Katrina Kocialkowska

The importance of a successful group work?

In Uncategorized on May 10, 2012 at 2:34 pm

This week I have been busy working on my group project.  We have been filming, recording sounds and making models…

This activities got me into reflecting upon the importance of a successful group work… What does it mean to work in a group? Can we learn anything from this experience?  And maybe even more importantly how can we improve on our skills for the future? When discussing the group project with my colleagues I couldn’t help noticing the grimace on everyones face followed by: ” You know group project is always hard…”

I started wondering: “Why are we so negative about this experience?”, “Shouldn’t we be more exited about if?”

What is the purpose of a group work?

  1. To elaborate on the ideas of others.
  2. People can find motivation, empowerment and liberation through group work.
  3. Reassuring power of being in the same situation.
  4. Reflective practice.
  5. Easy way of problem solving through group brainstorming.
  6. Group work is a form of cooperative learning. It aims to cater for individual differences, develop students’ knowledge, generic skills (e.g. communication skillscollaborative skills, critical thinking skills) and attitudes.

“Students who posses well developed group skills and understand their behaviour are motivated in their work and perform with healthy and optimistic approach.  By developing good group skills they find themselves in an excellent position as valuable future co-workers, leaders and human beings.”

Can we be taught how to behave and work in a group?  Are there any rules that we should follow?

What makes an effective team?

▪    It has a range of individuals who contribute in different ways and complement each other.

▪    Clear goals are agreed that everyone understands and is committed to.

▪    It has a coordinator who may adopt a leadership style. Different people may assume the role of leader for different tasks.

▪    There is a balance between the task (what do we need to do?) and the process(how do we achieve this?)

▪    There is a supportive, informal atmosphere where members feel able to take risks and say what they think.

▪    The group is comfortable with disagreement and can successfully overcome differences in opinion.

▪    There is a lot of discussion in which everyone participates. Group members listen to each other and everyone’s ideas are heard.

▪    Members feel free to criticize and say what they think but this is done in a positive, constructive manner.

The group learns from experience: reviewing and improving performance in the light of both successes and failures.

And what makes an ineffective team?

  • People talk more than they listen and only a few people may contribute.
  • Some members are silent and don’t contribute. They may be indifferent, bored or afraid to contribute.
  • Members ideas are dismissed or even ridiculed and their views are ignored.
  • There are arguments between members of the group (as opposed to constructive differences of opinion).
  • One or two members dominate the others and make the decisions.
  • Disagreements are put to the vote without being discussed.
  • Some members are unhappy with decisions and grumble privately afterwards.
  • Little effort is made to keep to the point or to work to deadlines.
  • There is a lack of clarity regarding goals and specific tasks are not agreed.
  • Roles are not delegated to particular team members.
  • There is a lack of trust and helpfulness.
  • Members don’t talk about how the group is working or the problems it faces.

To get to the root of the problem I started with doing a little research on the subject of working in a group and individual’s behaviour within a group:

An individual’s performance and his or our consciousness of it, and what are not present are the sources of unhealthy behaviour within a group.  Given that many are not wholly aware of their behaviour patterns and how they affect others, that equally many will not have thought about the matter at all or even want to, then the approach that reveals to them how their behaviour appears to others, followed by offering of information and guidance, may well give them for the first time some ability consciously to control aspects of their behaviour.

It boils down to the fact that whether the behaviour in question is one of a great lack of SOCIAL COMPETENCE through lack of opportunity to learn or behaviour which is asocial, unless the individual becomes aware of it and then decides to do something about it, very little change will actually occur, or if it does occur, it will not endure.

In simple terms, the only lasting changes which can be made in HUMAN BEHAVIOUR have to come from the individuals who are targets of the change.  This is usually summed up either in terms of public conformity for change, which is brought about by the application of outside pressure, or private acceptance for the change which is brought about by an individual’s desire to change.

As an (quite extreme) example of tension in a group I watched a film ” One Flew over Cuckoo’s Nest” based on a novel under the same title written by Ken Kesey. It is set in an Oregon asylum, and serves as a study of the institutional process and the human mind.

“Try not to become a man of success but rather a man of value” (Albert Einstein)

In my personal view a proper understanding and knowledge of WORKING ETHICS is a huge factor in the process of self development and THEN building a successful working relationships as a next step.


  1. Respect the rights and differences of others.
  2. Ensure that your behaviour/actions does not harm other people.
  3. Challenge constructively bad behaviour and discrimination.
  4. Think critically about your role and affect in a group.
  5. Work in a transparent and responsible way.
  6. Strive to establish and maintain the trust and confidence of other members of the group.
  7. Protect the rights and interests of other group members.
  8. Respect other ideas and views, even if you don’t agree.
  9. Be honest and clear.

Reaching an understanding is based on analysis and reflection of the ideas and beliefs.  Therefore it is important that students acquire and apply the habits of critical reflection, self-evaluation, consultation and more appropriate research in the evaluation.

To conclude.  What have I learned from working within a group?

