Tips for Creating Work Groups in the Classroom

by Alesha Wilson
(Wilmington, NC)

Group work is always important in any classroom, and you, the teacher, should be able to intuitively create functional groups among your students by considering some factors. The group as well as the work the group must perform should contribute in a significant way to the development of each child.

Make the groups as diverse as possible. Knowing the strengths and limitations of each student in your class is part of your responsibility. And, the more you know about these, the easier it is to select members of each group.

Split-up the members of a clique.

Students tend to get comfortable inside their cliques. They hang out in the corridors in school, and often meet up outside school to pursue common interests. While this kind of friendship is commendable, it is better that these students spend time with other classmates in working groups so that they can make new friends, and they’re exposed to varying opinions. After all, when they join the workforce, they will not always be able to choose who they work with.

How to recognize cliques? Oftentimes, students with the same family background feel more comfortable being around each other, whether inside the school or outside. Their common background makes deeper friendship possible. There’s no awkwardness around each other, and they can talk about anything. For instance, kids raised in an well-to-do home, with moderately strict parents, are often seen talking animatedly while planning off-school activities. It’s difficult for another student without the same background to be accepted inside this clique, not with the defining elements already present in the other members, e.g. the way of speaking, the financial capacity to go where lower middle status students can’t, the gadgets they own, etc.

Some students are natural loners, not because they’re unlikable, but because they often choose to work alone. These students tend to bond because they feel safe with others that wouldn’t pressure them into doing things that they don’t feel inclined to do, like hang out and be unproductive. These students often told to go home straight from school, to study harder to get better grades and to avoid hanging out with other kids as much as possible often find solace among peers under similar restrictions.

Have at least one achiever in every group.

Whether it’s a leadership trait that you see in one student, or a potential for academic excellence, that student should be separated from other achievers so that every group has one representative that will perform well. While every kid has a potential to become an achiever, you will soon notice that there are students that show this potential earlier than others. Distribute these students evenly among the groups, so that they can help motivate their peers into doing a great job. You’ll be surprised at the roles that these achievers take in the group work. While some gravitate towards the leadership position, others would be content to be the adviser of the group and let another take the stage as the leader.

Alesha Wilson is a staff writer at

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