Tomorrow I have to go into my Intermediate Writing class and face my group. Right now that class is causing me to lose hair but it's an interesting learning model that we're following: We've been meeting in groups for the whole semester now, centering all of our writing on one specific world issue. Over the past twelve weeks our group has become friends, worked long hours on Google docs having way too much fun with emoticons, adopted a new member into our group family, but now, we stress about our final project. Actually I only know that I stress, communication in our group has become limited. Through the combination of unpreparedness, the common cold (and the fear of proximity that comes with it), and the fear of providing criticism, our group has reached a lull in productivity.
Today however, I read some readings that have been provided me by an Instructor. They spoke about the benefits of group work, and the elements necessary to create effective group work. I realized that my teacher is doing everything right. She's given us specific expectations and provided structure for us, thus reducing the margin of error and putting accomplishment directly within our sights. She's given us an interesting, challenging project with room for everyone's talents and contributions (we're creating a group website to present our semester's creations in a compelling multimedia format). She's even kept herself close as a readily available resource for direction, mediation, and even encouragement. How did it all come to this? I could try and give you the reasons why, but I want to focus on solutions.
I tried to blame others but in the end, all I can productively think about is: "What can I do to help fix the problem?" Well today I decided to work on the website, and for some reason that helped a lot. I was invigorated by the forward momentum, and pleased with the small creative decisions that I made. Tomorrow I have determined to address all issues that are pressing, and to take responsibility and facilitate progress within our group. I am impassioned by the promised fruits of collaborative work: "...the collaborative method allows students to develop audience awareness, to check their perceptions of reality, to strengthen their interpersonal skills, and to take risks" (Bishop, 344). It is also suggested that the collaborative method or group method of learning strengthens creative abilities as well, which I'm all for.
If you'd like to check out our group website to be educated on the issue and realities of homelessness as well as on it's foremost solutions, click here: www.fightinghomelessness.weebly.com
This post includes paraphrasements of ideas taken from "Let Them Write--Together" by Lisa Ede and Andrea Lunsford and from "Teaching Lives: Essays and Stories" by Wendy Bishop.