Derek commenced the task by numbering each table from 1-5 and giving each group an envelope. Each group were allocated the same task and were requested to produce an item which could assist a new student in their first week at university using only the resources contained within the envelope.
My group was at table one and our envelope contained a significant number of resources such as coloured paper, coloured pens/pencils, envelopes, rulers etc. The envelope contained enough materials that each member of our table was able to create a different item to go in to the pack. The table created a campus map, a blank time table, useful tips on cards, a kitchen manual and from the remaining items managed to also produce a make-shift pencil case made out of an envelope filled with most of the resources which had not been used.
Throughout the process, Derek continually provided us with praise, commenting on how well we were working together as a team and telling us how productive we were all being. This boosted team morale and the whole team brimmed with confidence and constantly kept turning to each other and saying “we are really good at this aren’t we” with big smiles on our faces. The offering of a biscuit from Derek during the work also supported this view more and relaxed the team and made us so comfortable that we were unaware of what was really happening around us.
Each of the groups then took turn to present their final product. Our group were unaware at this stage as to what had happened and within our group we were still praising ourselves and commenting on how well we had done compared to the other groups.
Derek started off by appearing extremely interested by our presentation but as each group presented he demonstrated less and less interest in what was being shown. By the time the last group were presenting he appeared to be more distracted by his phone than what the final group had to say. Our group again remained oblivious to the connection being made.
Following the presentation by the final group, Derek asked everyone in the room “So, who noticed what was really happening there?”. The majority of those present noted they had identified the trick being played out and made the connection with his actions and reactions, whilst those in group one remained confused and wondering what had just occurred and what everyone else had became aware of that we did not.
Derek then informed all that each group had been provided with different envelopes containing differing amounts of resources and were all being tasked independently to produce items depending on what resources we had available. Group one had no awareness of this and were shocked that this had taken place without any of our group realising until this point.
I feel this exercise has provided me with a significant lesson to ensure that I now give everything my full attention and has opened my eyes to see how easy it is to miss very important, yet very small, details in the classroom. The exercise demonstrated that there is no space for bias in schools and although every child will have a different background, each and every one has to be treated equally, fairly, and in a consistent and professional way.
In summary this also highlighted how providing praise and encouragement in a positive manner also promotes confidence and goes a long way, the more Derek complimented us the more confident we became and so in turn the more effort we became willing to put in. Again this demonstrates that the attention/praise/encouragement we can provide to pupils has positive outcomes and should also be given during group work to each pupil to promote team work.