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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!)
When working with students who have different views on practices that we may see as common, it is important to embrace and empathize with the students. Having Aisha work in a group setting is something she will need to embrace and learn to do for the rest of her life, however, working in a predominately male group is certainly not the best way to approach the situation. I think the teacher should talk with Aisha about what it is about working with males that makes her either uncomfortable/goes against her religion. After talking with her, the teacher and Aisha can work together to create a plan. Are there any males in the classroom that she does feel comfortable with? Could she possibly work in an all female group for the first project and then work with just one male on the second project? It sounds like Aisha has been in the US for a few years since the teacher has known her for 2 years, so speaking with past educators would be a good idea too.

I don't know that putting Aisha in an all female group repetitively would be considered a disservice, but she does need to learn how to work with various types of people. By establishing a strong community within the classroom and learning Aisha's boundaries/limits is the main key in having a successful school year. No child wants to working in an uncomfortable or tense environment, so making a compromise and keeping Aisha's interest in learning is of the upmost importance. By having open communication and keeping her comforts in mind when creating groups, I think Aisha will notice the effort and this step will continue to foster the student/teacher relationship you already share.
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 like your suggestions to the situation. I think it's important for the teacher to compromise with Aisha and talk with her parents/family about the situation. Doing this will help ease the stress she is feeling and create a more meaningful learning experience for her!
Rated On: May 23, 2014 2:51 am
Rated By: Haley Moore