Although your final grade in a class may not be a group grade, that doesn’t mean that you have to go through a class alone. Hollywood has done a great job of destroying the concept of “teamwork”. Even in movies where there is a team doing something great, there is always that one character who could save the world without the team–and the producers do all that they can to prove this point. Lord of the Rings, however, proved that if you attempt to overcome a unified obstacle on your own, that you can and will lose it all.
If the journey through a class feels like the journey through the land of Mordor, then you should form your own Fellowship of the Ring–a small but effective group of individuals dedicated to a singular goal: success. One reason why students do not want to take advantage of this free and effective method is for the same reasons that I had when I was battling through the academic hordes:
(a) Accountability: I have always been a busy person. My entire life has been fll of opportunities and adventure. In order to have a lifestyle like that, I have had to be in as much control of my personal schedule as possible. When you work with a group, you lose some of that autonomy and that can be a challenge to some. When working with a group, you need to define from the beginning how often you are going to meet, your methods of communication, and locations for the purpose of meeting. If you are open and honest about these three things in the beginning, then you will save yourself alot of drama. Oh, and if you don’t want to socialize, please keep in mind that the others who do will become a bit more connected with one another than with you. So try not to be offended. Just be honest and understanding if that is not the route that you choose to take.
(b) Work Pace and Work Effort: When I work by myself, no matter how little I do is still an accomplishment because my work is not be measured beside anyone elses’. But when I work with a group and we agree that we will finish 25% of the work tonight when I really want to quit after 5%, then I begin to have a problem. There is really not excuse as to why you can’t do 25% of the work tonight with 5 people in your group if you could do 5% of it by yourself with little or no effort at all. Make sure that your group is open and honest about HOW MUCH work that they would like to complete at each meeting. Some group members are slave drivers, some are procrastinators, and some are poor planners. Which leads me to the last thing…
(c) Leadership: I am a leader by gift and trade, so I take leadership seriously. I also hate poor, broken, abusive, and weak leadership…so if I recognize this in a group, then I more likely to separate from that group. Be very mindful of the leadership style of a group. If your grade is more important than the personality of the leader, then simply suck it up and acknowledge the fact that you only have to endure this jerk-face for a few weeks. They don’t sign your paycheck, nor do they sign the bottom of your degree so in the long-run they aren’t that serious. Maybe YOU need to be the one to stand up and become the leader of the group. Yes, it will require more time, patience, communication and preparation on your part, but it will be worth it for this class and others to come.