There is an age-old trick that educators have often used from time to time - group work. What is it exactly? Well, it’s the process of allowing several pupils to work side by side to manage a workload and complete a project. Sadly, there are those who shy away from setting their students such tasks because the outcome can sometimes descend into chaos if pupils don’t take it seriously. This doesn’t mean that group work should be shunned though. Instead, there are many benefits that you can take advantage of if you are currently teaching in the UK. Here are just eight for you to consider.
It builds teamwork
As a teacher, your job is to nurture your pupils as they grow and develop new skills. Nine times out of 10, you can do this when they are working independently. However, you also need to heighten their ability to work alongside other people in a team. The best way to do this is by setting group work. If you watch on from the sidelines you should find that your students learn how to listen to each other, bring original ideas to the table and compromise as they work towards one common goal.
It builds relationships
In an ideal world everyone would just get along. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world – and there are sure to be conflicts between pupils throughout the school year. While you can’t force two pupils to be friends, putting them in a group together should help them to build bridges and find a mutual respect for each other. This means that after the group work is complete the classroom will be a more harmonious environment. The best way to ensure this happens is by being strategic when choosing which pupils go into a group together.
It mixes things up
The school day can be terribly rigid – for teachers as much as students. This is why it’s important to seize the opportunity to mix things up whenever possible. If you’re sick of the same old routine, set group work every once in a while. This technique can help prevent the school day from becoming monotonous because it introduces a new way for students to learn. Obviously there should always be a focus on your students working independently, but if group work proves to be successful there’s nothing wrong with relying on it more often throughout the year.
It’s a change of pace
Similarly to how group work mixes things up, it can also be a change of pace. This is especially true if you set short-term group work and long-term group work throughout the year. Meanwhile, you’ll find that your students are always forced to adjust if you change the groups each time you set such projects.
It’s a way to assess students
You may think you already have a good idea of what your pupils are good at. However, group work can open up a whole new set of skills for you to assess. In fact, there’s a lot to be learned just from watching over a group. You may find that someone – perhaps unexpectedly – is a natural leader. Meanwhile, you may find that another pupil is happy to take a backseat when they know that someone else is carrying the workload for them. This information is all very valuable and can be used at a later date when holding one-to-ones or during parent's evening.
It’s more like real life
Always remember, school is predominantly about arming the young generation with skills to succeed in later life. And what’s more applicable to adult life than working as a team? If you step into any office environment around the country you’ll find that there’s a huge emphasis on teamwork. In fact, it’s what makes most companies so successful.
It develops confidence
It takes more than just intelligence to secure good grades – it also takes confidence. Therefore, you should be looking to develop confidence in your pupils at every opportunity. Group work is an amazing way to do this because it can help students relax alongside their peers as they learn the value of their own opinion. In the long run, this new self-belief can help pupils improve upon their grades and enjoy school.
It’s useful for YOU
Yes, you as a teacher can also benefit from setting group work. You should find that the method frees up your time because you don’t need to speak to each and every individual in the room separately. The technique can then leave you with more time to complete tasks such as admin or marking homework. Overall, you should be a lot less pressed for time.
Group work awaits
Every teacher can reap the rewards of setting group work. Just remember, if you use it wisely you should find that there are many benefits for both you and your students to enjoy.