. I think it is offensive for someone to roll their eyes or some type of body movement while I am trying to express to a point. However, since my time at citytech, I have not experience such disrespectful interruptions.

    • Thanks for your response. I am pleased to hear that you’ve a had positive and respectful classroom interactions while here at CityTech. Body language is some important to be aware of and I’m please to learn that you’re teaching your children about this type of self-awareness. Way to go!

  2. I love rule number 6! I know I myself was often quick to assume the way I felt about something must be the way everyone felt about it. As an adult learner/student I quickly learned this was not the case. This is something I try to instill in my kids while they are young because having a broader deeper understanding is what its all about.

    • Hi Julie,

      I had the same perception of people as well. However, I quickly learned that everyone have their opinions and we can either agree or disagree as long it’s respectful. Also, I think it is important for children to practice these skills at home. I give my children the respect needed when they are expressing their feelings.

    • I love what you both have to offer as parents and students. These identities are so important and I’m pleased to see that there are lessons to be learned both in an out of the classroom.

  3. Also, I think rule number six of policy is very important to understand. This is because in my opinion I would try to understand the person rather than disagreeing with them completely to what they are trying to say. I would rather listen to them first and hold my opinions if I don’t agree instead of saying what others might dislike it. It is important to understand that we all are here to learn in the classroom.

    • Thanks Hira. I would encourage that rather than silence your voice and avoid speaking up when you feel others may not like what you have to say- you learn to express opposing view points with respect and confidence. If we foster a safe space to share and learn, your points of view can help challenge others and ultimately learn more.

  4. After reading policy #2, I noticed many people, including myself, tend to use those pronouns when making examples. It is natural to me at times, but I agree that everyone should speak from their own perspective. Also, I think “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” should be added to policy #3; just to really emphasize that everyone should respect each other’s opinions.

    • Thanks Adonis. I think the “golden rule” is important to emphasize here as well. We often tend to use language in ways that we don’t notice over time, and unfortunately generalizations can become habit. I hope that we can learn and build from the conversations and unique perspective that we have in class (online as well).

  5. In my personal opinion, communication is a very meaningful ability to develop either in matter of family, friends, at the workplace or persuading other to convince them your point is a valid one etc. In the point # 4 I am totally agree by participating and communicating your own ideas, I personally, when i do so i gain understanding and i also transmit my point of view and a sense of confidence.

    • Thanks for your feedback. I hope to create a safe environment so that all of us can gain confidence in our own experiences and share them with others so that we can learn about the content in the course on a deeper level.

  6. I feel that the above policies can also be applied to other encounters as well. Not limited to classroom communication, they can help foster one’s professional growth by equipping a student with listening skills, empathy, hard work and professionalism. I am glad that these are enforced as a foundation in a class that would tackle topics that could generate diverse opinions.

    • Thanks Jane. These approaches to diverse interactions, I feel, are invaluable. I am pleased that you can see the utility in them outside of the classroom! They also are to be applied to your written work for this course as well, and I hope that is something you will enjoy when composing written responses.

  7. I would like to further elaborate on rule number 1.

    Listen actively- in doing this I feel it is very important to allow one to express themselves and not cut someone off when there are speaking. We might not always agree as stated above but it is necessary to wait until whomever is speaking before someone else says something. It is not polite to interrupt someone as some people react to that differently. Example, if someone feels constantly that they are not able to express themselves without being interrupted then they might feels as though what they have to say is not important and might just not contribute to any discussions.

    • Thanks for your comment Venice. This is something that as an instructor I am constantly working on. In some instances I find myself needing to interrupt people for the sake of time, or to stay on track. It is a weird power dynamic issue: sure I’m the professor and need to stay on track and lead the discussion, but I’m also not perfect and sometimes I interrupt people because I want my point to be heard. I am always self-reflecting on that, and I am glad to read that you’ll continue to support our class’s effort to do them same.

  8. I believe all the polices from above are straight to the point. After reading policy number #2, I believe this such an important rule, especially in a diverse class. We all come different backgrounds and different life stories, so we should all respect personal experiences. When it comes to are own experiences, we never know who can relate, that is why it is so important to talk from are own perspective and let the person or classmate come in the conversation if it relates to them. As well it brings the class more together and a more understanding towards one another.

  9. I have created additional class ground rules.

    1. Everyone has the option to pass in a discussion.
    2. All questions are good questions.
    3. Use correct terminology.
    4. Respecting the confidentiality of other students.

