Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The IB Learner Profile – Communicator

When I was a class teacher I used to make sure that every student in the class worked with every other student at least once during the year. Sometimes I gave the students a choice, but they had to pick someone they hadn’t worked with before. Sometimes I managed the groupings to put together students who would not naturally have chosen to work together. The IB Learner Profile defines communicators as:

They work effectively and willingly in collaboration with others.
Of course sometimes the students grumbled about these groups, but I had a clear expectation that they would have to make a success of working with everyone. I told them that in life we don’t often get to choose our colleagues or our neighbours therefore it was an important life skill to be able to get on with people – they didn’t have to like the person they were working with but they did have to respect them and make an effort to work productively. I promised all of them that if they didn’t make a success of the grouping this time round, I would be sure to give them another opportunity later in the year to work with that person again and do a better job of it. Most times I didn’t have to do this more than once. What often amazed me was that at the end of the activity I would often ask the students how they had got along in their group. Many of the students said things like: “Well, I wouldn’t have chosen to work with him, but we did a good job together.” Others actually said “I work better when I don’t work with my friends – I just get on and do what we have to do and don’t mess around or chat.”

Eventually the students came to accept all the groups they were put into. They learned how to work with all the other students in the class in a respectful and positive way in order to get the job done, and they were also able to articulate what they had done in their groups, what had been successful and what still needed to be improved upon. I think as a result of these group activities all the students became better communicators.

Photo Credit:  Team Work by yckhong

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