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Lessons to Live By: Partners in (T)ime

Spring fever

Hello and thanks for stopping by! I’m so excited that it’s finally spring. I love seeing all the flowers bloom and getting to spend more time outside. Recently, my spring “fever” got me into a little bit of trouble, though.

I was supposed to work on a school project with a classmate named D. But I wasn’t all that excited when D was assigned to be my partner. While D seemed nice, we weren’t such great friends. I would’ve much rather worked with someone that I knew. Because I was a little out of my comfort zone, I maybe…kind of…sort of…avoided working with D. As you can imagine, this caused a whole mess of problems!

But I learned an important lesson from this experience: when you have a job to do, and you have to partner with someone else, communication is key. Even if it’s not your favorite way to work.

Here’s the story of what I did (and what I won’t do again!)…  


Our science and technology group project was to program a robot. Each person was assigned a partner. The teams each had three weeks to complete the work. (I’ll spare you the details of what needed to get done. Trust me, there was plenty to do.)

I was assigned to work with D, a girl that isn’t exactly my friend. I don’t dislike D, but she’s kind of quiet. Plus, she and I have different interests. I wish I had been assigned to work with one of my friends. A bunch of my recess pals got to work with each other, so I was kind of bummed that I got paired with a “non-friend.”

Here’s a not-so-fun fact about me: when it comes to schoolwork, I kind of like to do my own thing. It’s hard for me to rely on others. I guess you could say I have a partnering glitch.

So, instead of working with D as soon as we got the robot project, I did all the work I could possibly do on my own.

I also kind of ignored the fact that D and I would have to work together for the last part of the project. So, while I usually try not to procrastinate, this time, I did. That meant we had a lot of “partner work” to do before we could complete the project.

Having a ball

A couple weeks went by since we got the assignment. Neither D nor I talked about the robot project. I didn’t want D to think that I was bossy, so I waited for her to take the lead. But she didn’t. I suppose we both had our own partnering glitches.

Before I knew it, there were only three days to go before the assignment was due that Friday.

Finally, I decided that I’d just have to take the first step. I found D at lunch. She had been so focused on her dance recital that she had completely forgotten about our project. Good thing I got over my partner glitch! We agreed that I would call D at 5 pm on Wednesday.

I could’ve sworn that I’d made a note in my calendar to call D. I was also pretty certain I’d told my mom about the call (though perhaps I shared the information in the form of a complaint).

On Wednesday afternoon, it was the first nice day after several rainy days. I really wanted to go outside after school. I decided I’d meet my friends in the park. But only for a little while. Unfortunately, I lost track of time. Before I knew it, it was time for dinner.

The blame game

In the rush to finish my homework, practice piano, and eat dinner, I totally forgot to call D. I didn’t realize that I’d forgotten to call her until it was bedtime.

“Mom, I need to call D about our robot project,” I said in a panic. “I was supposed to call her earlier, but you didn’t remind me.” I didn’t tell my mom that the delay was partly—ok, mostly—due to a partnering glitch. I also didn’t share that I’d avoided this part of the group project for several weeks.

“Excuse me? I didn’t remind you?” my mother said, looking up from the papers she was grading. She didn’t appear happy.

“Well, I told you about our project. I just assumed you’d remind me. Like you do for other stuff,” I said, trying not to look my mom in the eye. I didn’t want to admit that I was the one who had made the mistake. It was much easier to just blame my mom!

“This project isn’t my responsibility. It’s yours,” my mom said, her irritation clearly growing. “Besides, why didn’t you make a note in your calendar to call?”

“Umm, maybe I did. But I was hoping you’d be my backup,” I said. For a split second, I wished that I could just pin this problem on my mom. Or someone else. “It’s not entirely my fault, though. D could’ve called me when I didn’t call her. So, she messed up, too.”

Maybe I could get away with the mistake by deflecting the blame for my partnering glitch…at least partially?

What I didn’t mention was that I’d also forgotten to check if D might have called me.

“I don’t know who did what,” my mother finally said. “But you need to figure out how to fix things. And do it soon. You need to get to bed.” Even though I was annoyed with my mom’s answer, I knew she was right.

System malfunction

I screwed up. And now D and I were on track for a solid “incomplete.” Maybe if D and I were better friends, we wouldn’t have waited so long to get started. Or at least felt comfortable that we were both we were procrastinating together. Either way, our project wasn’t going to get done that night.

I decided to write D an email apologizing for not calling her. Then, I suggested that we talk about the project for a few minutes at lunch or recess the next day. Because I messed up in not calling D, I volunteered to do all the annoying parts of the assignment. I even offered to give D the fun parts.

I was secretly hoping D might prefer the annoying stuff and I’d get to do the fun stuff, but fair is fair. Most of all, I hoped D wasn’t upset with me for not wanting to work with a partner. (She didn’t need to know that I had a partnering glitch. Even if it turned out she had one, too.)

The next morning, I saw D. Turns out, she had totally forgotten about our call! D told me that she really appreciated my thoughtful note and wasn’t mad. (Did I mention that I’m a really good letter writer?) Then, D apologized to me for not calling either!

Less me, more we

D and I met at recess to plan out the work we needed to complete. We split up the annoying and fun stuff evenly. So much for my having a partnering glitch! We both got to work right after school. Better late than never!

Although it was a little bit of a rush for us to get everything done, we finished the assignment. Though it was just barely on time. (Thank goodness my mom let me stay up a little later that night—even though she was annoyed I didn’t plan ahead.)

It turns out that D was a great partner. She had a bunch of good ideas and was easy to work with. Maybe my partnering glitch was solved. At least for this partner project it was.

After we finished the assignment, D and I got to talking. I learned that D likes watching sports on TV (close enough!). And hearing about her dancing sounded cool. Hopefully, we can hang out someday soon. Although not when we are working on a deadline!

All in all, I learned a tough lesson not only about planning ahead and keeping your commitments…but also about powering through an uncomfortable situation. (For me, that was overcoming my partnering glitch.)

I certainly learned a whole lot more than I bargained for on this robot project.

But the best part? I just might have gained a new friend.

What has your experience been working on group projects? What’s are the plusses and minuses about teaming up with others? Please share your story with me in the comments section!

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