I'm currently in the middle of another group project. We were told at the beginning of it that we could work alone, if we wished, and after the traumatic last group experience, I'd made up my mind to do just that. However, there was another girl, a shy girl, very awkward, sits at the back of the class. She didn't have a partner. The teachers asked if she were working alone, and she looked at them, awkwardly. "I don't know," she said. "I guess. I don't have a partner." I really respect this girl because she is a very nervous person, and you can tell that speaking up is hard for her. However, because class participation is a big deal, she forces herself to speak, and I always feel a little proud of her. I mean, she's overcoming a big obstacle and I remember when I used to be ashamed to speak, so I respect her struggle to overcome this. On the spur of the moment, I spoke up and said, "We can work together, if you like." She agreed readily, and our teachers marked us as a team.
We did our facility visit, and we watched OT in action. Next was to write our report, to talk about the therapies we'd seen, the frames of reference, the domains of concern. We also had to sit down and come up with a research question, and then research it, and address it in our report, citing references (at least three). We had a question. We did our research. I began working on our report. R. expressed some reservations about our question. She wanted to change it. "That's fine," I said, because really, her point was valid. "How about this? I'll finish up this report, and you go to the library and pull together some research on the new question, then I'll come over and meet you, and we'll cover the question, I'll take that stuff home and finish up the report. "Great," she agreed happily, and off she went.
I was a bit relieved at her willingness to take responsibility, because she'd scared me just a little. She selected our site. I'd let her because she's nervous, and I wanted her to be comfortable. It was in her hometown, a 45 minute drive from my house and the college, but I felt that it was important for her to be comfortable. I thought her familiarity with the place would make her less nervous. After choosing the facility, she said, "I'll call and set it up tonight." But she didn't. Not for several days, and I had to keep nudging her to do that, even volunteering to do it myself "No, no, I'll do it tonight when I get home," she said. And finally, she did. We made the visit, and I'd begun to assemble the report, and still, there was no imput from her. I was doing the work, and she was not contributing, and I began to be nervous again. But she'd gone off to the library, and so I did the report, everything but the research question, her portion, and when I was done, I took a copy of it to the library. She was sitting with another student, and they were working on homework for another class, but I gave her the report. We agreed that we would meet Wednesday, and finish it. I said, "You'll have the research for the question then, right?" "Oh, yes," she said. "I'll have the research, and we'll talk about it, and get the report finished." "Great!" I said, and I left for my next class. I was tired and weary, but felt good about our progress. We have five projects due on the same day, and I'm feeling pretty stressed.
Long story short. Yesterday, she said, "We're meeting tomorrow, right?" and I said, "Yes. We'll discuss that research question, and we'll get the report finished." And she said, "What you've got done so far is awesome," and she left.
I studied for my test. I got up early and went to school early to study some more. I took the test, and then went down to the library to meet my partner to finish up that report. And she was waiting for me. "You've done a great job so far," she said, and she was enthusiastic about how the project was going. I said, "Thanks. Let's discuss the research question, and how we're putting that in." And she said, "Well, I was going to work on it, but I decided, no, that's not fair. Debby needs to be able to be involved." She gave me a generous smile.
Inside, I died a little. Very carefully I said, "We had agreed that you'd finish the question and pull the research together. We were going to write it today." She looked at me and said nothing. I said, "Okay. Let's get going on the research question," and she handed me the paper. I took a deep breath, and I headed for a computer. I was trying to tell myself that initially, I'd decided to work on the project alone anyway so I shouldn't be upset to be doing just that. But I found it hard not to be irked, especially since she kept looking at me angrily. I finally said, "Listen, I'll do the research question and the research. Let me go home where I have a copier." And she said, disgustedly, "No, just give it to me, and I will do it." "No," I said. "I'll do it. Don't worry about it," and she leapt to her feet grabbing her things snapping, "You're making me feel like crap!" I couldn't believe this was happening again. Group projects SUCK! I explained to her that I'd worked hard on my portion of the report. I pointed out that she'd willingly taken on a portion of the report, which only seemed fair, anyway. I reminded her that she'd made a commitment that she hadn't kept. She snapped, "I'm under a lot of stress." I looked at her. "So am I." She headed for the door. I gathered my things and headed to the other exit. I just wanted to cry.
As I stepped outside, I heard her calling me.
I turned around, and said "You know, I tried so hard not to be angry with you. We talked about this, right from the beginning, that we both needed to hold up our end of the bargain. You told me Thursday that you were going to the library to do the research question while I wrote the report. I worked hard on that report, and when I came over to give you the preliminary copy of it, you were visiting with another student and working another homework assignment. We talked about it then. You would do it, you said. We talked about it Tuesday. You were doing it. You promised, and you didn't, and then you blow up at me because I'm unhappy that you didn't do as you said. That's not fair." We stood there in the rain staring at each other.
"You're right," she finally said. "It's not fair."
"I'm under stress too. I've got a lot going on," I said. "Now I'm doing your part of it in addition to my own."
"I know," she said, but I also noted that she did not offer to do the work.
What else was there to say? I'd verbalized my concerns, for all the good that it did me. I was proud of my own conduct. I did not get emotional. I stated my case. I can't make her do it. Nothing to do but drive home and do some research.
Yep. My conduct was professional and clear with her. Let me be unprofessional and clear with you fine folks. I'm really pissed right now.