I've been thinking a lot about group projects.
Back in episode 25, Chrissy Spencer introduced us to the CATME team maker and other group project tools. I also recently became aware of Babson's group project survival guide, which offers students many tools to set a solid foundation for their work, not to mention resources for when they run into trouble.
While I've been thinking a lot about what to incorporate, my actions have been limited (read non-existent) in making any changes.
I keep succumbing to the faulty logic that if I introduce just the right set of tools to students, that they won't have as difficult of a time working on group projects. If I can tweak the processes I use just a bit more, I'll identify a magic combination of approaches that will make everything run smoothly.
I've been getting discouraged, thinking that I'm in my tenth year of teaching and when it comes to group projects, it might as well be my first.
Then I settle myself down a bit and revisit letters and emails from former students. A friend had once advised me to have a folder in my filing cabinet where I keep words of encouragement to serve as fuel for the days in teaching when I find I have little left to give.
When I look at those letters, they remind me that it is the very messiness that I attempt to remove from the process of group projects that enabled these individuals to learn the most.
The struggles students encounter that they so very much want me to save them from will have the most value if I don't step in. My desire to be helpful and supportive has the potential for blocking opportunities for deep learning to occur.
I keep wanting to make things seamless. When my mind realizes the impossibility of that, I lose all motivation to make the ongoing changes I've been considering.
Nevertheless, this semester I plan on using the CATME team charter, instead of the one I've been using. Also, after the students select their groups, there will be a place for teams to post agendas and minutes each week inside our LMS, using the CATME agenda and minutes template.
Then, I'll remain confident that it is going to get messy.
And messiness isn't always such a bad thing…