We just wrapped up the last week of classes at HGSE, and for me, the week included two group presentations. These were projects we have been working on for much (in one case all) of this semester. Group work has it challenges, but in the end it’s an incredibly valuable experience.
Group work is something you can expect at HGSE. Some people love it, some people hate it, but we all need to embrace it. As much as we would like to change the world, no one can change the world on their own. We need to know how to work well with others in order to create something better than what we could have created alone.
You won’t have to worry about people not pulling their weight here – everyone at HGSE is smart, driven and hard-working. The friction that occurs in groups is more likely to be caused by having so many people who are used to achieving success on their own try to tackle a complicated assignment together. We all care about quality work and efficiency, but we all have different styles. The beauty in group work is learning to be flexible. It’s about understanding where you have expertise, and where you should step back and learn from others. It’s about learning how to handle disagreements with respect, and working with each other instead of against each other. In the end, it’s also about having fun and getting to know more of your amazing classmates.
In case you’re wondering what kinds of group projects you can expect at HGSE, I’ll give you quick explanations of mine:
The first was a semester-long consulting project in my A125: State Education Policy class. My group was advising the Chair of the Massachusetts Legislature Joint Committee on Education about teacher induction and mentoring policies. It allowed us to work with people in the Massachusetts Legislature, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and leaders in individual school districts. It was fantastic practical experience.
The second was a project in A019: Education Sector Nonprofits class. It was a presentation and paper on (appropriately for this blog post) how leaders of nonprofits can balance the expectations for their individual organization’s performance with the expectations for their organization’s contribution to collective impact initiatives.
So if you already love group work and collaborating with others, HGSE is the place to hone those skills. If you don’t love group work, HGSE is the place to learn how to navigate collective efforts. Either way, HGSE will help prepare you to work effectively with others to solve education’s most complex problems.
Sara DeWolf is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Education Policy and Management program. She has experience as both a civil litigation attorney and a public school teacher. When she’s not at HGSE, you can find her playing with her daughters and exploring Boston.