You can learn a lot just by watching. In the chemistry lab classes I am teaching this fall I have had that opportunity. I learn by watching that some of my students never read the lab before getting to class and ignore most (or all) of my introduction. I’ve also learned that sometimes things just won’t work – even when the directions are followed (at least, that’s what the students claim…), and I’ve recently learned a little about teamwork.
In many of the experiments, students are allowed to work with a partner. By observing my groups, I’ve seen that partnership is not necessarily the same thing as teamwork. Partnership requires people to come together and work for a common goal (in my case, finishing the experiment). But teamwork is more than working with someone to reach a common goal – it’s working with someone to reach that goal together. I have been surprised by the number of partners who will race to finish the experiment at the end and leave their partner to finish alone… and confused.
Watching these students has made me think about the partnerships I am part of – mainly my marriage. Hans and I are more than just partners – we are teammates on a journey. Sometimes I want to go off by myself and leave him behind me – like some of my students have left their partners as soon as they could – but it’s better when we work together. I am so happy that we have been able to start our marriage as teammates, and I’m looking forward to working together in the future!