It seems to me that if you are using CI to address status problems, then you need to ruthlessly root out any unconscious status implications from the language you use for roles and norms. In both the short term and in the longer term, these can severely undermine the effectiveness of any status treatments you may try to implement.
The most self-sabotaging label in my experience is that of “Team Captain.” Two things bother me about this label. The first is that the word “Captain” implies a social hierarchy within the group that is antithetical to the goal of developing shared responsibility and accountability. The other is that, when used in conjunction with the word “Team,” the word “Captain” cannot help but imply competition within the classroom rather than collaboration. For these reasons, I have banished these words from my vocabulary for roles.
Having managed many, many groups and projects in the corporate world, I have always been concerned that the language of Complex Instruction roles is so imprecise. In my experience, imprecise language about roles leads to a lack of clarity in response to expectations. It also leads to charter conflict and “turf wars.”
Here’s how I have tweaked the language of group roles for my classroom this year to make them more precise and more equitable.
NAVIGATOR — focus on GROUP INTENTION
Keep the group pointed in the direction of reaching a shared understanding:
- read instructions aloud
- enforce norms
- resolve conflicts, find compromises
- substitute for absent group members
- lead the process of filling out the group self-assessment questionnaire to turn in
FACILITATOR — focus on GROUP PROCESS
Keep the process of collaboration running smoothly:
- get the work off to a fast start
- watch progress & the time
- make sure everyone participates (turn-taking)
- assign sub-roles
- make sure the group meets its deadline
RESOURCE MANAGER — focus on GROUP RESOURCES
Get what your group needs:
- get & return all needed supplies
- organize the group to ask a group question (make sure that anyone in the group can state the shared question)
- call the teacher over for group questions
- organize clean-up
RECORDER/REPORTER — focus on GROUP RECORD
Manage group production of notes and deliverables:
- take notes for the group
- make sure everybody takes good personal notes
- organize production of high-quality group deliverables to turn in
As part of the infrastructure for group metacognition and self-monitoring, I am going to implement a group self-assessment questionnaire this year. Right from the start, I want to be deliberate in training students and groups to think reflectively about how they are participating individually and how their participation is being perceived by others as well. I also want them to actively perceive and reflect on what others have done that they could try themselves in the future.
I think of this as part of a larger process of assigning competence in the classroom community.
Here’s my draft of a Collaboration Self-Assessment questionnaire. We’ll test-drive this at the Group Work Working Group morning session at Twitter Math Camp 14.
Collaboration Self-Assessment Questionnaire