The Fab Four’s final presentation did more than just help us learn about using the Skilled Facilitator ground rules in both written and verbal communications. It was proof that we have become an effective and cohesive team!
During the preparation for our first presentation, I was nervous. I didn’t know the other members of my team very well, and yet my grade would depend, in part, on their preparation and delivery. It was a pleasant surprise when our presentation went off as well as it did. I tried to keep that outcome in mind as we worked on our second presentation, but I was still a little nervous, especially since we added an element to our presentation at the last minute that I thought could make or break it. “Make it” it did! So by the time we got to working on this last presentation, my worries about the contributions of my teammates were gone, even though we picked a topic that turned out to be more complicated than we first thought. I knew what strengths my teammates would bring that night, and I was confident that we would play off each other fluidly so it would not come across as separate pieces but instead a comprehensive effort. Even the unknown variable of the class’s reaction and involvement didn’t worry me, because I knew that “group” better by now, too.
I have to admit, when Dr. Carter asked the first night of class where we would put ourselves on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of being comfortable about the team nature of this class, I was probably only a 3 or 4. Which I found odd, because I enjoy — and indeed thrive on — being in team environments at work. The project teams I have been on at work are typically cross-functional, so I know I need to depend on the other members of the team to provide their expertise in the areas of accounting or operations, for example. But learning felt more “personal” to me. Surely at this point in my life I had all the skills I needed in order to learn. What I wasn’t taking into account, however, was that when you learn as a team, you get more context and meaning behind the terms and ideas. You start to understand them from a number of perspectives, and that can increase the likelihood that you’ll retain that information and be able to apply it in more ways than just the situations you are familiar with yourself.
If Dr. Carter were to ask how comfortable I am with the team nature of learning now, my number would be much higher. I realize I am lucky that my team was comprised of great individuals, and I would be foolish not to recognize that may not always be the case. However, I would be equally foolish not to take advantage of the learning resources available to me not only through my fellow M.Ed. seekers but at work as well. I am surrounded by really smart people, and we all have our individual skills, knowledge, and experience to share. Thanks to the Fab Four, I no longer feel learning has to be an individual endeavor.