  10. In regards to number five, I agree with saying no to “invalidating somebody else’s story” but I also believe it is possible to use an experience a family member (mom, dad, etc) or friend have gone through in order to validate a point of view. There are certain things I have not gone through but someone close to me has and it tends to affect me as well, sometimes their feelings are my feelings too.

  11. I love Rule number 3. The reason why I like rule number 3 so much because from pass experience listening to other people stories and asking a few questions I have learned so much. There is nothing wrong with a healthy debate on a topic. What people do need to be mindful of when you know you are talking about a certain topic that might be sensitive is the tone of your voice and body language when asking the question. You do not want to come across as if you are trying to change the person opinion or be disrespectful.

  12. This policy strives to create an environment where students learn from each other through the sharing of ideas and experiences. Any academic environment that fosters peer to peer learning is the optimal setting for growth. Remaining respectful and openminded while sharing ones own views and deep seeded value can be challenging but I look forward to it.

  13. All of the rules are excellent and straight forward. The two that really stood out to me were #3 and #7. I should be able to express my ideas on a topic differently than what another person sees a concept. I shouldn’t feel like I shouldn’t disagree because I might be wrong. I should be comfortable to share my views on things. Also #7, is great because there is always a student who loves to share or answer and talk more than others. At times I’m that person. I wouldn’t want to feel like my surrounding is annoyed by me which will hold me back from bringing out who I really am.

  14. I find rule number 3 as a significant one in terms of learning as long as it is done on a respectful way. Debating has always been about discussing and expounding ideas in order to make a progress rather than worrying about winning and losing. As for rule number 1, Interruptions happen all the time, everyday. People interrupt people. People even interrupt themselves (with phone calls, text messages…). Sometimes people interrupt for good reasons (like asking for clarification) but often it’s just a bad habit!

  15. I believe that the most important rules are #1 and #7 because showing respect towards others is essential to receive the same kind of respect. I think that one of a nonverbal gesture that shows the most respect is making eye contact. When someone speaks, looking elsewhere shows that you are not listening politely to the speaker. It is important to the speaker that eye contact assures that he/she is receiving the attention that he/she deserves when speaking.

  16. All the rules look pretty solid for not just a classroom environment but also everyday rules. These rules can be used every where you go. That said, I’d like to discuss about rule number 2. What if you’ve only heard about those “experiences” from for example, your friends and you can only speak from what you’ve heard and not necessarily what you’ve experienced. Will that be okay?

  17. Rules 1 and 6 stand out to me the most. Listening actively to each other and respecting others in the class is very important because I would want others to listen to me if i were speaking up in class. For rule number 6 I think its important keep an open mind and to know that not everyone is going to agree with something.

  18. Policy number 2 is something that I need to focus on because although I might not say it out loud, I tend to generalize other people’s situation real quick. Overall following the policies will enable students to maintain a healthy and respectful class environment.

  19. Overall, all these rules are very understandable and easy to follow. I think these rules are good as it is, and we may add more in the future depending on how the class go. One of the rule I really like is rule #6 “The goal is not to agree — it is to gain a deeper understanding.” i really agree with this rule because i think people will be able to learn more if we all have a deep understanding about others. I believe everyone will have a different view in life, if they were to walk in someone else shoes even once. That will change everyone perspective and gain a deeper understanding of one another.

  20. I believe all the rules here are fare and more than reasonable. They only thing I would like to add is if you need to answer a call just make sure to go into the hallway and answer the call instead of answering it in class. Anything could happen at anytime of the day so being able to get in contact with your loved one is all the more important. That is the only thing I would say we should mind moving forward but I do not really see being a problem as it has become common practice.

  21. Anika Raihan on February 3, 2016 at 10:02 pm said:
    I agree with all the policies and I really like the 2nd policy “2.Speak from your own experience instead of generalizing (“I” instead of “they,” “we,” and “you”).”
    Because a person can not speak for someone else, and when they speak from their perspective, it becomes more relatable and honest.
    I also want to add that maybe electronics shouldn’t be allowed in the class unless it’s related to what we are discussing in class and if its an emergency.

  22. I think all the rules are fair, but if I have to choose the one I like the most, the 4th rule would be it. Just agreeing to whatever someone says doesn’t exactly mean you agree with every little detail, and giving your own opinion wouldn’t hurt. If someone doesn’t speak up, their ideas never be expressed.

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