Faced with complex challenges, the ability to work in teams emerges as a fundamental skill. How does one learn to work in teams? Initially, few teachers were trained in this kind of facilitation because teacher education is just beginning to appreciate the strategic pedagogical importance of teamwork; so most teachers learned to integrate team activities very gradually by developing their methods themselves.
Who hasn't experienced those horrible "team" assignments decreed without any student preparation by a teacher with little encouragement to review his or her role. Yet teamwork can be conducted with great profit and surprising achievements can result, far beyond what an isolated individual can achieve. We see early on the principles and skills of "project management" taking shape in students.
In teaching, coordinating multiple members of a team is primarily about allowing each to contribute to the activity to the best of the individuals' abilities and goals. Organizing teamwork with students with special needs poses a major integration challenge and calls for original solutions, most often unique to each situation.
It is not just pedagogy; techniques and tools are developing as well: software, models, theories; specific scopes of application are found for each type of project. An IT project is not managed in the same way as a show or a commercial production project, but some general principles emerge nonetheless.
One of the problems often encountered in teamwork is that the most competent people end up in the best roles and the less competent ones condemned to insignificant roles. Perhaps this is one of the lessons of learning: everyone has an interest in developing their skills because the more we do, the more we become capable of doing and the more our value in the team increases and balances. In fact, one of the most common pedagogical approaches suggests role rotation; everyone has to assume different positions during the project.
As long as the group is functioning and having fun, we know that the pedagogical return is high because the final product sought is not so much the objective outcome of the project, it may even be a failure, as what was learned and developed as skills.
Denys Lamontagne - [email protected]
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