Friday, November 11, 2011

Arrgggggh! (revisited)

I've got multiple group projects going on at this point, and really, I have to say that the majority of them are going well. However we have one due on Monday. MONDAY! I have never worked with this girl, but you kind of figure at this point, everyone has learned how to work in a group. Lord knows we had plenty of projects to practice on.

We divvied up the work, and I got mine knocked out because that's how I roll. She was not so prompt, but she did seem to have a handle on things.

I have taken criticism from the instructors for not allowing the contributions of other team members. At the time, I felt it to be unfair. The instances they referenced were groups in which members were either not doing the work, or simply waiting until it was done, and then wanting to change everything at the last minute, because they were procrastinators. It was frustrating, but when I tried to defend myself specifically, I was interrupted. She didn't want to hear it. She told me that this was a complaint heard repeatedly from the rest of the class. Really kind of undermined how I felt about fitting in to the class.

I took those lessons. I've tried to apply them. I do not critique the work of my teammembers. We just pool our work. I don't add to theirs. They don't add to mine. I just keep quiet. I don't think its the best way to do a group project, but I can't figure another way to handle things without appearing to take charge of the group.

Now after a year, I have a pretty good idea of who is best to work with. Other students, the older ones, usually, are anxious to get things hammered out as quickly as possible. I look for people who have a lot on my plate, like myself. It's worked pretty well. Most of my group projects have been successful this year.

In the van coming home from Buffalo, my classmates were talking. I was daydreaming, looking out the window, wondering about the lives of the people who lived in the big houses in the gated communities we were passing, or the lives in the rundown trailer parks that we were passing. The lives of the people in the (mostly neat) tiny square homes that went on for miles and miles, divided up into a gridwork of homes that looked basically the same. I gazed out the window imagining stories to go with the homes that I was seeing.

I felt a nudge, and jumped a little. Andrew, sitting next to me said, "We know about that, don't we?" I said, "What? I guess I missed it." They were talking about groups. About difficult people in groups. The like.

I said, "Groups are hard for me. I got slammed for being controlling, but when you're working with people who don't do their share, it seems like someone has to take charge, and I simply do it. I'm not so good at groups." I sidestepped the complaints that were circulating about specific people saying only, "I hope that the teacher sees their shortcomings, and that their grades reflect this." I noted that I try not to talk about people, because I know that I have a reputation as well.

It was a gratifying moment. Other students looked at me and said, "The only people that complain about you are the same people who complain about EVERYONE, and they complain because they are slackers and want to blame everyone else." It's true. The names that they mentioned were people that everyone tries to avoid working with. Proscrastinators, inflexible people, or people who simply don't do their part of the assignment. It was just nice to hear that from my peers. I've been walking around feeling like I had a problem. A big one.

That night, I got home to an e-mail from my partner on a group project. She attached her portion of the project. To my horror, it was not done. Not even close. It's due Monday. It is so half assed that it doesn't even make sense in places. I noted my corrections politely. All sorts of grammar issues on top of gaping holes and undone portions. My comments were longer than her entire report. But I didn't rewrite it.

I noted that I was very afraid for this project.

I know that she expects me to rewrite it. I'm not going to. One portion of the report goes for one class, the other portion for the other. Her portion, as it stands now, will probably get me my first zero.

I took a deep breath, e-mailed the instructors. Let the chips fall where they may. I can rewrite part one, but it will not be done by Monday. I can rewrite it, but I will be submitting it in my name, not as a group project. If that solution is unacceptable to them, well, I've gotten a zero, and I do not know what this means for my overall grade.

I'm not sure what this says about me, whether this attitude is a good one or a bad one.


Kelly said...

It will be interesting to see how this all turns out. I can totally understand your reasoning.

PaintedPromise said...

oh wow Deb... how crappy is that? i am so sorry... for that very reason i have NEVER liked group projects, and neither did my kids... seems like there is always someone who doesn't pull their weight...