Cooperation in Class: Part I
Measuring cooperation is obvious and accurate with the EnTeam process. When playing EnTeam’s Talking Dominoes with a class of high school seniors, a lack of cooperation was witnessed by all students. In one group of four students, two were the “socially alpha” students, and two were the targets of bullying. Now you should know, generally, scores improve as you play an EnTeam game multiple rounds in a row. As participants experience the game, they develop strategies and find more efficient ways to work together based on each other’s strengths. That’s exactly how this game unfolded…at first.
In the first round, this team of four earned a score of 30. They were leading the class. This score set the standard to improve upon during the following rounds. For high school seniors, 30 points on the first round is an average, respectable level. Next, in order to “win” they had to improve the group’s score to demonstrate an improved ability to cooperate. In the second round, the students switched partners, shared strategies, and witnessed a huge improvement to 48–more than a 50% improvement in output–that is impressive by anyone’s standards. In the third round, just like before, we switched partners. This time each of the more forceful students was paired with a shy student. This pairing was coincidental, not intentional. It’s just how the rotation ended up. Once again, we shared strategies as a class, but the distrust and history of poor communication was palpable in the game. In round three the score dropped to 8 points. That was an unprecedented 83% drop in output from round two, but a great opportunity to look at the underlying issue in the class: a lack of harmony. Before class, the teacher shared with me that several of her students had been uncooperative and rude to her since the beginning of the semester. This was an opportunity to deal with a lack of cooperation.
After we played the concept game to establish the particular cooperative thinking strategy, we played a gamified version of the curricular content. The students had paid attention in class, and there was improvement. In the academic arena the students demonstrated steady progress in working together to solve curricular problems. Then we debriefed the workshop. The three questions in EnTeam’s debriefing exercise are “what happened?” “so what?” and “now what?” The students opened up. There was a discussion about the need to cooperate and the awkward feeling customers can sense when there are poor working relationships between coworkers. None of them wanted to work in a place someday with hostility between co-workers so they were ready to talk about intentional cooperation in class right now. The students agreed that reaching a state of “genuinely caring” about their peers and their teacher would create a better learning environment. I was grateful to hear the social maturity from these students and their willingness to engage in a difficult conversation. I look forward to the next workshop with these seniors and to improved relationships–we will be measuring them!
Cooperation in Class: Part II
Two weeks have passed and we held a second class with EnTeam activities. I am happy to report that the EnTeam workshop was successful! This time the students immediately jumped into the mindset of cooperative scoring and wanted to help each other succeed. I intentionally grouped the same four students: the two “socially alpha” students and the two shy students
who were the targets of bullying. When they worked with their friends they scored 178 points in EnTeam’s House of Cards. Cooperation was evident in the first round, could they keep it up?
After switching partners, they were paired with the student whom they did not consider to be a friend–each of the pairs was made up of an “alpha” and a target of bullying. The odd pairs thought about the dismal failure that took place the last time they were paired this way and what they might do to increase their cooperative performance. House of cards requires a great deal of dialogue and concentration, so their need to collaborate effectively was obvious. They strategized, set their differences aside, and improved their scores to 228. Hooray! Our debriefing of the concept game was thorough. Each of the students shared sincere insights.
The curricular content game EnTeam created with the teacher presented the students, who were following a particular career path, with industry examples of challenges at work. One of the questions involved dealing with rude clients in a professional manner. Another involved picking up slack for a co-worker when under pressure and what kind of conversation to have with them later when clients and co-workers were out of earshot. Each student was engaged and gave heartfelt, compassionate answers as to how they would handle the uncomfortable work-related situations their teacher and I threw at them. Afterwards, the conversation looked inward–they shared application ideas for working more effectively together in the classroom.
We ended on a high note on the last day before the Thanksgiving break. I, for one, am grateful to have witnessed progress in the cooperative discussions taking place.