We have often heard adages like ‘Two heads are better than one” and “The more the merrier”. How does this apply to the processes of teaching and learning at schools? Let’s find out.
Working in teams from an early age provides a strong brick to one’s foundation to be able to cope with work-life later on. Educators have recognized this and they have adopted team projects and tasks as a means to learn and grow at schools. Cooperation, mutual respect, collaborative team work and trust in other’s abilities are all major aspects of personality development that youngsters can learn at a young age in groups.
The issue at hand is not whether working in groups is beneficial or not. There may be negligible arguments against its favor. The issue is that how can the most effective groups be created so that no child feels deprived or obstructed.
Here are some thoughts:
One would assume that creating a group where there is a heady mix of students with varying abilities is the ideal formula. However, this may not always work. For example, there may be assignments where there is not enough scope for work of different abilities. The layer of better able students might overshadow the average ones, thus not giving them a chance to shine at all. Instead, if groups are created as per similar abilities of children, weaker groups can be given more time and attention from teachers.
Teachers are often able to pick up cues on groups sharing common skills and interests in a class. The students themselves may not realize this, as they like to ‘hang out’ with their circle of friends specifically. Assigning group projects to cliques with similar interests can help build new bonds and heighten the ability to learn from one another.
Skill To Be Learnt-Wise Grouping
Often, group assignments try to focus on a skill that the educators want the children in a class to imbibe. Instead of generalizing, why not split the class into groups with assignments that will teach each group a specific skill; the skill that the teacher has identified for that group of students. It may be presentation skills, communication skills, time management skills or any other. The crux of the matter here is that specificity brings efficiency to the table, in disseminating learning and learning itself.
Some assignments or group projects may involve meeting after school hours. If the project is not completely online, it’s best to crosscheck proximity to one another so meeting is convenient.
This method teaches a very important principle that will help each child in its life sometime. The fact that you cannot always choose whom you want to work with or deal with in life. If the project is short and not too specific in its deliverable, this technique is worth a shot. The groups may be unsettled at first but when they see no option around it, they will settle down. The teacher can set some behavior expectations from the very start to ease the process.
Varying Methods Of Grouping
Pattern creates complacency. It’s very crucial for teachers to keep stirring the class and not settle into a particular form of grouping for team assignments. While choosing a suitable method of grouping, first have the end in mind. What skill do you want the students to pick up from this project? Then work towards selecting the appropriate method of grouping.
Schoolkart believes that groups provide a ‘real world’ experience as later on, these students will go onto become working professionals working on team assignments.
Teachers must remember that there are is no magic formula to achieve the goals one started out with. However, with some years of experience and maturity, you will be able to understand what works well and what does not based on the mix in your class. It’s wise to give different styles a chance and wait to see what the results are. Group dynamics is a very important lesson for each child and the earlier it is taught, the better.