Between winter break and Chinese New Year holiday, the whole 9th grade students had a project called “Interdisciplinary Unit (IDU) Project” learning about ‘inclusivity’ and ways to promote it in our ISB community. During this project, our team (my teammates were May and Ronan) faced many moments where we had to test our abilities on responsibility, collaboration, and communication.
I assessed myself as satisfactory close to exemplary on the collaboration strand in students as a learner rubric. During the project, I tried really hard to include every voice in my team in every choice we made. Before making a decision such as deciding the target audience, I always asked everyone’s opinions and their participation to make final decision. When a teammate was playing with another 9th grader during community time or team time, I tried my best to remind the teammates about one of our norms, “actively participate in group discussions”. I collaborated with my teammates to equally distribute work among us, but it didn’t always turn out well and I had to be patient to remind the member about our norms. I think waiting patiently and guiding my members is one of my strengths that I have figured through this project. When a teammate was confused about our PowerPoint, I explained more than 3 times for the member to fully examine what he or she had to write for his or her script which took me about 40 minutes. I could have given up in explaining the assignment, but I felt like if I give up and do their work, they would just repeat their irresponsibility and rely on other members. I also found out that I am able to bring out topics and start discussions for my team to stay on topic. For example, when my teammates are hesitating to start the conversation, I am able to start the conversation to break the silence and let the members relax a bit. However, I think I should still work on my communication skills. When my members are sending reminders or are asking questions about their tasks on Wechat, I was not replying back because my phone was muted, and I didn’t check my phone often enough.
When I began this project, it was very refreshing how we made our own team agreement/norm. The rank of my team’s norms/agreements based on their importance are:
- Work should be equally distributed.
- Know your responsibilities (complete work with high quality by due date).
- When conflict arises between team members, we initially will negotiate to make a deal and if further help is required, we will consult a teacher/mentor.
- Actively participate in group discussions.
- Communicate with maturity/respect others through the WeChat group.
- If one team member is absent on any given day, he/she may attempt work from home, and when the above option isn’t available the other members may split the extra workload.
Personally, I think the norm ‘work should be equally distributed’ in group projects is the most important because inequality in the distribution of work happens almost in every group project where teammates would leave the work on one or few other teammates. The least important norms that we had was number 6, ‘If one team member is absent… extra workload’ because all of my teammates didn’t have any school-related activities happening during the project meetings except myself who was absent two school days due to sicknesses. Although these two norms mentioned before were ranked by their importance, I also think these norms follow the rank based on their difficulties. The norm ‘work should be equally distributed’ was the most difficult norm to follow in our group. One teammate was procrastinating its own work until the last night before the presentation and I had to finish the ppt and tell the person what to write for the script. Furthermore, I had to work on extra slides and its script since some of my teammates gave me their work. The easiest norm that our team was able to follow was the same as my least important norm which is ‘If one team member is absent… extra workload’. As I explained before, it was the easiest because we didn’t have any other absence than my 2 school days’ absence so there weren’t any conflicts that we had to cope with.
During and after the project, as I reflected on my group work, I realized that collaboration is very important in group projects. The collaboration was really valuable when we had to brainstorm about our solution because we needed many ideas as possible from all of our brains. Also, when we were separately working on the ppt and the script, collaboration was required to organize our thoughts and prevent any confusion during the process because we were working at different stages. However, there were also challenges that occurred during the project. First, there were conflicts occurring in a teammate’s responsibility in collaboration. One of my group mates didn’t do their work in time until the last night, which left extra work for another member and I. Since we didn’t realize the problem until the last day, our group had to call in WeChat for 5 hours until 12 o’clock in the morning of presentation day. Honestly, I can’t say how we reacted to the problem was right and more could have been done to prevent the issue. To check each member’s responsibility, we could have discussed each person’s progress during team time or community time. However, even in team time and community time, one member kept went away from our group and went to play with its friends in class and just asked us to do the work. To manage this challenge, I think my other teammate and I should have strongly responded to its irresponsibility and ask the friends to stop disturbing our teammate. We could also have asked for the teacher’s help. Lastly, there were some problems making consensus in group discussions. Since we had different ideas it was hard to choose only one idea among others, but it was easier to overcome compared to other problems that arose because it was easily controllable by negotiating through respect and patience.
Through the IDU project, I learned many lessons not only about inclusion in communities but also about collaboration. Personally, learning how to Microsoft Excel was interesting to me because it is a life skill that will still be used after I graduate. I believe that the IDU project has left me valuable memories and lessons in a short period. Next time if I have a chance, I hope I can find out better ways to improve inclusivity in ISB.