Why do teachers insist on assigning group work? So kids learn how to work together? So they learn how to be responsible? So they learn how to communicate? Well, as a teacher I can say it’s all of the above and more. And whether you’re inside or outside of school, group work really never ends. When my students aren’t engaged in the classroom, they are busy on the field. Wednesdays and Saturdays are big game days here, and since spring has [finally] sprung, I make an effort to support my students during regular practices and home games. During the girl’s varsity lacrosse practice, the girls worked on effective communication [read teamwork] on the field. From the sidelines, all I could make out was “ball, ball, ball…I got ball…I got right…I got left…motion to cycle,” and from someone who knows very little [if anything] about lacrosse, I was pretty lost until I realized how lost those players would be if they weren’t communicating with each other. Their communication and ability to work together is essential to their sport. It is, after all, one of the many reasons that led them to a major win.
Similar to lessons learned from most sports and classroom assignments, being a team player does not end once you’ve graduated. In fact, it’s quite the opposite—it’s only just beginning. In life, you’re always learning how to improve various life skills—always pushing and pulling or giving and getting ideas, strategies, and overall exchanges in an effort to have a positive outcome. But being a team player is not easy, and for many, it doesn’t come naturally. Typically, you can spot the same type of people in a group: a leader who delegates responsibilities, a slacker who takes credit for the assignment but does nothing, a follower who does everything he or she is told, and the do-it-all person who does e-ve-ry-thing. Now we all know those aren’t the only type of group players, but I’m sure we recognize a few of them. Perhaps we’ve been at least one of them, and maybe there was (or will be) a time when we’re even slackers, doing the bare minimum—if anything—and succeeding because of someone else’s hard work. Regardless of your past role in groups, where do you see your future self and how can you get there? At the end of the day, you want to be a team player: a balance between a leader and a follower willing to effectively communicate, compromise, and coach. And how do you do that? Well this next installment of Kermit Says… will teach you how to do just that!