May 16, 2019


Dear Nikki,

you have GOT to help me! My English teacher has assigned an end-of-the-year project that makes up a HUGE part of our final grade. The problem is, it’s a GROUP project!!! WHYYYYYY?!?!?! I hate group projects so much!!! I end up doing all the work! I know you’re going to tell me I shouldn’t, but if I don’t, it doesn’t get done! Or it gets done really badly! And I care about the grade we get, even if no one else does!!! Why do teachers do this to me?!?!? HELP!!!!

Group Projects Are A Pain!

Dear Group Projects Are A Pain,

UGGGHHHH! Group projects are THE WORST!! Teachers say they’re all about learning how to communicate and work with other people. But, some teachers forget what it’s like for you to rely on other people for your own grade!!!

I share your dislike of group projects, but I HAVE found a few techniques that help me survive them.

  1. Be open-minded. If you think a group member is slacking off, you’ll probably get mad at her, and it’ll make her slack off even more. The same thing is true for when you think someone is bossy and does everything. She’ll just keep being bossy. So, try to be open-minded and listen to everyone’s ideas. Someone might surprise you!
  2. Use everyone’s strengths. That kid who never does his homework and is constantly drawing dragons during class? He has art skills! Figure out how to use them in your presentation! Or that class clown who always wants everyone’s attention? Get him focused and he’ll probably be the perfect person to deliver an entertaining presentation.
  3. Be organized. Keep clear records of what each person is supposed to do for the project. When the project is finally done (YES, it WILL NOT last forever!!), most teachers will ask how things went. The records you keep will help, if there’s a disagreement about who did what.
  4. Communicate. Communication is very important to the teachers who assign group projects. So, figure out the best way to communicate as a group. I recommend Google Docs. But first, find out if everyone has Internet access at home. You might think someone is slacking off because they don’t contribute to the online conversation, but it could be because they don’t have Internet! In that case, be sure to plan extra out-of-class time to meet.
  5. If someone is slacking off, talk to them. I know it’s awkward, but you should talk to the person before you talk to the teacher. Make sure they know what their job is, and that the teacher will see records of who did what. Find out if they need help figuring out how to do something. Don’t be judgmental—genuinely check in to see if you can help. In fact, it might be a good idea to have regular check-in times when everyone reports on where they’re at with their job. That way no one feels singled out, but everyone gets reminders to step up.
  6. Talk to your teacher. If someone really doesn’t contribute, or worst case, if you end up doing pretty much EVERYTHING yourself, it’s okay to tell your teacher. NOT in a tattling way, and not without talking to the slacker and other group members first like I suggest above. But when that project gets turned in, if people didn’t pull their weight, it’s fair to give your teacher an idea how things went down.
Do you like group projects? What are your best tips for surviving a group project? Tell us in the comments!