I am always experimenting with classroom management techniques in my attempt to become a better educator. One item that I find very challenging, especially working in a group environment, is how do you choose the groups? Should not adult learners be engaged enough to try the best regardless whom they are with? Or is it best to pair students that already have a comfort and familiarity with each other?
Diversity in the classroom represents many challenges for the instructor, wouldn’t it be easy if all learners had the same knowledge base and skill set? This rarely is the reality. My default is to let the learners choose their partners, as I do not want to create more anxiety or barriers to learning. Sometimes this is effective and the teamwork is fantastic, or other times you end up with the most challenging students all in the same group. If you have no previous knowledge of your learners, that how can you make an informed decision on the groups? I have found once I have had a class with the students, then I can make a more effective decision.
Brookfield makes a case for both of these scenarios in Chapter 8, I often find reading about education helps validate some of the beliefs or discoveries I have made on my teaching journey, sometimes I wish I had read a bit more before I started this career!