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  Case: Cannot Cooperate
Aisha is known as a responsible and smart student. I have known her for the last two years, but this year is the first time she is taking one of my classes. She is in my 10th grade US History class. Recently, I started using small group projects in my class. I simply want my students to learn to cooperate, exchange ideas, and produce the project together. Although Aisha is willing to take part in these small group projects, she does not want to be in groups with male students because of her religious beliefs. When she told me about this, I told her that she was in the United States and that she had to work with whoever she is in a group with. In the first group project, Aisha was in a group with three males and one female students. She simply did not participate in any of the group activities. I wonder if should reconsider my original position on this issue and accommodate Aisha by having her work only with girls. Would I be doing her a disservice? What should I do?
Solution: (Rates are posted for this solution!)
This is a tricky situation. I would want her to learn crucial social skills, but I would not want to disrespect her religious views. I would discuss this more sensitively with her, and I would not tell her she just had to participate. I would use this opportunity to learn more about her religious beliefs. Is she forgoing male interaction in general, or just ones her family doesn't know? I would contact her parents to discuss this more. I believe it's important to create a classroom environment that is respectful and safe that would make Aisha feel comfortable. Next I would create differentiated activities that would allow her to work independently while allowing the opportunity to work with others of her choosing. A learning menu would work for this. Also, I would use this opportunity to teach the class about cultural diversity. Perhaps finding an appropriate time when Aisha could share about her religion and culture. I would have to make sure this activity wouldn't single her out negatively. Creating culturally aware and unbiased lessons would benefit Aisha and the other students as well.
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: You stated that well and I should work out wonderful when the teacher contacts the parents to discuss this. Aisha would need to be flexible at some point and understand that it goes both ways and not just her way...Religious beliefs or not.
Rated On: May 23, 2013 11:59 pm
Rated By: Love Joy
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: Good thinking! Sometimes we have to look at an issue from more than one angle. The idea that the young lady may have been only avoiding males she didn't know gave me pause because it simply didn't originally occur to me.
Rated On: July 1, 2013 12:47 am
Rated By: PyruNe
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: Great response and solution! I would most certainly try understanding her religious beliefs and how they are causing her issues before I would ever attempt to try and find a solution. Additionally, forcing her to participate is just bad teaching.
Rated On: February 25, 2015 9:31 pm
Rated By: aSaByN
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: Great suggestions.
Rated On: February 28, 2015 3:04 am
Rated By: LeqeHe
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: This was thoughtful and made me think about my solution.
Rated On: May 20, 2015 12:52 am
Rated By: vabehe
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) No
The suggested solution is relevant to the case No
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement No
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue No
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: I disagree with the intrusiveness of this intervention. Why would calling the parent and going overboard help anyone besides yourself? The girl has a cultural issue, doesn't want to be in a group with boys. I'm pretty sure she is already uncomfortable. Making a phone call to her parents, forcing your understanding is intrusive and unnecessary. You could ask her what particular belief is preventing her from working with boys, and then do your own research and then revisit the problem, but signaling her out is not the way I would go.
Rated On: May 24, 2015 1:04 pm
Rated By: Farhat Ahmad
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: I think it is great that you mentioned talking to Aisha's parents. I think that is crucial. I didn't consider that when I wrote my response, but that is a great way to go about things.
Rated On: May 25, 2015 3:23 pm
Rated By: TyhyMa
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: I really appreciate the idea of a learning menu. Appealing to everyone in general learns in different ways and this also allows for further learning. I think you bring up a good point of respectful and safe environments in the classroom. We don't know enough about this girls background. Maybe a male did something to her and now she has difficulties around males. She could be using the religious beliefs as a cover. Or it could be that in her culture she is not allowed to work with males outside of her family. There are so many possibilities and we need more information.
Rated On: August 30, 2015 3:06 pm
Rated By: Tetygy
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: This is a very sensitive issue. What you have said makes sense about talking with her about the issue and it is definitely a great idea not to tell her that she had to participate anyways. This tests teachers about their sensitivity to all their students and shows that they do care about others religious beliefs other than their own.
Rated On: September 1, 2015 3:04 am
Rated By: Jasmine Bringuel
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: That is very informative!
Rated On: October 13, 2015 1:28 am
Rated By: yHaReH
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: It is very important for students to learn social skills, especially in a classroom setting with people that they are going to be interacting with throughout the entire year. However, due to the sensitive religious subject, this can be hard to maneuver. I think that it is important to learn about what Aisha's beliefs and values are and figure out a way to implement a safe and fair strategy in the classroom that allows her to interact with others while respecting her religion.
Rated On: October 17, 2015 4:46 pm
Rated By: Hedese
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) No
The suggested solution is relevant to the case No
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement No
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue No
The suggested solution is original No
Comments: I do not like this idea
Rated On: October 18, 2015 11:42 pm
Rated By: Jessica Sorensen
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: excellent idea!
Rated On: October 23, 2015 4:09 pm
Rated By: baQumy
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: I agree with your solution. Asking to further discuss the situation with Aisha and her parents outside of class is probably the best solution. This way you can learn about her religious beliefs and how they may impact her learning. Communication in this situation is critical and the way it was initially handled closed the window for communication abruptly and disrespectfully. I like that your solution includes teacher self-reflection so that Aisha can be accommodated. I would definitely use your approach in my classroom.
Rated On: February 29, 2016 5:38 pm
Rated By: Melissa Dison
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: I agree
Rated On: October 16, 2017 1:59 am
Rated By: PeMuQa