Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Group Anxiety

Sometimes I look at the work our girls are doing in second grade and wonder when items like PowerPoint presentations became standard fare.  This month, the girls are working on a team report about dangerous weather.  Everything from tornadoes to blizzards to typhoons are being researched and documented.

The blond twin seems to be working with a pretty good group.  They have some typical second grade problems, but overall they seem to be working at a reasonable pace and all doing their jobs.

The brunette twin is having a different experience.  The way she tells the stories, she's the only one really working in her group.  The other two spend their time playing and not doing their parts of the project.  She finally asked me what she should do.  I said, "What do you think you should do?''

She said, "Do it myself. I don't want to get a bad grade."

I told her she was not going to do it by herself.  The other two were not going to get credit for her hard work.

When I taught college English classes, I used to tell my students that if they had any problems within their group, they needed to tell me before the final presentation/paper. Once they completed their presentation and turned in their final paper, everyone received the same grade.  If they talked to me throughout the process, I could help them work out the problems -- even if it meant reducing an individual's grade for lack of participation. 

We talked about what she should tell her teacher and what she should expect from the other students.  She was going to start by outlining who was going to do what part so she could explain to her teacher what was done and the specific parts the other two were not doing.

I feel badly for her.  In my mind, I always hope their school experiences will be positive.  This one is causing her great anxiety.  The reality is this will probably help her more than the blond twin's experience will help her. 

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