If you’re a Shakespeare buff, you’ll know that I stole that title from Fintan O’Toole (his title was ‘Shakespeare is hard, but so is life’ – great book!) … so take points off me for theft, but at least I acknowledged my source.
OK, so let’s be honest here: the most difficult part of PBL is managing teams. It’s SO hard! After almost three years of tireless devotion to this very trying (and inspiring) pedagogy, I’m still crap at managing teams! It’s true! Sometimes I just get really sad for those hard-working students who have to deal with dodgy team-mates. You know what I mean … we’ve all seen it and we’ve all been it – the kid that carries the load cos the others are too lazy or silly to do anything for themselves. It’s just not cool and it’s just not right. It is, however (I believe), a key part of the PBL experience. ‘What? Is she crazy?’ you ask. Nope. I just think that it’s a normal part of working on projects with others and it’s something that MUST be openly discussed in class. After all, if we don’t talk about what’s hard and work through our problems, how can we learn?
So that’s what I did today with Year 9. As you probably know, I spent the last 5 weeks galavanting around the glorious United States and as such, I was absent from class. Sadly, I missed my Year 9 students’ end of project exhibition. The teacher relieving me explained that some teams worked exceptionally well, whilst others were bitterly disappointed with their exhibition stalls – and the latter all cited poor team-work as a contributing factor. Now I’ll admit that this was not a surprise to me. Some students find it very hard to stay focused and give 100% when working in a team but I don’t think there is any excuse for not getting better at team-work. So, today we had a chat about what it means to be a great team-member.
In small teams, students created a draft rubric for being a great team-member. I gave them the headings ‘awesome’, ‘OK’ and ‘crap’ … they were responsible for listing 4-5 qualities of an ‘awesome’, ‘OK’ and ‘crap’ team-member. After ten minutes of brainstorming & recording, each team shared their ideas with the class & we negotiated a complete rubric. I was really pleased with their honesty and good humour during this task – some students were happy to adopt the title of ‘crap’ team-member.
You can see the end product of their work below, it’s still rough (I’ll make it a polished copy for the classroom project wall) but they happily agreed to use this rubric to self and peer assess team-work during our current project. I told them I’ll be using it to assess them each week as well … and there will be consequences for being identified as ‘crap’.