Monday, August 09, 2010

Group Work

These past few days I've been in a small town in Texas working with people I don't know very well on a job we all had to get done (not work related) and get done accurately. We would only be together for about 3 days, and we had to get along. Well, we didn't have to get along, but it sure made the time more pleasant if we did. Also, we had jobs to do, and all our jobs depended on other people and other people depended on our jobs. Lots of us were new to our tasks, many had done things before and had set ideas on how to do things, many people had strong personalities or weird personalities or quiet personalities, but we still had to work well together.

So that got me to thinking, "group work" just crops up everywhere in life, and the more we get exposed to it in school and the more there are issues that we have to resolve while we're in our groups and the more troubles that arise, then THE BETTER. If you never have the chance to figure out how to solve "group work" problems early on in school and such, then later on when it's not a choice, you'll have a hard time managing, and you'll be part of the problem.

I'm one of those people that inwardly groan when we're assigned groups in an educational setting and think, "I just want to do it by myself". But now I'm thinking, okay, if "bad" things come up (someone doesn't contribute, someone dominates, someone thinks they can do it better themselves (ahem)...), then this will be my opportunity to think of ways to address problems that may come up. Maybe I won't do it perfectly, but I'll try something out and if it doesn't work, then I'll know to try something else next time. ... Now this all sounds like I think I'm the jewel of the group work and never do ANYTHING wrong (it's hard being so perfect), but I don't think that at all. I guess I'm more along the lines of thinking I have to adjust my attitudes about it and maybe even I'm a thorn in the side of the group and don't know it. Viva la group work!

6 comments:

  1. Group work is appropriate when a task is genuinely large enough that it is more easily done by a group (despite the coordination problems) than by the best worker in the group.

    I have more comments on this in
    http://gasstationwithoutpumps.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/group-work/

    (Blogger is still failing to recognize OpenId, so I can't use the gasstationwithoutpumps id to post this comment.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've always thought that students need to be able to work together, and even if it is not directly related to our curriculum requirements, if our students can enter the workplace with communication and thinking skills, they will much better off.

    In the last few years I've come to realize that I am a strong leader in group situation. Sometimes I lead the group, but other times, I tap into my leadership by being a productive member of the group. This revelation has helped me as I structure group in my own classes and encourage my students to be leaders in their groups.

    As a far away side note, I also believe that when children are playing and they start bickering with each other, the adults should try to stay out of their business most of the time. They are learning to work together.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Kevin ... I know where you're coming from. I dislike group work because it always seems like one poor student ends up doing the work. BUT I've changed my tune now. I as the teacher have to monitor the situation, and have the students reflect on how things are going, and give them the opportunity to experience such "unideal" situations, so that when it comes up later, they have the experience to deal with it.

    HappyChyck ... that's exactly what was in my mind as I was doing "group work" last week. Thanks for putting it into clear and sensible words. We have to learn to "be" together and work things out and have the bad group situations, so we can figure out how to resolve them.

    Ms. Cookie

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love your blog! I personally hate group work unless we divvy up the tasks, but I am certain it is a skill our students need to learn. After a meeting in the "hi-tech" world,years ago, a client told me that I always looked Impatient with people who "got it" more slowly than I did. Oops, poor group work skills!

    ReplyDelete
  6. LadyMath: that's exactly what I'm finding ... I (and others) have to get more practice dealing constructively with various personalities.

    Ms. Cookie

    ReplyDelete