Most notably I understood the importance of constant communication in the process of achieving good results within a group.  I have also become aware that a lot more emphasis and support should be put towards the acquisition of adaptable people skills that will help to build better future relations.

I hope that you have found my article interesting.  Please leave comments or your share your own experience within this topic.




“Basic Group Work” by Tom Douglas


Design Your Educational Philosophy.

In Learning and Teaching, Reflective Writing on May 9, 2012 at 11:30 pm
While studying to be teachers, we are often asked to write out our personal educational philosophies. This is not just an empty exercise, a paper only meant to be filed in the back of a drawer.To the contrary, your educational philosophy statement should be a document that serves to guide and inspire you throughout your teaching career. It captures the positive aspirations of your career and should act as a centerpiece around which all of your decisions rotate.

When writing your educational philosophy statement, consider the following:

  • What do you see is the grander purpose of education in a society and community?
  • What, specifically, is the role of the teacher in the classroom?
  • How do you believe students learn best?
  • In general, what are you goals for your students?
  • What qualities do you believe an effective teacher should have?
  • Do you believe that all students can learn?
  • What do teachers owe their students?

Your educational philosophy can guide your discussions in job interviews, be placed in a teaching portfolio, and even be communicated to students and their parents.Here is a sample educational philosophy statement:

I believe that a teacher is morally obligated to enter the classroom with only the highest of expectations for each and every one of her students. Thus, the teacher maximizes the positive benefits that naturally come along with any self-fulfilling prophecy; with dedication, perseverance, and hard work, her students will rise to the occasion.

I aim to bring an open mind, a positive attitude, and high expectations to the classroom each day. I believe that I owe it to my students, as well as the community, to bring consistency, diligence, and warmth to my job in the hope that I can ultimately inspire and encourage such traits in the children as well.

Original source: http://k6educators.about.com/od/helpfornewteachers/qt/edphil.htm

What Does a Great Lesson Look Like on the Outside? Here’s What Your Students and Evaluators Should See in Your Classroom

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2012 at 12:51 am

In my classroom, I am constantly amazed by how a thoroughly planned lesson can often fall flat, while sometimes when I’m “flying by the seat of my pants,” I can stumble upon magical teaching moments that really speak to and excite my students.

But, what exactly do the best lesson plans look like? What do they feel like to the students and to us? More concisely, what characteristics must a lesson plan contain in order to reach maximum effectiveness?

The following ingredients are essential to delivering effective lessons. You can even use this as a checklist when you plan your days. This basic formula makes sense whether you are teaching kindergarten, middle school, or even junior college.

State the Lesson Objective – Make sure that you know exactly why you are teaching this lesson. Does it correspond to a state or district academic standard? What do you need the students to know after the lesson is completed? After you’re perfectly clear on the goal of the lesson, explain it in “kid-friendly” terms so that the kids will know where they’re headed as well.

Teach and Model Behavior Expectations – Set out on a successful path by explaining and modeling how the students should behave as they participate in the lesson. For example, if the kids are using materials for the lesson, show the kids how to use them properly and tell them the consequences for misuse of the materials. Don’t forget to follow through!

Use Active Student Engagement Strategies – Don’t let the students sit there bored while you “do” your lesson. As I recently heard at a conference, the person who does the work, does the learning. Get your students engaged with hands-on activities that enhance your lesson’s objective. Use whiteboards, small group discussion, or call randomly on students by pulling cards or sticks. Keep the students on their toes with their minds moving and you’ll be many steps closer to meeting and exceeding your lesson’s goal.

Scan Peripheral Students and Move Around the Room – While the students apply their new skills, don’t just sit back and take it easy. Now’s the time to scan the room, move around, and make sure everyone’s doing what their supposed to be doing. You’ll may be able to limit your special attention to “those” kids who always need to be reminded to stay on task. You know who I’m talking about! Answer questions, give gentle reminders, and make sure the lesson’s going how you envisioned it would.

Give Specific Compliments for Positive Behavior – Be obvious and specific in your compliments when you see a student following directions or going the extra mile. Make sure the other students understand why you are pleased and they will increase http://k6educators.about.com/cs/lessonplanskin/a/idagreatlesson.htm efforts to meet your expectations.

Question Students to Develop Critical Thinking Skills – Ask Why, How, If, and What Else questions to strengthen student comprehension of the issues or skills at hand. Use Bloom’s Taxonomy as a basis for your questioning and watch your students meet the objectives you set out at the beginning of the lesson.

Use the preceding points as a checklist to make sure you are planning your lessons in the most effective way possible. After the lesson, take a few minutes to consider what worked and what didn’t. This type of reflection is invaluable in helping you develop as an educator. So many teachers forget to do this. But, if you make it a habit as much as possible, you’ll avoid making the same mistakes next time and you’ll know what you can do better in the future!

This information is based on the work of several experienced teachers who know what it takes to help students learn to their fullest potentials. Special thanks to Mary Ann Harper for allowing me to adapt this piece and offer it to my audience here at About.

Original Source:  idagreatlesson.htm