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  • Derek Stoppels

I know they hate group work, but...

Updated: May 3, 2019

I really believe it's an insanely important skill! I've challenged my a number of classes by asking them:

"Name me one job where you don't actually have to interact with anyone ever."

And no one can. The point of the story is that at some point in your life, you are going to have to work with someone else. Whether anyone likes it or not. I do my best to make sure that every student is marked individually and I don't give out group marks, but I understand it is still a challenge. One of the OCDSB Exit Outcome Skills is "Collaboration" and in my mind this is one skill that is going to get my students the farthest...furthest?


Working with someone who doesn't pull their own weight? I've been on both sides of that coin. I've done all the work, and I've dropped the ball entirely. Neither situation is especially enjoyable for students, but it is a challenge I believe students need to work through. I try to make my science class a safe space to develop these skills. In a nutshell, if a student isn't quick to join a group and gets stuck with some less motivated students, they may have to do a lot if not all of the work. But I like to think, "here's an opportunity to develop some leadership skills!" Or, maybe next time, that student steps out of their comfort zone a little sooner and joins a group that is more in tune with their own work ethics and expectations.


Or maybe one of your friends and group members isn't pulling their weight. You think they're good people, but maybe not doing the best work for the group. How are you going to respond, how do you get your group mate to step up? Or do you leave them in the dust?


Either case means extra work. But as I have mentioned to my students, just because it is group work, doesn't mean you have to share all your work with them. If you don't think the work that they have done is up to your standards, while I know it's more work, you can hand in work that IS. Or if you find that your group mates is not doing any work and you have to do it all, don't share it with them. Again, both cases might involve some awkward conversations, but, these are skills that I believe are essential. Personally, I have never, or can't think of a time, that I've worked perfectly with all of the other group members. Some challenges are harder to over come than others, and sometimes we can agree on something in a short period of time, but I don't think every team agrees on everything all the time.


It's important to me to give my students opportunities to work through difficult situations in my class, because as mentioned, I like to think my classroom is a safe place to work through them.


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