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Working With a Slacker

On a Team Project


If it hasn't happened to you yet, you're one of the lucky ones. At some point in your academic career you'll be teamed up with a slacker.

Teachers love to put students into groups or teams. Inevitably one or more members will try to coast by and do nothing. Why? Because they know that the responsible team members will come through for a good grade.

If you are teamed up with a student who is notorious for slacking off, the worst thing you can do is let it get you down. Instead, take some steps to encourage your partner to work. It's only fair, and it might create a positive change in your partner!

You should also realize that your teacher probably knows which students are slackers. It's a good idea to try to take care of the slacker on your own by working with him or her. If things get really hard for you--then it may be time to ask your teacher for help.

Try these tips for working with a slacker:

  • Be excited and provide a good example. Your slacker may a good person who has developed bad work habits. You may be able to teach your partner some valuable skills for a successful future.

  • Think rewards! Come up with a fun place to meet or a great reward for meeting some goal. For instance, you could promise to make cupcakes for the next work meeting and encourage your partner to bring a good snack.

  • If you realize early on that your partner is probably going to be a slacker, make some time to sit with your partner and establish a set of work rules and deadlines. Don't be confrontational, though. Make it clear that you would like to establish rules to keep you both on track.

  • Start out by giving your partner a clear task with a deadline. Begin with something simple that can be finished in a day. This will accomplish one of two things:

    1) It will either instill a sense of accomplishment in your partner and encourage him/her to follow through with the next task, or:

    2) It will make it very clear (if your partner fails) that her or she has no intention of working with you.

Keep a record of your rules, your initial meetings, and your work. When it becomes obvious in the records that you're doing all the work, confront the slacker. Show him/her the evidence and suggest the he or she pick up the pace.

If that doesn't do any good, then it's time to talk to your teacher. Inform the teacher about your tasks and your deadlines. Show your teacher the records of your rules, your work, and your partner's lack of work.

If Your Teacher Doesn't Respond

Life isn't fair, and neither is high school. Your teacher might respond well to your complaint, but there is a possibility that your teacher will tell you to work through it yourself.

If this happens, you must stay positive. Don't let the resentment eat at you. Think about the future and the fact that you are going to be rewarded for being responsible. Your experience and hard work will pay off when it comes to getting into college. Slackers will be too lazy to complete a great application package.

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